How Do Solar Panels Work? The Ultimate Guide

Solar energy really is picking up a lot of interest. And why wouldn’t it? Renewable energy is clean, reliable, and more and more of us are turning to the sun to help run our businesses and households.

In many cases, solar paneling can even help us to save money on our energy bills, and make a little bit of money back from the energy supplier while we’re at it.

However, the technology behind solar panels can be a little complex. It’s easy to assume that you just have to place PV cells on top of your roof and the rest is left to chance. However, it’s a little more involved than that!

If you’re considering installing solar panels of your own, make sure to take a look at our full guide on how solar panels work below.

How do solar panels work?

Solar power revolves around PV, or photovoltaic cells. These cells, essentially, capture rays and energy from the sun, and convert it into energy that we can use to power our homes and buildings.

For solar panels to work in practice, photovoltaic cells will need conduction. Often, they will be fixed in place by silicone, which is a semi-conductor. You’ll find that silicone, as an example, creates an electric field as soon as sun hits it.

Specifically, there are several conducting layers in a solar panel. They take in photons from the sun’s rays, create fields, and produce an all-important current. You might have heard of this as ‘photoelectric’.

From here, any energy captured by a panel array will direct current through inverters. This is because currents need to switch alternate to power a building, or to head back to the grid.

A Step By Step Guide to How Solar Panels Work

Ok – so, let’s break solar cells and how they work in a little more detail.

  • PV, or photovoltaic cells, take on energy from the sun.
  • These cells will then convert this energy into electricity through DC.
  • Your inverter will then convert DC to AC. This allows it to be used in homes and other buildings.
  • Any energy left over can be sent back to the National Grid. This is where you may be able to make money back!
How do solar panels work?
Diagram credit: Good Energy

What are the Advantages of Solar Power?

  • Solar power is clean energy. It doesn’t make any noise, and it doesn’t create any harmful carbon pollution.
  • Solar panels generate energy and electricity without releasing toxins into the air.
  • Solar panel technology is surprisingly easy to maintain. Once your installer has set up your panels, there’s little else you’ll need to do other than keep them clean.
  • Providing the sun’s out, you’ll be able to absorb power. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a sunny day for solar power to work.
  • You won’t need much space to set up solar panels. It’s one of the lowest-hassle technologies offering renewable power.
  • You can even reserve energy you generate from solar panels in batteries. This means that you will always have a stack of alternating current, or AC electricity, that you can use to save money.
  • In some cases, you can sell current DC electricity back to the National Grid which you absorb from the sun.

What are the Disadvantages of Solar Power?

  • Solar panels can be very expensive to set up at the point of sale. But, many people state that the costs balance out over time
  • But, depending on the types of solar power you invest in, you will also need to pay for storage. This might be expensive.
  • Some also argue that the savings you’ll make from selling electricity back to the grid actually isn’t that much (we disagree, when all savings are considered!)

Will Solar Panels Only Work on Sunny Days?

One of the fantastic benefits to renewable energy is the fact that it’s always possible to generate electricity. Providing there is daylight (not even necessarily a sunny day), you’ll be able to generate and store energy.

It doesn’t have to be sunny for you to store electricity through solar panels. But, cloudy and overcast days might not generate as much electricity as you’d normally get on a bright summer’s day. This is normal.

But, this is where a battery storage system might come in handy! Some leading solar panels and systems – such as the ones we install – will come with batteries that you can fall back on to generate electricity.

Effectively, you generate power on sunny days, and when things get too overcast or overnight, you fall back on your battery. It also means you won’t have to waste money connecting to the grid.

We hope this has shown you in a little more depth how solar panels and solar energy works to generate greener, renewable energy.

For a quote on solar panel installations from our friendly and professional service team, Call Us Today.

Peter Chalmers

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