It’s pretty amazing how solar panels take sunlight and convert it into electricity to power your home or business. But just how do solar panels work? That can get a bit complex, but we’ll review the basics for you.
Step one: Sunlight absorbed through the panels
This will take a bit of a physics/chemistry lesson. Or a refresher, for those who may have taken these courses in high school!
The heat (or better known as, energy) from sunlight is made up of particles called photons. Photons from the sun carry electromagnetic energy into the solar cells. Solar cells (or photovoltaic cells) are the electrical devices in the panels that convert that electromagnetic energy from the sunlight into electricity. Semiconducting materials, such as silicon, sandwiches the solar cells. When the photons from the sunlight hit the solar cells, each layer of the panels becomes energized. The process is called the photovoltaic effect and it’s a physical and chemical phenomenon that generates voltage and electric current in a material when exposed to light. The electricity created is called a direct current.
Step two: Inverter inverts the current
Direct current (DC) is a unidirectional flow of electric charge that flows in a constant direction. However, alternating current (AC) — an electric current that reverses direction periodically — powers homes and businesses. AC moves like a wave, alternating back and forth, while DC moves in a constant, straight line. So how does DC become AC?
This is where the inverter comes in. The job of the inverter is to take the DC electricity generated from the panels and convert it into AC electrical power that all residences run on.
Step three: Let there be light!
The AC electricity freshly generated by your solar panels is then sent through the breaker box to power your home. If you’re hooked up to the grid, any electricity you don’t use is delivered to a utility grid, like power lines. And ta-da! There’s power.
And that’s how solar panels work! Cool, huh? If you’re ready to power your home or business with solar energy, contact Aurora Energy today!
Image credit: AGL Solar Energy [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]