You’ve probably heard all about the benefits of solar panels, but do you know how they work? Taking some time to understand how solar panels work will ensure you can make a fully educated and informed decision about whether or not this energy-saving solution s right for your family or business.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at everything from the history of solar panels and why solar energy works, to what solar panels are made out of and how a solar panel system works. Let’s get started!
What is Solar Energy?
Solar power is energy generated by the sun that is then converted into thermal or electrical energy. Modern technology has developed ways to harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity to provide light and heat water.
Unlike other energy sources like coal and oil that are limited resources, converting the sun into energy does not deplete the amount of sunlight that reaches the earth. This makes solar energy the cleanest and most renewable energy source that we know of today.
A Brief History of Solar Energy
You may be surprised to learn that solar power technology is not a recent development. In fact, the first solar energy plants were developed in the mid 1800s during the industrial revolution.
In 1839, a man named Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered that electricity can be generated from sunlight. Becquerel claimed that “shining light on an electrode submerged in a conductive solution would create an electric current.”
Although there was much research into this discovery of photovoltaic power, it took over 100 years before the transistor as well as solar cells were invented. Since then, solar cells have developed into a key element of the solar power industry and have been implemented in a variety of places– from solar powered cars and aircraft to, of course, homes.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
The most common type of solar energy for homes is called Photovoltaic or PV solar, and solar panels are the most important part of this PV system.
Solar panels come in various sizes and can be installed on the ground or, more commonly, on the roof of your home. These panels absorb the sun’s rays, convert the sunlight into energy, and generate a direct electrical current.
What are Solar Panels Made Of?
Solar panels are made up of a series of interconnected silicon, phosphorus, and boron cells. These cells join together to create a circuit. The greater number of cells, the greater amount of power a panel is able to produce.
How Do Solar Panels Convert Sunlight to Energy?
Let’s take a closer look at the process solar panel systems take when converting sunlight into power.
- As sun shines down, your solar panels absorb the photons and initiate an electric current.
- This current knocks electrons out of their atomic orbits into the electrical field and into a directional current. This is called the Photovoltaic (PV) Effect.
- The PV Effect creates direct current (DC) electricity.
- The DC power then flows down to an inverter where it converts this electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity.
- The panel sends electricity to whatever it is you’re powering or heating.
How Are Solar Panels Installed?
It’s highly important that you install your solar panel system correctly. Not only does this process involve creating a solar engineering and site design plan, it also includes getting proper permitting and ensuring compliance with local fire safety requirements.
Here’s an outline of the typical process for correctly installing solar panels at your home or business:
- Home or site evaluation. Involves reviewing your electrical system and determining the best location to mount solar panel system hardware
- Solar engineering and site design plan. Includes details on the number of panels, where they’ll be placed, system wiring plans, and local permits and compliance paperwork.
- Solar installation. The solar panel installation team will safely and correctly install and mount all equipment
- Inspection and connection. A city and/or county inspector will review the installation. Once approved, your installer will officially turn on your system.
Where Can I Buy Solar Panels?
Here in Southern California, installing solar panels at your home or business simply makes sense. Thanks to our warm and sunny environment, solar panels are an excellent way to help you control utility bill costs and increase the value of your home or commercial property.
If you’re interested in installing solar panels, give us a call at (661) 245-3224. We offer a low price guarantee and have 20+ years of experience installing solar panel systems in Southern California.