Drive through any southern California neighborhood and you are likely to see solar panels on the roofs of residents who have decided to save money, reduce their home energy use, and support the environment by going solar.
In fact, California is leading the solar revolution and has become the first state to generate more than 5% of electricity from utility solar. More and more businesses and residents in southern California are taking advantage of year round energy-producing sunshine, and saving thousands on their electric bills. With so many advantages of going solar, one of the first questions inquisitive minds ask is: how do solar panels work?
Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels are comprised of many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells (photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity).
One solar panel is made up of many small photovoltaic solar cells. Each of these cells uses light to make electrons move.:Below is a step by step process of how your solar panels convert the sun’s light into energy for your home.
- Everyday, light hits your roof’s solar panels with photons (particles of sunlight)
- The panel converts those photons into electrons of direct current (“DC”) electricity. Naturally, the sunnier it is, the more energy is produced by the panels.
- Those produced electrons flow out of the panel and into an inverter and other electrical safety devices.
- The inverter converts that “DC” power into alternating current or “AC” power. AC power is the kind of electric juice that your television, computer, and toasters use when plugged into the wall outlet.
- A bi-directional meter keeps track of the all the power your solar system produces. Any solar energy that you don’t use immediately will go back into the grid through the meter. Then at night or on cloudy days, that extra solar juice is credited back to your bill.
- Some homes will store the energy created from solar panels with a battery, this is not as common as connecting to the grid, but if you are able to accomplish this, then you have truly become energy independent!
Solar Tip! Solar panels that can avoid shade, can maximize sun coverage will produce the most solar energy power.
Considering going solar for your home energy needs? Don’t miss out on available tax credits and rebates that you can take advantage of