How Does a Solar Panel Work?

How Does a Solar Panel Work?

Just a few decades ago, solar panels remained firmly in the realm of either science fiction or magic. Today, we know they work and are extremely effective, but most of us still have no idea how solar panels turn the sun’s rays into energy that can power your kettle.

Understanding how your solar panels work is interesting, and it’s also never a bad idea to get better acquainted with the technical nature of your panels.

Let’s take a look at how solar panels work.

The Panels Absorb Sunlight

The sun produces an almost unfathomable amount of energy every day. When you set up solar panels, a tiny fraction of the sun’s power (which is still an enormous amount) is absorbed by things called photovoltaic (PV) cells in your panels.

These cells, which are also sometimes simply called solar cells, are able to convert the energy from the sun into electricity. Here’s how that works:

The PV Cells Turn Sunlight Into Electricity

Each PV cell is made up of semiconductor material, which means it’s able to conduct electricity better than an insulator (like wood) but not as effectively as a conductor like steel. When the sunlight reached the semiconductor, the energy from the light is transferred to electrons (negatively charged particles) within the material, causing them to move through the semiconductor as electrical current.

The Electricity Is Converted by a Solar Inverter

You now have electricity flowing through your solar panels. Good work! But the process isn’t over yet — that electricity isn’t ready to power your home. That’s because the electricity generated by your solar cells is direct current (DC) electricity, and your home appliances need alternating current (AC) electricity.

This is where your solar inverter comes into play. It converts the electricity from DC into AC, allowing you to power your home.

Time to Power Your Home

Now you have electricity that is compatible with the appliances in your home, the process is almost complete. The electricity is transferred from the solar panels into your home, in the same way power comes into your home from traditional energy sources via the electrical grid.

How Much Maintenance Do Solar Panels Need?

Once your solar panels are up and running, they require very little maintenance to keep things ticking over. Your main responsibility here will be to keep your panels clean and free of debris – use a special brush to clean them every once in a while and consider installing critter guards if your roof regularly plays host to small animals. It can also be useful to have your panels professionally inspected once every year or two.

Can Solar Power Your Whole Home?

If you install enough good-quality panels, you should be able to meet most of the energy needs of a normal-sized Australian home with solar power. In areas like Queensland which get a lot of sunny days, this is even easier. Make sure you talk to the experts to find out the best type and size of solar panel system that fits your personal needs and budget.

Store Excess Power In Batteries

This doesn’t apply to every solar panel system, but if you invest in solar batteries you can use your solar electricity more efficiently and keep your system running even during times when sunlight is scarce.

When the sun is shining, it’s common for your solar panels to produce more electricity than you need right now. Often, this surplus energy is simply wasted, but if you install solar batteries you can conserve the energy for later. At night, or during periods when there is less sunlight, you can tap into your solar reserves to keep your home powered and minimise your reliance on the expensive energy grid.

Work with SnapSolar

At first, solar panels can seem confusing and even intimidating. That’s why it’s always best to work with a team of experts who understand the technology and can help answer any questions and address any points of confusion you might have.

At SnapSolar, we help households and businesses throughout Queensland transition to solar power and we can help you do the same. Contact us to find out more and get started.

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