How Do Solar Panels Work? The Technology and Science Explained

Solar Panels

There are several reasons why solar panels are becoming more popular, but how do solar panels work? Here’s what you need to understand.

Solar panels are becoming the hot new item for homeowners looking to save money on rising electricity costs. It’s well-known that solar panels reduce your electricity spending considerably.

But what’s less understood is how they work. If you’re curious to learn “how do solar panels work,” you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve put together a quick and handy guide to get you started. Read on to learn more.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

The main principle of solar panel science is pretty easy to understand. We harness the energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. But how do solar panels actually absorb the sun?

Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells, which are thin sheets of silicon. The top sheet is usually infused with phosphorous, and the bottom with boron. This gives the top sheet a negative charge, and the bottom a positive one.

The two plates create an electrical field with an overall net negative charge. Thinking back to high school science class, if something has a negative charge, this means that it has an excess of electrons.

When photons from the sun hit the negatively charged top sheet, electrons are knocked loose. These electrons then are pushed out by the electrical field generated between the silicon plates.

Generating Electricity

From the solar panel, the electrons then make their journey to metal conductive plates. These plates “trap” the electrons and funnel them to wires.

At this point, the electrons are now officially electricity, and function just like any other electrical current. However, most households cannot use this electricity just yet.

Converting DC to AC

Household power distributors use AC, or alternating current, to power appliances and other household electrical needs. However, the current coming from a solar panel is direct current (DC).

The next crucial component of a solar panel system is thus the inverter. This is a device that converts direct current to alternating current.

There are a few different types of inverters on the market. Most generic solar panel systems use a string inverter, but some systems may require a more expensive (and efficient) microinverter.

Distributing the Power

After the electrical current is converted from direct current to alternating, it must get sent to the house itself.

Inverters are hooked up directly to the power distribution box on your house. This can be completely solar-powered or work in a hybrid with the local electrical grid.

At the power distribution box, the electricity travels to different areas of the house. You may have seen this box if you’ve ever gone to fix the breaker after a power surge.

Giving Back to the Grid

The best part about “how do solar panels work” is that any electricity you don’t use in your house is sent back to the power grid. This means that if you are producing more power than you use, your meter goes backward.

This results in getting a credit on your bills from the electrical company. You’re actually producing electricity and selling it back to them for everyone to use!

If you are interested in learning more about solar panel companies, check out Blue Raven. They offer a full suite of solar installation options and consultations.

Solar Power for the Future

As you can see, the question of “how do solar panels work” is pretty straightforward. Solar panels are a great way to save on electricity costs and make big steps towards renewable energy for the future of the planet.

For more mind-expanding articles on science and technology, be sure to check out the Technology section of our blog!


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