How Do Solar Panels Work? A Guide for Homeowners

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Solar energy continues to pop up for homeowners as the go-to for sustainable power. With it, you can get electricity from a renewable energy source that also helps you save up on utility costs. It is also an environmental option that you can get behind.

Seeing the benefits that it brings can leave owners wondering. How do solar panels work? Today, we will look at how these devices tap into the sun’s power to bring you the electricity that your home needs.

Gathering Sunlight for Power

How does a solar panel work? Let us look at the process in steps.

In this case, the first step is for sunlight to gather in one area. This is where the solar panel comes in.

Most of these solar panels use silicon as their material base. This superconductor would cause its electrons to move upon contact with sunlight. This process comes to life through the photovoltaic effect.

You would see the photovoltaic effect in action with certain semiconductors. An example of this is silicon.

In this case, the semiconductor generates electricity due to their exposure to sunlight. This process then generates direct current electricity.

As it is, DC electricity would not work on its own. It would need another component to turn it into a usable form of energy.

Converting Sunlight into Usable Electricity (DC to AC)

What happens after the solar panel gathers and changes the light into electricity? DC electricity still needs the proper conversion for it to be useful.

This is where a solar inverter comes to play. This component receives the energy gathered through the solar panels. It then converts direct current into alternating current.

AC electricity is what most household appliances use to function as intended. Once converted, the AC electricity runs through the home. This now becomes the energy type that would make the facilities in your home come to life.

The electricity gathered from the sun should now power your home. It can now power your light fixtures and appliances without issue.

Directing Leftover Power to the Grid or Battery

You would have two likely directions for where the excess solar power goes. Of course, this depends on how your solar power configuration works.

One of these is towards the utility grid within your area. This works when you are still connected to the grid. This can do wonders with how power companies credit you for the extra electricity.

Those that use an off-the-grid setup would end up in a different situation. The excess solar energy would go to the battery and get charged up.

This ensures that you have a backup power source. It lends well to a situation where you don’t get enough sunlight due to the weather change.

Off-the-grid solar power configurations should be able to do these tasks two-fold. On one end, you have appliances powered through solar energy. On the other hand, you have the battery getting the needed charge up from the excess solar power.

Types of Solar Panels

Solar panels come in different types. They tend to vary in design and material used. From which, you have three major types to choose from.

Monocrystalline Solar Panel

This solar panel uses pure silicon crystal for its cells. This would explain the black color that it takes.

The silicon wafers fall into an arrangement of rows and columns to form a rectangle. It is then covered with a glass sheet and then framed together.

It stands out for its aesthetic and performance. Its efficiencies can rate as high as 20% and can come with more than 300-400 watts of power capacity. Despite this, it is an expensive option.

Polycrystalline Solar Panel

This solar panel uses silicon fragments melted together before cutting them into wafers. The cells follow the same arrangement and framing process as a monocrystalline solar panel. What makes this one different is in color, taking a blue hue instead.

Polycrystalline solar panels work well for their costs. It is a more affordable variant when compared to the monocrystalline solar panel. Its downside is that it might have a lower efficiency or performance.

For comparison, its efficiencies sit at 15-17%. As for its power capacity, it can hold about lower than 300 watts.

Thin-Film Solar Panel

This panel variant uses a myriad of materials for its creation. One of the most common types of thin-film solar panels is the ones made from cadmium telluride.

Other thin-film solar panels use amorphous silicon placed on top of glass. Some solar panels even use plastic or metal.

These variants tend to be slimmer and thinner than standard solar panels. While rating low in performance and efficiency, they are flexible and lightweight. The efficiency rate is at 11% at most, likely due to the mixture of materials used on the panels and how their sizes vary.

Getting Started with Solar Power for Your Home

Before venturing towards solar power, you need to check your home first if it would be a good candidate. For instance, check your utility bills and the size and state of your roof. Along with this, check if that section gets a lot of sunlight exposure.

This way, you can gauge if it would be a good chance to install solar panels in that area. For more information on solar power, you can read more here.

How Do Solar Panels Work? Now You Know

Now that you know how do solar panels work, you have the option to choose. There are plenty of solar panel options for your needs and home.

If you wish to transition into more sustainable living, consider installing solar panels today. It can shoulder your utility expenses and may even help you go off-the-grid for better savings.

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