1. How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

Share:

Facebook Tweet mail
blog post author image

Written by: Josh McFadden | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: July 13th, 2020

It's remarkable how something just 18 square feet in size can accomplish so much.

In today's environmentally friendly, cost-conscious world, residents and businesses everywhere are ditching traditional power for their homes and places of work for the emerging solar power systems. The ingenious devices are capable of generating enough electricity to keep your appliances, electronics and other household items running all day long-and even through night.

Design and positioning

So how do the sun's rays and solar panels on your roof combine to provide all the power you need? The answer is nothing magically; rather, it all happens due to design and science.

Most solar panels come in sizes 3 ½ feet by 5 ½ feet. They are typically in the 185-240 watt range. The panels are either photovoltaic or solar thermal. Within the panels are individual cells, each of which are made up of silicon-based semiconductors, placed in between a pair of electrical contacts. The semiconductors are positively charged on one side and negatively on the other. A glass sheet is placed over the panels to product them from environmental factors such as hail, rain, snow, wind, dust and dirt. In addition, there is also a special antireflective coating placed on the panels. This ensures that the rays are absorbed in the panels and not uselessly reflected from them.

Creating a current

When strategically placed in the direct sunlight-most effectively facing toward the south in a sloping manner-a greater amount of solar rays will hit the panels. Sunrays are composed of tiny particles called photons, and these absorbed photons will then use their energy to knock electrons loose from the atoms in the tightly packed semiconductors. Because the semiconductors are dual-charged, the loose electrons will begin to travel in the same direction, creating an electric current-a direct current to be specific.

Ready for your home

In order for the electric current to produce usable electricity for homes and businesses, the direct current (DC) must be converted into an alternating current (AC). This is achieved through the use of an inverter. This device will take the DC the panels created and change it into AC, ready for your home or business to power all your needs.

The Top Solar Companies

company logo
#1 SunPower chevron_right
9.6 Overall Score
4.2
starstarstarstarstar_half
(1,157)
company logo
#2 Zenernet chevron_right
9.1 Overall Score
4.7
starstarstarstarstar_half
(577)
company logo
#3 Solar Optimum chevron_right
9.0 Overall Score
4.9
starstarstarstarstar_half
(351)

Related Articles

Solar Giant Sungevity Is Back in Business

July 06, 2020

Founded in 2007 by Danny Kennedy, Andrew Birch, and Alec Guettel, Sungevity was a solar company originally based in Oakl...

Read More
Your Most Important Solar Energy Questions Answered - Intr...

July 13, 2020

Are you thinking about making the switch to solar? Maybe you'd like to lower your electricity bill, or perhaps you want ...

Read More
10 Things Only People Who Have Solar Panels Will Understan...

April 30, 2020

1. When the solar salesperson first knocks on your door via GIPHY 2. When they start to give you their pitch about how ...

Read More