How does solar energy work? The science behind solar

Feb 28th 23
8:30:34 am

Ever wondered what goes on in a solar panel? Renewable solar energy is one of the most important advancements of our time, but how exactly does it work? With no noise pollution, no fossil fuel consumption, and a dazzling array of potential applications, solar energy remains a mystery to most. However, if you’re thinking of going solar and want to know how your home can be powered by sunlight, find out more below.

Rooftop PV solar panels

Photovoltaic energy (PV)

Did you know that the technology used in solar panels today has remained relatively unchanged since the 1950s? Essentially, solar panels have cells that collect photovoltaic energy from the sun's radiation. Most homes use between 15-25 solar panels to generate power. Each solar panel contains a string of 60-72 solar cells, made from monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon. Every one of these cells collects energy from the sun and turns it into electricity. When photons from the sun's rays hit the thin layer of silicon on top of the solar panels, they knock electrons off the silicon atoms.

Solar panels generate DC electricity, which is then converted into AC by a solar inverter. We use alternating current to power our homes, not the direct current produced in photovoltaic energy, which is why an inverter is necessary. The solar inverter then supplies energy to your home. The amount of energy generated by solar panels varies depending on your location, and weather patterns. Solar panels work best in dry and temperate climates but work well in a range of weather conditions from hot and humid to extremely cold climates.

Excess energy generated by your solar panels is either put back into the grid with net metering or can be stored in solar batteries, making you energy independent, even in a blackout. Net metering is obligatory in some states, so find out what rules apply to you.

Battery storage power backup

Did you know that if we could collect the energy produced by the sun in one day, we could power the whole world with solar energy for an entire year? Currently, solar panels are only between 15-20% efficient, but that's more than enough to generate electricity for your home. What's more, solar energy technology is continuously advancing, with the possibility of higher efficiency rates in the future. Some models currently provide a 20.9% efficiency rate due to advancing technologies that allow solar panels to use space more effectively and even use both sides of each solar panel to generate electricity.

SolarQuote can provide you with all the information you need to purchase your own solar. Go to our website to get an accurate estimate of what going solar will cost you, and find out how easy it is to purchase solar panels online. You can explore an overview of our solar energy products and get to know the manufacturers we work with in order to select a product that will provide you with a reliable energy source for 25 years or more.