How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

For households and businesses that want to reduce their mains/grid energy consumption, cut the cost of their electricity bills and reduce their impact on the environment, installing a solar electricity system is a great solution.

But how do solar panels generate electricity?

While most of us understand the general concept of solar energy, few of us really understand how solar panels work to produce the electricity that powers your home or business. 

If you’re keen to know more about how it all works, this post will shed some light on the basics of solar energy production.

How solar panels work

Solar or photovoltaic (PV) panels consist of a series of individual silicone solar cells, encased together inside a metal frame in glass casing. 

The silicone (which is a semiconductor) cells are arranged much like a battery in two layers (one positive and one negative) to create an electric field. The individual cells are connected by wiring to create an electrical circuit.

When the energy packets (known as photons) which are released from the sun make contact with a solar cell, the electrons are released or knocked loose from their atoms—these electrons flow around the electrical circuit inside the solar panel, generating electricity.

solar panels

The role of the inverter

There are two different types of electrical current—direct current (DC) which is only able to travel around an electrical circuit in a single direction, and alternating current (AC) which has the ability to change direction. 

The electrical outlets installed in our homes are designed to conduct AC electricity, but the electricity produced by solar energy is DC power.

To manage this difference, solar energy systems need to be combined with an inverter to convert the DC power into usable AC electricity which can be fed into a households’ electrical system to power our appliances.

Depending on the size of the system, most solar systems are able to supply a good proportion (if not all) of your daily electricity needs. Any excess electricity you generate is fed back into the mains electricity grid. 

How do solar panels generate electricity at night time?

The short answer is that they don’t. Solar panels can only produce electricity when exposed to sunlight. 

While this is great for households that consume the largest amount of electricity during the daytime, if you generally consume more electricity during the evening when everyone returns home from work or school, most of the electricity produced by your solar system will simply be fed back into the mains electricity grid.

While this will still reduce your electricity bills in the form of feed-back tariffs, if you want to store the electricity you generate for later use to reduce your reliance on mains electricity, your solar system can also be combined with a battery storage unit. 

Make the switch to solar

Now that you know how solar panels generate electricity, why not make the switch to solar yourself?

At Lumax Solar, we can provide you with expert advice to design a solar energy system to suit your individual needs and make the most of this sustainable, earth-friendly energy solution. 

Contact us today to arrange a solar energy consultation for your home or business.

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