How do Solar Panels Work?

Solar Panels take the energy of the sun and convert it into a useable form of electricity that can power everything in your home from dishwashers to smartphones.

The Power of the Sun

Every single day the sun radiates the earth with over 4 quadrillion kilowatt-hours of energy. Some of it is photosynthesized by plants and converted into chemical energy. Some is absorbed by the earth’s surface and oceans. But most of it is reflected and radiated back out into space.

Solar panels work by capturing a small fraction of the sun’s immense power and converting it into useable energy. There is more than enough solar energy to power the entire earth; it’s just a matter of harnessing it. When properly sealed and insulated, just a few solar panels on your roof are enough to power your entire home all year long.

The Science of Solar

So how, exactly, do solar panels work? Solar panels utilize photovoltaic cells to convert photons (sunlight) into electricity at an atomic level. When the sun strikes these cells, a special semiconductor absorbs the photons and releases electrons, creating direct current (DC) electricity.

This current then enters a device located beneath each solar panel called an inverter, which converts it into an alternating current (AC), or useable electricity. Most solar companies use a string inverter which uses a line circuit.

How Solar Panels Work

  1. Sunlight strikes the solar panels creating a DC current
  2. An inverter converts the DC current into AC electricity
  3. Unused AC power is sent back onto the power grid, making your energy meter run backwards
  4. Usable AC electricity is distributed throughout your home, powering your devices
  5. At night, stored electricity is returned from the power grid to your home

The electricity produced by your solar panels then runs through your energy meter. Some of the useable power will flow into your home and be consumed by your appliances and devices, but a lot of it will go unused and flow back through your meter and onto the power grid, especially during the sunniest hours of the day.

This power acts as a stockpile, causing your power meter to run backwards and storing up energy for the night. This stored energy is credited to your home for one calendar year, so you can even store up electricity for the winter!

Zero makes Solar work for you!

At Zero Energy Contracting, we care about conserving as much energy as possible. That’s why we perform a comprehensive Home Energy Audit to determine just where your home is losing energy and help your Solar Panels work at maximum efficiency.

Our FREE Home Energy Audit measures 250 points of data to find where your home is most inefficient, whether it’s a poorly insulated roof, leaky ductwork, or low-efficiency lighting. We then suggest services that will increase your home’s efficiency.

We will also perform an assessment for Energy Upgrade California and detail exactly what government rebates and tax credits your home qualifies for.

Together we can help you save money by building a safer, more comfortable home for a greener, more sustainable world.