It’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about it: the fact that we’re able to harness energy from the sun and use it to generate electricity. Unlike many other energy sources, sunlight is free and plentiful. Plus, did you know that the amount of sunlight that hits the earth’s surface in just 90 minutes is enough to handle the global energy consumption for a full year? Although more and more property owners are choosing to invest in solar energy systems, most people don’t understand the remarkable technology that makes solar power possible. How do solar panels work?
How Do Solar Panels Work?
The light emitted by the sun is known as solar radiation or electromagnetic radiation. Solar technologies capture this radiation and transform it into a useful form of energy. Typically, people are most familiar with photovoltaics (PV), which is the solar energy technology utilized in solar panels.
Understanding Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels
Solar PV panels, which are made up of solar cells, absorb the sun’s energy throughout the day. Although all locations on Earth receive some sunlight, the amount varies from place to place, and this impacts how much solar radiation a solar panel will absorb. No matter where you live, however, solar energy can be an excellent investment that allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your electricity bill.
After solar panels absorb the sun’s energy, they convert the solar radiation into direct current (DC) electricity. Since most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, the DC electricity must flow through an inverter, which converts it into AC electricity. At this stage, you can either use the electricity or send it back to the electric grid.
Does Solar Energy Have to Be Used in Real Time?
You might be wondering about the practicalities of using an energy system based around sunlight. What if you work during most of the daylight hours, while your home’s solar panels are soaking up energy from the sun? What happens when you need electricity at night but your solar system isn’t currently generating power? Fortunately, solar energy doesn’t have to be used in real time due a system called “net metering.”
Through net metering, utilities credit solar system owners for the excess electricity produced by their solar panels. Basically, both residential and commercial owners of solar energy systems are able to sell the electricity they don’t use back to the grid. Depending on where you’re located, the size of your solar system, and how much electricity you require, you might produce a great amount of surplus solar energy or very little. But through net metering, you will only pay for the electricity that you use beyond what your solar panels can generate.
Since net metering policies differ from area to area, it’s important to explore how it works in your area before you commit to a solar energy system.
So how do solar panels work? They absorb energy from the sun, convert that energy into DC electricity, and then use an inverter to convert that into AC electricity that can be used to power your home or business.
If you’re wondering how solar panels could benefit your home, your business, your wallet, or the environment, contact ArrowPoint Solar today. Our expert engineers have helped more than 1,000 homeowners and businesses in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas save money and reduce their carbon footprints by switching to solar energy. We’re proud to be the leading experts in solar and LED energy in the Ozarks. To learn more about the value of solar energy and how it could benefit you, request a free solar consultation today.