Of all the green energy technology, solar panels are at the top of the list as one of the most popular ways to produce energy. It’s so popular that an expected half of all new energy production in 2022 is expected to be solar.
That’s why it’s no surprise that you’re asking yourself, “How do solar panels work?” You may want to learn more about up-and-coming technology, or you may wish to purchase a solar installation yourself.
Do you want to learn more about how solar panels work in practice? Keep reading to learn what solar energy is and how panels turn energy from the sun into power for your home.
What Is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the power that comes from the sun. The light you see from the sun isn’t only light. It contains photons that contain energy from the nuclear reactions that happen in the sun.
Those packages of energy arrive at the earth every 8.5 minutes. This is due to the speed of light and how fast that light can travel from the sun to the earth.
The power that sunlight contains is called photovoltaic power. To convert that power into energy usable on earth, you need to convert that power into current and send it to the power grid.
How Do Solar Panels Convert Solar Energy Into Power?
If you want to convert power from the sun into energy, the first step is to find a material that allows you to absorb the sun’s energy. From there, you’ll need to convert that energy into a form your home can use and build a way to store that energy.
Let’s look at how that happens.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
Most solar panels today use silicon to operate. Silicon is used by 95% of solar technology today, no matter what solar energy uses you’re considering.
The first main variation of silicon solar technology is photovoltaic cells. These cells are made up of two layers of silicon. One is positively charged with electrons, while the other is charged with a negative charge.
Those layers create an electric field that solar panels use to produce electricity.
Whenever solar energy hits these cells, it travels between these two layers of silicon. An electrical current is generated when this happens. You then move that current to the next circuit as output and move to the next step of the process.
There are a few other forms of photovoltaic cells. Some don’t take the layering approach and have a unique way of doing things. Each of them has different solar absorption levels and efficiency.
However, most people find the value for the money the best right now with the traditional method for collecting solar. But in time, the other techniques may come down in cost and be a better option.
How Do You Make Use of Solar Energy?
Unfortunately, you can’t just use the power you generate from solar panels. That power is in the wrong form. You need to perform a conversion to a form that people use every day.
The energy you get from solar panels is DC energy. You’ll need to convert that energy into an AC current if you want to use it in your home.
You can do this with an inverter.
Central inverters have been used throughout most of history. You send all the power generated by solar panels to that inverter and have it handle a single conversion before sending it to your home.
This is a great way to ensure you have fewer moving parts, but it also has one big issue. If one of your solar panels isn’t working right, it can bring your whole system down.
Today, you can also use mini-inverters on your solar panels. That means that even if one solar panel goes down, you can still generate energy from your other panels instead of shutting everything down.
What Do You Do With Excess Energy?
One big problem solar panels have is generating too much energy at peak times during the day. That means you have more power than necessary at specific parts of the day. For the other parts of the day, you won’t have enough.
One solution people figured out was tying a battery system to a solar installation. Doing this means you can store your excess energy instead of wasting it. It helps solar-powered homes stay powered during the night instead of drawing from a grid.
That adds more benefits to solar energy if you want to reduce your environmental impact as much as possible.
However, you may still have too much extra production or may not be able to afford batteries. In this case, you can tie in with the grid and sell to your power company.
You’ll get an energy credit in many locations when you do this. You can use this credit to pay for grid energy without extra cost.
This is also useful if you live in a solar powered community. Many communities are moving towards green energy and creating individual solar systems for multiple households. You can provide value to these communities if you have a large solar installation.
How Do Solar Panels Work? Now You Know
Solar panels seem like magic to many people. You take the power of the sun, convert it into energy, and power everything you can think of. It’s no wonder that you’re interested in how everything works.
Now that you can answer the question “How do solar panels work?”, you should have what you need to understand solar. Now it’s time to explore more of the benefits of solar panels and find the best solar panels to help power your home.
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