If you’ve ever wondered how solar panels actually work, this blog is for you. We’ll walk you through how solar panels use the sun’s energy to power your home right here in Northwest Arkansas or Missouri.

Step 1: Sunlight Activates the Panels

The large black solar panels you see on homes and businesses are made up of several silicon semiconductor-based solar cells (or photovoltaic cells) that absorb sunlight and generate an electric current. Individual cells are linked together to form a solar panel.

The panels are grouped together into arrays and placed on rooftops or in large outdoor spaces for maximum effect. During daylight hours, solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight.

Step 2: The Cells Produce Electrical Current

Within each solar cell, there is a thin semiconductor wafer made of two layers of silicon. An electric field is formed when one layer is positively charged and the other is negatively charged. When sunlight strikes a photovoltaic solar cell, it energizes it and causes electrons to “break free” from atoms within the semiconductor wafer. The electric field surrounding the wafer causes the relaxed electrons to move, which causes an electrical current to flow.

Step 3: The Electrical Energy is Converted

You can now efficiently convert sunlight into electricity using your established solar panels, but the electricity produced is known as direct current (or DC) electricity. This is not the type of electricity that most people use in their homes; most people use alternating current (or AC). Fortunately, an inverter is a device that can easily convert DC electricity to AC electricity. In modern solar systems, these inverters can be formatted as a single inverter for the entire system or as singular microinverters attached behind the panels.

Step 4: The Converted Electricity Powers your Home

DC to AC electricity, it is routed through your electrical panel and transmitted throughout your home to power your appliances. It operates in the same manner as the electrical power generated by your utility company via the grid, so nothing within the home needs to be changed. You can automatically draw additional electricity to supplement any solar shortages from the grid because you are still connected to your traditional power company.

Step 5: A Net Meter Measures Usage

Your solar panels may not be able to capture enough sunlight to generate energy on cloudy days or overnight. In contrast, when no one is home during the day, the panels may collect excess energy — more than you require to power your home. That is why a meter is used to measure the flow of electricity in both directions, to and from your home. Your utility company will frequently credit you for any excess power you send back to the grid. This is referred to as net metering. Through net metering, you can essentially earn money from the excess electricity that your solar panel creates but your home doesn’t use. This way, you’re able to earn a profit by sending your electricity to the power grid where it can then be used to power other homes or business establishments.

Step 6: Reap the Benefits of Solar Energy

Now that you know how solar panels generate electricity contact us for assistance in installing solar panels and start marveling at the benefits of solar technology that works for you! If you have any further questions about the solar process, please contact us. We will be happy to tell you more about the services we provide so that we can make the best decision for your home or business.