Ground mounted panels

How Does a Solar Panel System Work?

If you are considering upgrading to a solar panel system, you’ve probably been thinking about the benefits of solar energy, how a solar panel system works, and what you can expect from the switch from traditional power options. Switching to solar energy is a big change that can save you money and benefit the planet in a major way. But how does solar energy power your home?


What Is a Solar Panel?


Understanding how solar energy works starts with the panels. Solar panels collect sunlight and convert it into energy for your home to use. But solar panels themselves are made up of individual sections called “solar cells”.


Solar cells are made from crystalline silicon sandwiched between conductive metal panels. The silicon sandwich is made up of two different kinds of silicon. The N-type silicon rests on top of the P-type silicon. N-type silicon has extra electrons, while the P-type has extra spaces for electrons or “holes”. The “P/N junction” is created where the two layers meet. The P/N junction creates a negative charge on one side and a positive charge on the other, not unlike the opposing sides of a typical battery.


Solar cells themselves don’t create much energy, which is why they’re strung together in panels. These panels are what we install on your property and are used to power your home. But how does the conversion of solar energy to electrical energy happen?


How Does a Solar Panel Work?


When the sun strikes a solar panel with enough energy, the photons from the suns rays knock an electron from the N-type silicon and creates a hole. The negatively charged electron and the location of the positively charged hole gravitate towards the conductive outer layers.


The electrons continue through the conductive layer to thin metal sheets referred to as “fingers”, which then feed into an external circuit or inverter. The inverter converts the Direct Current power from the solar panels into an Alternating Current which is the standard power supply of many homes, appliances, and other luxuries.


After the electrons have been used for power, they continue to travel along their path, through a conductive aluminum sheet and back to the original hole created.


How Does Solar Energy Power My Home?


When the solar energy from the direct current is converted into the alternating current, it then travels to your home’s electrical service panel. From there, your home is able to power itself as if it were pulling energy from the grid as normal.


What Happens When It Isn’t Sunny?


On cloudy days or at night, it’s likely that your home needs more energy than your panels are creating. On sunny days, your panels will create more energy than you’re likely to be using. At these times, excess energy created from your solar panels will flow into something called “home energy storage”. The energy from the home energy storage can be saved and drawn from in times when sunlight is limited, and can even be returned to the grid and sold back to utility companies.


Upgrading your home to use solar technology is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money at the same time. Because electrons are the only moving parts of a solar panel system, there aren’t components to become worn out or overused, and solar cells can last for decades. Solar technology is a great way to power your home in a sustainable way.

If you do find that you have questions or you’re ready to take the next steps towards converting your home to solar energy, the professionals at Lighthouse Solar can help you install the best solar system for your needs. We provide both roof mounted and ground mounted solar panels. Saving money and playing your role in protecting the planet is now easier than you once thought possible. Give us a call and begin right away!