How Do Solar Panels Work, Exactly?


    By now, solar power has become an everyday aspect of our lives. Solar panels have been installed on commercial buildings, residential homes, and even cars. We’ve become so used to seeing solar panels that we just take them for granted without thinking much about how they actually work. 

    So, we’re going to do some explaining. Here’s how a standard photovoltaic (PV) solar panel works

    It All Starts with the Solar Cell

    Think of the solar cell as the building block of a solar panel. It takes thousands of solar cells working in unison to be able to produce a substantial amount of electricity. The components of each solar cell include:

    • An anti-reflective coating that lets in photons contained within sunlight
    • A glass barrier against the elements
    • A layer of silicon infused with phosphorus
    • A layer of silicon infused with boron

    The entire point of arranging these components is to produce a small amount of electrical charge. This happens when light strikes the solar cell and the electrons start flowing between the layers of silicon.

    This flow of electrons goes in only one direction—to the inverter. This kind of electron flow is referred to as ‘direct current’, or DC, as opposed to ‘alternating current’, or AC. The inversion of AC to DC is the inverter’s core responsibility. DC electricity is what the electrical system of most buildings and structures needs to function. 

    Efficiency Is the Name of the Game

    So, what sets one solar panel apart from another? What determines solar panel quality? As it turns out, efficiency is the biggest factor that puts the highest-performing solar panels above the rest. When a panel is able to convert more sunlight into electricity, that panel can be said to be more efficient. More efficient solar panels do cost more, because the materials required to build them are more expensive. 

    The inverters that are needed to convert AC to DC also have efficiently ratings. So, when you combine highly efficient solar panels with highly efficient electrical inverters, the result is a streamlined solar power system that is able to produce higher amounts of electricity for longer periods of time. 

    Solar power has truly revolutionized how the world consumes energy. And, now you know more about how it all works! Why not investigate how solar power could enhance your life? You could save on your energy bills while also doing something to help our environment.

    Go solar!