How it works seems like a mystery to some, but we've all seen it used to power everyday things like calculators. It is also used to supply electricity to the appliances and lights we use in our homes. Even utility companies use solar power to supplying hundreds of houses with megawatts of electricity. If you decide to power your house with a solar electric system, you will receive FREE power from the sun, once your system is paid for. Here are two of the most frequently asked questions for solar power how it works.
How is solar energy used?
- Solar energy works by converting the sun's rays into electricity with the use of solar panels to supply power to the appliances use in our homes.
- Solar energy works by converting the sun's rays into heat with the use of solar thermal collectors for warming water, i.e. for the swimming pool.
- Solar energy works by converting the sun's rays into hot air for heating buildings with the use of solar thermal collectors.
How do solar panels work?
- Rays of sunlight hit the solar panel (also know as a photovoltaic/ PV) and are absorbed by semi-conducting materials such as silicone.
- Electrons are knocked loose from their atoms, which allow them to flow through the material to produce electricity. This process whereby light (photo) is converted into electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect.
- An array of solar panels converts solar energy into DC (direct current) electricity.
- The DC electricity then enters an inverter.
- The inverter turns DC electricity into 120-volt AC (alternating current) electricity needed by home appliances.
- The AC power enters the utility panel in the house.
- The electricity (load) is then distributed to appliances or lights in the house.
- When more solar energy is generated that what you're using - it can be stored in a battery as DC electricity. The battery will continue to supply your home with electricity in the event of a power blackout or at nighttime.
- When the battery is full the excess electricity can be exported back into the utility grid, if your system is connected to it.
- Utility supplied electricity can also be drawn form the grid when not enough solar energy is produced and no excess energy is stored in the battery, i.e. at night or on cloudy days.
- he flow of electricity in and out of the utility grid is measured by a utility meter, which spins backwards (when you are producing more energy that you need) and forward (when you require additional electricity from the utility company). The two are offset ensuring that you only pay for the additional energy you use from the utility company. Any surplus energy is sold back to the utility company. This system is referred to as "net-metering".