How Solar Works: Your Guide to Solar Energy Generation

solar energy generation

We all want to better the planet we’re on. And while major environmental change needs to come from higher up, there are little things each of us can do to make a difference.

Where we get our energy from is a big part of that. With costs dropping significantly over the past decade, more and more homeowners around the country are turning to solar power as a new energy resource. Solar is clean, renewable, and downright affordable. It’s no surprise it’s becoming a big hit.

But many going into the process don’t initially know how solar works. In fact, it’s often questions and skepticism about solar that keep people away from trying. Read on, and we’ll walk you through how solar works and why you might want to consider it for your home. 

What Is A Solar Panel Made From?

You’ve probably seen a solar panel somewhere before, whether in your neighborhood or on TV. But what are those panes of glass and what do they do?

Your standard solar panel only has a few key ingredients. There’s a metal frame, a glass casing, and a layer of silicon cells and wiring housed inside. That’s in an individual module, and a whole solar panel system is usually made up of a number of individual modules.

Silicon, if you’re not familiar, is one of the elements of the periodic table (#14, to be precise). It has conductive properties that make it the key element to a solar panel: it can absorb the energy of sunlight. These silicon cells are made with a positive and negative side, just like your standard battery.

Together, these two opposing sides create an electric field.

The glass casing is there to protect the cells. It also serves to create an ideal environment for energy to be created, protecting against humidity and the dissipation of heat from within the panel.

This is a good video which shows what these panels are made of.

How Does A Solar Panel Work?

When light hits a silicon cell, it activates electrons and pushes them into motion. This motion is what creates what we know as electricity, and this process is known as the photovoltaic effect.

Most solar panels get their technical name from this scientific process. Most solar panels you see are known as photovoltaic solar panels.

Once an electric current is created in the silicon cells, the wiring of the panel captures and transfers this energy into a form that can be used by the lights, appliances, and other systems in your home.

Raw power from a solar panel is known as DC power, but American homes and appliances use AC power. As such, a solar panel inverter needs to convert the DC power to AC before it can get used in your home.

Solar Energy As A Utility

It may be easy enough to understand how a panel itself works. But many homeowners are often unclear on how the resource gets measured and accounted for.

If you currently get electric power to your home, you are likely connected to something known as a utility counter. This counter allows your electric provider to monitor how much power is supplied to your home. When you bring solar panels to your home, they will be set up with this utility counter as well.

This is where big savings can come in as a solar panel owner.

On sunny days during warm and bright months, your solar panels probably produce an excess of energy. That means that they are producing more energy than your home really has a need for. In this kind of situation, a homeowner can actually send this excess energy back to the grid.

When you send this energy, you get points on your electric bill. If long cloudy days where you don’t have enough solar energy arise, you can rely on these points to call power back into your home. This process is called net metering, and it’s one of the reasons that solar is so economical.

Understanding Major Solar Savings

When it comes to saving money, having a proper understanding of how solar works can be a big help. No matter what, you’ll want to compare costs from various sellers, whether it be or somewhere else.
There are solar panel providers all over the country, but you need to ensure you’re working with a company that is keeping your best interests in mind. A solar panel is infinitely flexible and can be installed in a variety of shapes, sizes, and formats. Even if you feel like there isn’t a way for your home and apartment to be run off solar, there might be.

In Brooklyn, for example, there were concerns that solar panels wouldn’t work due to sun blockage from other, neighboring buildings. But today, panels in Brooklyn are simply elevated an extra few feet in the air to help ensure they get the sunlight they need.

The bottom line is this: understanding how solar works can help you find the best system and seller for your home. It’s important to go into the solar process with a solid understanding of how it works, so you aren’t surprised as you get going with this new form of energy.

How Solar Works For The Modern Homeowner

The popularity of solar has really exploded over the past few years. If you’re considering a move to this alternative energy source, it’s important that you know how solar works and how it can help you.

Want to learn more about expanding industries? Check out our tech page for more.



Ashley Macdonald
Ashley has recently joined the FeedsPortal content writing team and brings with her a wealth of journalistic experience, which we believe our readers will find extremely useful.

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