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Solar systems offer a sustainable, reliable, and cost-efficient way of powering homes and businesses in the long run. With solar panels installed, property owners can benefit from reduced energy costs and enjoy peace of mind when utilizing a renewable energy source.
But what are solar panels? What are they made of, and how do they work? By understanding how solar panels operate and how they’re made, you make informed decisions when you get your own solar system.
How Solar Systems Work
Solar energy is one of the most promising renewable energy sources available in the market. Solar panel systems harness this energy and convert it into electricity. To understand how solar panel systems work, it’s important to understand the basics of solar energy.
Solar energy is created when sunlight strikes the surface of a solar panel and is converted into energy in the form of heat and light. This energy is then absorbed by the solar cells, composed of a special material called a photovoltaic (PV) cell. This material is designed to convert the sun’s energy into electricity.
The PV cells are connected in a solar panel system, much like the individual cells on a standard battery. These cells are then connected to an inverter, which converts the direct current (DC) from the cells into the alternating current (AC) used to power your home. This AC power is then sent to your home’s electrical system, allowing you to power your appliances and other electrical needs.
Solar panel systems can be installed on the roof of a home or building or on the ground. The size of the system will depend on the amount of energy required and the space available.
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Once installed, solar systems will then be connected to the electrical grid. You can also opt to include battery storage for hybrid and off-grid systems.
Whether you are required to connect your solar system to the grid to generate electricity for your home is subject to local and state laws. You’ll need to research the proper permits and inspections and consult your state for any restrictions and fees to go completely off-grid.
Solar panel systems can produce a significant amount of energy. Still, it is important to note that the amount of energy produced by a solar panel system will depend on the amount of sunlight available at the location. In areas with less sunshine, the energy produced by the panels may be lower, while areas with more sun may generate more power.
Understanding the Composition of Solar Panels
Solar panels are composed of several components, each playing an important role in converting light into electricity. Here’s a quick breakdown of these components and their uses:
The most visible component of the solar panel is the light-receiving surface, which is usually composed of a combination of glass and plastic. Some refer to this as tempered glass. This layer captures the light and transmits it to the underlying cells.
Photovoltaic (PV) Cells
The cells contain photovoltaic material, which converts the light into electrical energy. This material is typically made of semiconductors like silicon or gallium arsenide, although other materials can be used.
PV cells are connected in a series, which is connected to a wiring system, directing electricity to the intended destination.
The backsheet is the layer between the cells and the wiring system. It helps protect the cells from the elements and supports the wiring system.
Finally, the frame completes the solar panel. It supports the cells and backsheet and allows the panel to be mounted to a structure.
The frame completes the solar panel system, and a junction box protects this whole system. This box disconnects any short-circuited solar cell strings in case of emergency. Furthermore, the box and the system are sealed strongly with silica gel for added safety.
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Proven Advantages of a Solar System
As energy prices continue to rise, homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their energy costs and do their part to help the environment. Solar energy is an excellent way to do both. Installing solar panels can significantly lower energy costs and carbon footprint.
Here are some advantages of installing a solar system:
- Cost savings: Solar energy is a renewable energy source that requires no fuel and produces no emissions, making it an incredibly cost-effective way to generate energy. With a solar installation, you can significantly reduce your utility bill.
- Environmental benefits: Solar energy is a clean, renewable energy source that does not generate greenhouse gases or other pollutants. Solar energy helps reduce one’s carbon footprint and contributes to a healthier environment.
- Increased property value: Installing solar panels on your property may significantly increase its value. Homes with solar panels sold for 4.1% more than properties without solar installations in the US, according to Zillow’s 2019 research.
- Tax credits and incentives: Solar incentives and rebates vary by state and utility company. One important solar incentive is the federal tax credit for eligible homeowners with solar PV systems. These rewards can offset the installation cost, making it an even more cost-efficient power source for homeowners.
- Low maintenance: Solar energy systems generally require very little maintenance. They’ll need maintenance and upkeep about two to four times a year. Your warranty should cover most repairs and cleaning costs, if needed.
- Long-term investment. Solar panels can last up to 25 years, making them a great investment that can continue to save you money on your energy bills even after the initial installation cost has been paid off.
The advantages of getting a solar installation are clear. Not only does it drastically reduce energy bills and carbon footprint, but it also potentially increases a property’s value. It’s a great way to invest in your home while doing your part to save the environment.
Get a Solar Installation Today
Solar panels are a great way to produce clean, renewable energy. They have also become more accessible and affordable with financing options and incentives, attracting business owners and families seeking to reduce their environmental footprint and energy costs.
Understanding their components and their uses makes it easier to understand how solar panels can capture and convert solar energy into usable electricity. Go green and clean now!
About the author
Eden Gabriels is an experienced Community Relations Manager at Sunrun. With a decade of experience in community outreach and engagement, he is passionate about building strong relationships and empowering communities. He is also a passionate sustainable energy writer and has contributed to a variety of websites on solar-relevant topics.