Are you amazed by solar panels that are on roofs and wondered what they do and why? The high-tech expanses of glass that sparkle are only part of an intricate network that harnesses the sun’s renewable energy to provide power to homes within.
Let’s take an easy step-by-step look at the way solar power operates.
How Do Solar Panels Make Electricity?
STEP 1: SUNLIGHT ACTIVATES THE PANELS.
A rack-and-panel solar system
Each panel comprises a layer made of silicon, a metallic frame and a glass casing, all covered by a particular layer and wire. The meetings are placed together in “arrays” (an ordered series) and are positioned on rooftops or in large outdoor areas to get the most impact. These solar panels, sometimes referred to as photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight during the daytime hours.
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STEP 2: THE CELLS PRODUCE AN ELECTRICAL CURRENT.
A silicon ingot and a wafer
Inside each solar cell is a fragile semiconductor wafer constructed out of two silicon layers. A layer that is positively charged while the other is negatively charged, forming an electrical field. When sunlight’s energy hits a set photovoltaic solar cell, it causes the cell to be energized that causes electrons to “come out” of atoms in the wafer of the semiconductor. These loose electrons are brought into motion through the electrical field around the wafer. That motion generates an electric current.
STEP 3: THE ELECTRICAL ENERGY IS CONVERTED.
A solar inverter. Image supplied from SMA Solar Technology AG.
There are solar panels effectively converting sunlight into electricity. However, the electricity produced is known as direct current (or DC) electricity, which isn’t the power that powers most homes. It is AC (or AC) electricity. However, DC electricity can be easily converted into AC electricity with a device known as an inverter. In the modern solar system, inverters can be set up to work as a single unit inverter that covers the entire system or as individual microinverters tucked behind the panels.
STEP 4: THE CONVERTED ELECTRICITY POWERS YOUR HOME.
A solar microinverter
After the solar energy is transformed from DC into AC electric power, it flows across your panel and is distributed throughout your home to supply power to the appliances. It operates precisely like the electrical power produced by the grid of your electric utility, which is why no part of your home has to be altered. Because you are still connected to the traditional electricity provider, you can effortlessly draw additional power to compensate for solar-generated electricity shortages coming from the grid.
STEP 5: A NET METER MEASURES USAGE.
Smart electronic meters
On days with clouds and overnight, it is possible that your solar roofing or panels might not capture enough sunlight to generate energy. On the other hand, in the middle of the day, when no one is at home, they could be able to create excess energy, more than what you’ll need to operate your home. The reason for this is that a meter is utilized to monitor the amount of electricity that flows in both directions, from and from home. Your utility company may give you credits for the excess energy you transfer back to the grid. These are referred to as net meters.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of solar energy and solar power, you’ll be amazed at the ways that modern photovoltaic technology can draw immense solar power to run a house. It’s not advanced science, but it is human ingenuity at its finest.
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