Sunlight contains a lot of energy; and a great deal of it hits the Earth’s surface. In fact, according to Energy.gov, enough reaches us in an hour and a half to account for a year’s worth of energy consumption worldwide. The sun is the ultimate renewable source of energy. Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight into electricity and are found on rooftops, roadside signs, street lights, and on spacecraft. View our diagram below to see how is solar converted into electricity.
As our solar panel diagram illustrates, solar energy is converted into electricity in the following steps:
- Sunlight Hits the Solar Panel: This generates an electric field at the junction between the solar cell’s silicon layers. The field is created via the separation of opposing charges; in this case, being the negative charge of phosphorus embedded in the silicon layer and positive charge of boron in the bottom layer.
- Electricity Begins to Flow: Solar cells are made of semi-conductive materials. As photons are absorbed, electrons are knocked loose and are forced to flow in a particular direction by the electric field. They are ultimately directed toward conductive metal plates, located on the side of the cell, and collected and transferred to wires attached to the panel.
- Electricity Is Delivered to the Inverter: The inverter transforms the electricity received from direct current, or DC, to alternating current, or AC electricity that is used to power appliances, electronics, and lights in homes, offices, and other buildings.
- Power Is Transported to the Electric Panel/Breaker Box: Electricity is distributed throughout the building. Now, solar energy can be used to power electrical devices, just as electricity from the utility is. As long as enough power is available, you can run any electrically powered device.
When More Electricity Is Produced Than Needed
The neat thing about solar power generation is more electricity may be generated than your home uses. Electricity not consumed is sent back through the utility meter into the utility grid. The flow of electricity is measured so, that which is directed back to the grid causes the meter to run backward. This allows the power company to credit you for excess electricity the system generates, in what is known as net metering.
There will be times your home will draw electricity from the grid. The meter will then run as it normally would, as long as you are still connected to the grid and not using an energy storage system. You’ll be charged for any grid energy used, but much of it will be offset by the excess solar energy your system generates.
How to Make Solar Panels
Solar panels are usually made of silicon, which is a semi-conductor. There are typically two layers of silicon used. The top layer is infused with phosphorous to add extra electrons. Boron is added to the bottom layer so there are fewer electrons. The idea is to create opposing electrical charges. Various other components turn the electrons that break free into power that is suited for everyday use
Contact Sunworks USA
It is easier than ever to install photovoltaic panels and solar energy systems in residential and commercial buildings. We make it even simpler by managing permitting, design, procurement, and construction so your solar project goes smoothly. Sunworks USA also helps customers with operating and maintaining their solar systems. To get a quote call 866-600-6800 today.