How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels work by producing energy from the cheapest and most abundant energy source available to our planet – the sun.

Modern solar technology can convert sunlight into electricity so efficiently that new solar panels system usually cost much less than traditional energy sources.

What is solar energy?

Sunlight (or Solar Radiation) is a type of electromagnetic radiation that is constantly emitted from the sun. Solar panels can turn this solar radiation into electricity using a technology called Photovoltaics, sometimes referred to as PV in solar technology terms.

When sunlight hits the solar PV cells on a solar panel (or solar module), the energy from the solar radiation is absorbed and converted into electricity. That electricity is then converted into the same current your home employs, making it ready to use immediately.

How does a solar panel works?

Solar panels for homes are made of smaller solar cells, also called PV cells. The cells are “strung” together to make the solar panel, and panels are connected to each other to make up the solar energy system. Typical solar energy systems for home use will have 20-30 panels.

Each cell is made with a crystalline silicon material that acts as a semiconductor. When the semiconductor in a solar cell is exposed to sunlight, it transfers the energy from the light into electrons. These electrons flow through the cell as an electrical current, traveling along with metal contacts while gathered and converted.

A solar inverter is a device that converts direct current (DC) electricity from solar cells into alternating current (AC) electricity. Once that conversion happens, the AC electricity can be used to power your home or business.

Solar Diagram how do solar panels work

Read More:

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Does weather affect solar panels?

Solar panel ratings are based on perfect operating conditions. Solar cells work most effectively on clear, cool days with low atmospheric pressure. In an ideal situation, if there are very few clouds, bright sunlight, and a temperature around 60° F – your solar panels are at peak performance.

However, solar panels need sunlight to generate electricity. They don’t generate energy at night, but you can still use the power they generate at night with Net Energy Metering.

Clouds can also affect how well your panels are working. If there are only a few small clouds in the sky, they usually won’t affect the solar panels' efficiency and may even boost their efficiency by diffusing the sunlight. Your solar panels will only produce 10 – 25% of their expected output on dark, heavy overcast days. 

Temperature can also affect the performance of your solar power system. Solar PV system typically works better in cooler weather conditions – as long as the sky is clear. Winter months usually produce less solar power generation because of shorter daylight hours.

Summer months can be more tricky. While solar panels are made of durable materials meant to withstand harsh environments, they will slightly drop in solar energy production the hotter they get. 

Solar energy produces less during hotter weather conditions because of the “Temperature Coefficient.”

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Solar Energy?

Pros Of Solar Energy

  • Increases the value of your home
  • Cheaper than paying electric bills
  • Clean & renewable energy
  • Low maintenance cost
  • Reduce reliance on the grid system

Cons Of Solar Energy

  • Buying solar panels can be expensive
  • Some people don’t like how solar panels look on their home
  • Solar energy storage is expensive
  • Finding a reliable solar installation company can be challenging.

The hardest part of going solar is finding a reputable solar company that can walk you through the details of solar energy systems and how solar will benefit your situation.

Let Option One Solar be your expert guide to explore how solar power can change your life.

Have questions? Give us a call and speak with one of our solar experts.

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