We’ve all heard about solar energy being the “future of energy.” But, are we aware of how things work within these seemingly-flimsy panels?
Many individuals are aware that solar panels can transform sunlight into electricity that we can use. Yet, not all comprehend the science behind them.
If that’s your concern, no worries. We’ve got you covered. Keep on reading to learn all about how solar energy works in this comprehensive guide.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the emission of light and radiation from the sun, which is enough to generate electricity for all households across the world. This renewable source of energy is truly remarkable.
People have come up with multiple techniques to harness the power of the sun. The most notable is utilizing photovoltaic (PV) solar panels to transform the sunshine into electricity that can be used.
The Average Cost of Solar Energy
The cost of solar energy is determined by a number of variables, including the kind of solar system, the size of the system, the location, and others. A solar energy system typically costs between $15,000 and $30,000.
However, incentives and tax credits may greatly lower the cost of installation and upkeep. Furthermore, the savings on power costs over time might help cover the system’s cost.
How Solar Energy Works 101: Capturing Solar Energy
Now, it’s time to answer the fundamental question of how solar energy is generated. We’ll explain how solar panels take the energy from the sun and convert it into usable electricity for a home.
The most known types of solar panels are made using monocrystalline silicon. Next, you have polycrystalline silicon or thin-film solar cells.
When light shines on the thin semiconducting material, it sets off a reaction that sets free electrons from silicon atoms. These electrons, which are negatively charged, are drawn to the positive side of the cell, creating a photovoltaic effect.
This effect causes the electrons to flow freely. And, thus an electric current is produced which can be captured by the wiring connected to the solar panels to generate electricity.
The more sunlight that hits the solar panels, the more power they create. At times of the highest sun intensity, the panels in your solar setup absorb the greatest amount of sunlight. This allows them to transform it into the maximum amount of electricity.
Converting DC to AC
The next step is to talk about inverters. Solar panels generate power in the form of direct current (DC), which flows in a single direction. The energy utilized by equipment in our houses, on the other hand, is alternating current (AC), which means it alternates direction.
To convert solar DC electricity into usable AC power for your home, an inverter is necessary.
Taking use of solar energy requires a simple but critical task: the installation of an inverter. The system would produce energy without one, but nothing would be powered.
The type of inverter you select for your home solar energy system depends on the system’s dimensions and setup. A basic system will usually use a single, centralized string inverter.
Far more complicated systems may require microinverters for each individual panel. Depending on your home’s energy requirements, you have other inverter possibilities. They include power optimizers and hybrid inverters.
Solar inverters grant users the ability to link their solar panel setup to the web, allowing them to keep an eye on their system’s performance. This is beneficial as it helps them evaluate their solar energy output in comparison to their home’s energy consumption. This makes sure the system is running as intended and supplying the necessary electrical load.
Distributes Electricity Via Electrical Panel
The electrical panel in your home splits up the current, sending it to different regions. Circuit breakers act as a safeguard, cutting off the supply of electricity if a surge or fault is detected and thus protecting the wiring from being overloaded.
Solar panels usually do not provide electricity directly to your appliances. The same applies to your other electronic devices. But, rather they feed the electrical panel, which then separates the solar power into individual circuits to power the house.
Additionally, electrical panels can be used to track and monitor energy consumption. You can do so by attaching a device to the main panel or each circuit, providing more details about energy use and helping to optimize usage.
You’ll want to go with reputable companies like Blue Raven Solar, and they’ll help you understand all the relevant data you can get from your solar panels.
Recording Consumption and Production
Your electric meter (often referred to as a “utility meter”) is the device that your energy provider uses to determine how much electricity you have used. This is what they use to figure out your monthly bill.
Typically, electric meters have analog dials that rotate as electricity passes through them, which is why the energy company usually sends someone to read it manually every month. This meter reading is a summary of your electricity usage for the month.
When you switch to solar power, the electricity you use comes from your own solar panels, reducing the amount you take from the electric grid. This shows up on your electric meter as decreased usage, allowing you to save money by not paying for electricity from your utility provider.
Considering Smart Meters and Net Metering
If your home is equipped with a smart meter, you can benefit from net metering if it is available in your vicinity. If the solar panel system is linked to the power grid, net metering allows you to obtain credits from your local power provider.
Your smart electric meter will not only track how much energy you use. But, it also shows how much energy you produce. Excess energy can be sent to the power grid, allowing you to gain credits that can lower future electricity expenses.
Understanding Solar Panels: Level Unlocked
Now you understand the fundamentals of how solar energy works, you can appreciate how modern photovoltaic technology is able to capture and utilize the sun’s immense energy to power a home. While not a complex process, it is certainly a testament to human ingenuity.
And, if you’re looking into different ways to cut down on your electricity costs, or other avenues to make your home more sustainable, we’ve got your back.
Check out our home improvement section for more tips and information that will help you update your home into a smart haven.