How solar works

Everything you want to know about harnessing the power of the sun

Solar is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. With the increase in quality of solar equipment, and the decrease in cost to obtain a system. Many countries have started to look at solar as a safe and reliable energy solution.

When considering solar for your home, it can be really tough to know where to start. Especially if you don't fully understand how the system works. In this article, we take a look at exactly how solar panels work with your home, as well as take a look at how easy it is to go solar.


How does solar energy work?

Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight with photovoltaic cells, generating direct current (DC) energy and then converting it to usable alternating current (AC) energy with the help of inverter technology. AC energy then flows through the home’s electrical panel and is distributed accordingly.

A solar panel consists of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing and some wiring to allow current to flow from the silicon cells. Silicon is a nonmetal with conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current. This is known as the “photovoltaic effect,” and it describes the functionality of solar panel technology.

In the photovoltaic process, the silicon cell absorbs and converts sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity that is then turned into alternating current (AC) electricity with the help of a solar inverter. That AC energy is then distributed through your home’s electrical panel and becomes readily available for devices and appliances to use.

In addition to solar cells, solar panesl includes a glass casing that offers durability and protection for the silicon PV cells. Under the glass exterior, the panel has a layer for insulation and a protective back sheet, which protects against heat dissipation and humidity inside the panel. The insulation is important because increases in temperature will lead to a decreases in efficiency, resulting in lower performance

Solar panels have an anti-reflective coating that increases sunlight absorption and allows the cells to receive the best possible sunlight exposure. Silicon solar cells are generally manufactured in two cell formations: monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Monocrystalline cells are made up of a single silicon crystal, whereas polycrystalline cells are made up of fragments or shards of silicon. Mono formats provide more room for electrons to move around and thus offer a higher efficiency solar technology than polycrystalline, though they are typically more expensive.


How does grid connection work with solar panels?

While most people understand how panels work, there’s still a lot of general confusion about how the grid factors into the home solar process. Any home that is connected to the electrical grid will have something called a utility meter that your energy provider uses to measure and supply power to your home. When you install solar panels on your roof or on a ground mount on your property, they are eventually connected to your home’s utility meter. The production of your solar system can actually be accessed and measured by this meter.

Most homeowners in the U.S. have access to net metering, a solar incentive that significantly improves the economics of solar. If you have net metering, you can send power to the grid when your solar system is overproducing in exchange for credit on your electric bill. During hours of low electricity production (such as nighttime or overcast days), you can use your credits to draw extra energy from the grid and meet your household electricity demand. Net metering offers a free storage solution to property owners who go solar, making solar an all-in-one energy solution.

The most common question that people have when going solar is what to do at night or on days with bad weather, net metering is a game changer and allows you to meet your home's energy needs, while still allowing you to pull energy from the grid when needed. If you are considering an off-grid system, batteries are an excellent option, with brands like Sonnen and LG innovating new battery technology constantly.


If you are in the early stage of shopping for solar and would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, give us a call at 801-590-9906. Synergy Power will provide you with an estimate based on factors such as past electricity bills, location and roof type.



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