How Do Solar Panels Work?

Sunlight Reflecting off Newly Installed Solar PanelsIt only takes about 8.5 minutes for the sun’s photons, particles that carry energy, to travel 93 million miles to Earth. When those photons hit solar panels, the energy is converted into usable electricity that powers more homes and businesses every year. Yet understanding how solar panels work isn’t as simple as it sounds. Before you contact Vision Solar to schedule installation, take a closer look at the science behind the solar panels that make green, renewable energy possible.

The Power of Photovoltaic Cells

Solar cells, or photovoltaic (PV) cells, are among the solar panel’s most important components. PV cells are made with several types of materials, such as monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and thin film, and are manufactured with a positive and negative layer to mimic the electric field of a battery. This allows PV cells to serve as semiconductors that capture the photons from sunlight and transform them into direct current (DC) electricity. In short, the more solar panels in a system, the more power it generates.

Innovative Inverter Technology

After the PV cells convert the sun’s photons into DC electricity, your solar panel system’s inverter steps in. It takes that DC electricity and converts it into alternating current (AC) electricity, the form of power that a majority of home appliances utilize. The inverter is also an integral piece of the solar panel system’s ability to monitor information such as energy production and voltage, as well as protect against ground faults. It all adds up to each of your solar panels performing to its highest capability.

Net Metering

Once the inverter has produced AC electricity and sends that usable power to the outlets in your home, there is almost always excess energy leftover. When this is the case, your solar panels stream that extra electricity to your electric grid, where it is stored for use elsewhere. Homeowners then receive a credit from their energy company for the excess electricity being stored in the grid. This process is called net metering, also known as net energy metering (NEM).

Net metering is the reason you can access solar power when the sun is out of view, such as during cloudy or rainy days and at night. As typical solar panel systems generate enough electricity to continuously send the excess to the grid, homeowners can utilize their credit to power their homes during the times when the sun’s photons are not hitting their PV cells.

Virtually Maintenance Free

Solar panels are manufactured with longevity in mind. With an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years, they are highly durable and typically require little to no maintenance. It is recommended, however, that homeowners wash their solar panels several times throughout the year. This can be done with a simple garden hose to remove dirt, dust, and other debris that may accumulate and prevent the sun’s photons from hitting the PV cells. This ensures your system operates as efficiently as possible.

Learn More Today

Solar panels use fascinating technology to generate usable electricity without harming the environment. They leave no trace of greenhouse gasses and do not contribute to water or air pollution, yet lower your electric bills and increase property values. If you’re ready to learn more, contact Vision Solar today. We’ll provide a free quote and schedule a comprehensive assessment to help begin the process, so you can take advantage of clean, green energy from the sun.