How do solar panels actually work?

Everything you‘ve always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.

Solar energy
These two words fall from the lips of everyone from politicians, scientists, climate change activists and the lovely couple next door. But what is solar energy and how do solar panels work? At Progress Electrical, we believe if you’re thinking about installing solar panels, you need to be well informed. And understanding the basics right is a great place to start.

What is solar energy?
Solar energy is the heat and light generated by the Sun. The Sun is the original nuclear reactor. In our solar system anyway. It releases energy particles called photons which travel the 150 million kilometres to Earth in about 8 ½ minutes. Did you know, every hour, enough photons arrive on Earth that could theoretically generate enough energy for the entire planet for one year? The Sun’s energy is captured and turned into electricity, which in turns powers anything you need it to power.

How do solar panels work?
When photons make contact with the solar cells in a panel, they knock electrons loose from the atoms. If the positive and negative sides of the cell have conductors attached, it creates an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through the circuit, electricity is generated. Many cells make up a solar panel and lots of panels can be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels, the more electricity is generated. This is one reason it’s so important to have a qualified technician, such as one of the Progress Electrical team, take the time to sit down with you to discuss the solar array that works best for your home or business.

How do solar panels generate electricity?
Sunlight shines on the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on the roof of your home or business. The panels converts the solar energy into direct current (DC) electricity. However, the Australian electrical grid uses alternating current (AC) electricity because it’s cheaper to transmit over long distances making electricity accessible to everyone. This means the DC electricity needs to be converted into AC electricity. We do this using an inverter. The electricity can now be used to power all your electrical appliances. Click here to read more about inverters.

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