Solar Panel Basics

Understanding how a solar panel works can place you more at ease with the idea of owning solar panels for your home. The basics of solar panels all start with the sun and a solar panel will take in sunlight and then eventually use it to power the items in your home. Understanding the steps in between can make sure that you are more familiar with the system so that you can feel confident as it operates. The basics of operation with a solar panel system is that the panels will use photons to separate electrons from atoms. Photons are absorbed into the solar panel as light particles and the process for separating media electrons from the atoms is done with the materials that can be found inside the panels. Here are some of the main solar panel basics to help you wrap your head around solar energy!

Solar Panels First Capture Sunlight

Each solar panel contains a photovoltaic or PV cell. PV cells will take in light or photons and convert them into solar energy. When sunlight hits the solar panel the PV cell will produce energy in the form of direct current. DC electricity is not compatible with many of the devices in your home and this is where the equipment from your solar panel will work to improve your power generation. 

The Inverter Process

In order for a solar panel to make use of the energy that it receives, it needs to properly convert it into usable electricity. Many solar panel configurations have a single inverter for the entire system but there’s also micro-inverters that can be connected to every panel. Inverters are responsible for converting the DC electricity that’s absorbed into the solar panels and turning it into AC electricity which can be used to power your home. 

The Electricity is Transferred to The Meter

After the power is transferred into the inverter from your solar panel, the electricity will run through your net meter which can power your appliances and let you know how much power your solar cells have generated. Your solar panels will likely be able to cover enough to manage all of your electricity needs, the meter will remain connected to your utility company through the grid. This means that you’ll get access to uninterrupted power from the grid but also credits if you are able to produce more power than you are using. 

Sending Leftover Solar Energy to The Grid

Rather than all of the energy that your solar panels are generating going right into your home, most of the energy is going to be sent to the traditional power grid. It may seem like somewhat of a counter-intuitive process as you’ve just installed a system that generates power for your home, but having uninterrupted energy during the evenings and during stormy conditions can be important. Solar panels will generate electricity when the sun is up, but making sure that you can access electricity in the evening when you are not producing solar energy can be crucial. 

Your Energy Metering Agreement

The final stage of generating power with solar panels involves your net metering agreement. Your local utility company will agree to provide you with energy through net metering with your solar panels. They will also provide you with a credit for the surplus power that your system can produce and send back to the grid. Most of these energy credits will roll over so that you can continue to earn a credit with your utilities. It’s possible that they may even cut you a check if you are able to generate more power over the course of the year than you used. This is a great way that you can reduce your payback period for a solar system.

If you’d like to learn more about the process of installing solar panels or more information about the latest solar panel products, contact us today!


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