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How Do Solar Panels Work?

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We’re all looking for ways we can be more conscious of our carbon footprint and environmental impact, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Going solar is a good place to start. Solar panels are a clean, efficient way to generate electricity for your home — and save money on your electricity bills at the same time! But how do solar panels work? Let’s explore the process from start to finish.

The Basics

How Does Solar Work (1)Let’s start with the simplest question: what is solar power?

As the sun shines, it emits electromagnetic radiation, which strikes the Earth’s surface. This energy is constantly shining down on us — as long as the sun is out. In the past, even though this energy was abundant, there was no way to capture it. However, solar panels have changed that.

Solar panels work by capturing solar energy from the sun’s rays. This is then converted into usable AC power for your home — and any extra energy can be stored in batteries for later use or fed back into the grid for use by others. Take a look at the infographic below to see the step by step process.

What makes solar power different from other power sources? It relies on sunlight rather than non-renewable resources such as natural gas to generate electricity. Sunlight is abundant, clean, and sustainable; it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, which makes it the perfect solution for homeowners who want to go green and save some money along the way.

The Technology

Now that you know the basic process of how solar panels work, what technology actually powers the system? Most home solar systems make use of photovoltaic cells — those dark, flat panels you see on roofs of homes or buildings powered by solar.

First, sunlight hits the solar panels on your roof. These PV cells are made of silicon, which is a semiconductor material. When sunlight hits the PV cells, it knocks loose electrons in the silicon, causing a flow of electricity.

The electricity generated by the PV cells is direct current (DC) electricity, which is not compatible with the alternating current (AC) electricity that is used in our homes. In order to make the electricity usable, the DC electricity is sent to an inverter, which converts it to AC electricity.

Next, the AC electricity is sent to your home's electrical panel, where it is used to power your lights, appliances, and other electrical devices.

What Happens to Extra Electricity?

If you don’t use all of the electricity that your solar panels generate, where does it go? The answer depends on your solar system. Excess electricity may be fed back into the grid for use in your community. If this is the case, you will often receive credits which can then be used to buy back electricity in times when your solar panels do not generate enough. Another option is to store the excess electricity in a battery system for later use. This allows you to use the solar electricity even when the sun isn't shining.

Time to Go Solar?

Now that you understand how solar panels work, are you looking for a way to reduce your impact on the environment and lower your energy bills? Efficient, effective solar panels are a great way to do that. Think solar’s too expensive? PosiGen can help. Our process is simple and honest — we won’t recommend you go solar unless we can guarantee savings, and our solar leasing program is designed to bring affordable solar to all. Reach out to us to start saving energy today!


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