The Mysterious World of Solar Panels De-mystified

Have you ever driven by someone’s house and seen a dark-colored panel on the rooftop? If you did, it is most likely a solar panel. Solar panels are designed to convert sunlight into direct current (DC). This then can be used in your home or office. So. how does this “magic” happen? How solar panels work is actually simple in principle. The panels are made of silicon semiconductors, known as solar cells.When light or photons hit the solar panel, electrons are released. Silicon cells are attached in a way so that when the electrons are released it creates electricity. The electricity that is released is tapped and channeled. Each panel will have many solar cells.

How Solar Panels Work with Alternating Current

Once electricity is created by solar panels, it takes more equipment to make it useful. The reason for this is because direct current cannot be used in most household appliances. Most appliances are designed to be used with alternating current or AC. This is when a device known as an inverter comes into the picture. The role of the inverter is very simple. It converts DC into AC. However, modern-day inverters are capable of doing much more than that.

Inverters also give ground fault protection as well as system stats. System stats include voltage information on circuits, power point tracking and amount of electricity produced. In other words, solar panels are almost useless without an inverter, since inverters are essentially the “brain” of a solar panel system. Inverters are needed for the safe operation of solar panel circuitry.

The following is a step by step process of how a well installed solar installation should work. First, the sunlight contacts the solar panel or solar cell. Second, sunlight energy is converted to DC energy. Wires attached to the solar panel take DC energy to the inverter. The inverter converts DC into AC and then regulates the amount of electricity that gets released into your home. In some cases, batteries are installed between the solar panels and the inverter. When this is done, the batteries will get charged and can be used later.This is what people who live off the grid in log cabins, or boats, will typically do.

It’s About the Power

No conversation regarding how solar panels work is complete without talking about electric power ratings. The amount of electricity you get from each panel will depend entirely on the size of the panel. Another name for electric power is wattage. The easiest way to understand power generation or wattage by a solar panel is to multiply volts into amps. A panel designed to work at 12 V and 2 amps, will have a wattage capability of 24. Understanding how much wattage a solar panel is capable of is very important when deciding how many panels you will need to run your house. A side note to all this is that sunlight must strike the panels directly, without any sort of interference, in order to get solar panels to work well.