How do Solar Panels Work?

March 4, 2016

The simple explanation is that solar panels absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity you can use.

You see solar panels on residential rooftops, commercial buildings and many other applications. This renewable alternative energy source brings many advantages for homeowners, but you may wonder how solar panels work.

Solar Panels Photovoltaic Cells

A solar panel is made up of photovoltaic cells, which are two slices of semi-conductive material sandwiched together. One sandwich slice is negatively charged, while the other is positively charged. These cells convert solar panel into electricity by using photons from the sun’s rays to force electrons in the slices through a conductive metal piece. The movement of these particles starts the electricity production process and produces direct current, or DC, electricity. DC electricity has a constant electrical flow in a single direction on the circuit.

Convert DC Electricity to AC Electricity

The electricity generated by the solar panel is DC, but your appliances and other household systems use alternating current, or AC, electricity, which flows in multiple directions on the circuit. Your system needs a way to convert DC into AC once the electricity moves through the circuit. The answer lies in the solar panel’s inverter. This system component takes the DC electricity and converts it into AC electricity so you can use it for your home’s electrical system.

Electrical Switchboard

The inverter connects to the electrical switchboard in your house and holds energy until needed. Your household circuits get the energy they need when they need it in order to power everything from your living room light to your microwave. The switchboard also controls importing and exporting energy from the grid.

During your peak usage times and at night, you may need more electricity to power your house. The electrical switchboard brings in energy from the grid to help with the power load during these time periods. During other times of the day, the switchboard exports your excess electricity to the grid, so you receive credits to your energy bill.

Need more information about how solar panels work? Explore more commonly asked questions about solar energy and its benefits for your home. If you’re ready to enjoy solar energy, contact us for a free Denver solar panel installation quote.


EcoMark First Time Solar Panel Buyer's Guide

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