How Do Solar Panels Work Exactly? A Complete Guide


We’re not strangers to solar energy anymore. We see solar panels powering homes and vehicles everywhere. It is one of the fastest-growing alternative energy sources available to use.

Although we may be familiar with seeing solar panels, many people still find themselves asking, “how do solar panels work?”

Here’s your answer to that question.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

When buying solar panels, an installation company like Blue Raven will come to your property and install the solar panels for you.

Your brand new solar panels can then get to work. The best solar panels will work through a five-step process.

Step 1: They Absorb Sunlight

The first step is an obvious one. The first thing your solar panels do is absorb sunlight. Specifically, they are absorbing photons. Photons are massless particles. All light is made up of photons.

When a photon hits a solar cell, it displaces an electron and creates a “hole” in the cell. This triggers two charges, one negative and one positive. This is what makes a voltage and an electrical current.

Step 2: They Generate Current

When these positive and negative charges are created, they combine to make a direct current (commonly known as DC). Every solar cell has positive and negative layers. This allows electrons to travel between the two layers, leaving a positive charge on one side and a negative charge on the other.

Every cell puts out roughly half a volt.

Step 3: Current is Converted

While the solar panels are generating a current at this stage, it needs converting. The current in the solar panel is DC, which cannot be used to power your home. The solar panel will need to convert the current from DC to AC.

AC stands for alternating current and is the type of electricity used in buildings. Solar panel technology includes something called an inverter. The inverter works to transform unusable DC electricity into available AC electricity.

You’ll lose a small amount of power at this stage.

Step 4: Electricity is Used

The AC electricity from the inverter will then make its way to an external circuit. From there, the electricity goes through to power your home.

Home solar panels are incredibly effective, and you can use them to power your lights, tv, outlets, appliances, or any other electrical equipment in your house. Many electricity providers now offer renewable solar energy programs. Those programs not only benefit the environment but also drastically reduce your power bills.

Step 5: Leftover Electricity

Occasionally, solar panels will produce more energy than you need to keep your house running. When this happens, there are two options.

The first thing you can do is get a solar battery. You can use this to store the excess electricity and make sure you never run out, especially handy in a bind. This option is best for people seeking to live more off-grid

The second option you have is to sell the excess electricity. If you’re using net metering, energy companies will pay you for your extra power. The power gets sent to the grid, through which the energy company can power other homes and buildings.

Solar Panels Are a Great Alternative Energy Source

So there’s your answer to the question, “how do solar panels work?” Solar panel science is an incredibly fascinating and growing market. Solar panels continue to be cheap and clean alternatives to traditional energy sources.

If you enjoyed this article, check out more of our science content today.


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