How Solar Panels Work?

Most people ask me how solar panels work. In this post, I will explain how solar panels work.

Why solar panels are called Photovoltaic modules

For solar professionals, solar panels are called PV modules, the word PV comes from the photovoltaic module.

They are called this to avoid confusion with solar panels that we can use for other things like heating water.

What is Photovoltaic?

Photovoltaic is the science of turning sunlight directly into electricity.

Photo stands for photons of sunlight.

Voltaic stands for Volts of electricity.

How solar panels work step by step

In simple terms, this is how solar panels work.

Step 1. The sun gives off light, even on cloudy days.

Step 2. PV cells on the panels turn the light into DC electricity.

Step 3. The current flows into an inverter, which converts it to AC electricity ready to use.

Step 4. The current is fed through a meter into your home’s consumer unit.

How does it work 

Solar panels contain solar cells made of layers of silicon, a semiconductor material made from sand.

When the photons of light enter a solar cell, they get absorbed and excite electrons in the silicon layers causing them to move and ultimately flow continuously through a circuit of wiring that feeds in the solar panel system. Harnessing this electron flow is what gives you electrical power.

Solar panels produce direct current. This means that electrons move in just one direction only.

Most home appliances we use are run by an alternating current, meaning electrons go back and forth about 60 times per second.

For the solar panels to produce electricity that you can use with home appliances, you need to have one or more inverters. 

The inverter is a device that will convert the direct current produced by the solar panels to the alternating current used by home appliances.

How do solar panels produce electricity at home?

All home solar panel systems start with a collection of connected solar panel modules.

The solar panel modules can be installed on the roof or the ground.

The modules in an array are usually wired together in groups. Each group is called a series string.

The series strings are joined near the array st a combiner box or other device, and the wiring from the box brings the power to the rest of the system components at the ground level.

Final words

That is how solar panels work, converting solar radiation to direct current electricity, then converting that electricity to alternating current electricity that can be used to power most of our home appliances.


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