How Does Solar Power Work: Solar Power for Beginners

From wind energy to hydroelectricity, people are constantly seeking out alternative sources of power, fuel, and electricity. Limiting carbon emission and using natural resources has become a major goal for the innovators of today. 

In 1839, solar power technology was discovered by French physicist Edmond Becquerel. His scientific experimentation led him to uncover the photovoltaic effect that explained how particles of light could generate a flow of electricity. 

However, it wasn’t until 1982 that the world saw a mass production of solar panels used to collect solar power. Solar power is a form of renewable energy used to naturally power homes and building. Many American households and buildings are making the switch to solar power energy. 

Purchasing solar power can seem like a large commitment without the proper knowledge. In talking with our prior customers, we have identified some of the most common questions when exploring the option of solar power. These questions will help us understand the basics of solar power.

Common Questions about Solar Power

  • How does solar power work? 
  • How do solar panels work within a solar power system? 
  • How many solar panels do I need? 
  • How long do solar panels last? 
  • Are solar panels worth it? 

How do Solar Panels Work?

Solar power works by converting light from solar energy into electric energy used to power various devices such as gaming consoles, refrigerators, computers, and televisions in a household.

Using the photovoltaic effect, particles of light, known as photons, interact with the solar panels to generate a flow of electricity by freeing electrons from the materials atoms. 

How do Solar Panels Work within a Solar Power System?

A solar power system is made up of four major components: solar panels, racking, inverters, and batteries (or another device to store the energy you generate). Solar panels are the main element in collecting photons and converting them into energy that can be used in the home. 

Solar Panels

Solar panels are made of a tempered glass, non reflective outside layer meant to provide environmental protection. The top of the solar panel has a conductive electrode that typically acts as the cathode (negative electrode). This is followed by a nice thick layer of either n-type or p-type semiconductors. 

N-type solar panels: Have more free electrons than atoms

P-type solar panels: Have less free electrons

The top layer is followed by the depletion zone and then the opposite type material is on the other side of this zone.

The bottom layer of the solar panel is the opposite electrode – anode (positive electrode). Sunlight has photons in it that are energized, this energy is imparted to these photons from the chemical reactions that are happening in the sun!

This energy from the photons is then transferred to the semiconductor materials in the solar cells creating a steady flow of electrons. This flow of electrons is then harnessed by the inverter creating AC electricity that can be used to power your home or business!

Inverters 

The solar inverter is a device that converts DC power generated by the solar panels into AC power that is used by homes and businesses. A series of panels will be wired to the inverter to convert the incoming solar energy into usable energy. 

The inverter will usually be located in a safe place and easily accessible for maintenance. This may include locations such as on the side of your house, in a garage, or in your basement. 

Energy Storage 

solar battery is an energy storage device installed to take the extra power produced by most solar PV systems during the day and store it for use either at night OR in an outage situation. Most residential battery solutions available right now have a storage capacity of around 9.8 kWh. Depending on the critical loads connected, these can last anywhere from a day to a couple of days if it is sunny outside and recharging can happen. Multiple batteries can also be added to increase the desired battery life and provide longer backup times.

Racking & Rails

Solar panels need a sturdy foundation for mounting. Whether it be a roof, or ground, secure racking is important to keep your solar panels in place during any kind of weather unpredictability. 

Rails get installed on top of the mounting feet to provide a stable and solid base upon which solar panels are installed. 8MSolar uses IronRidge XR rails to provide a stable and robust platform to secure your system to your roof.

How Many Solar Panels do I Need? 

The design and technology of solar panels has been improved upon for years to bring you a long lasting energy generator. Solar panels have a high guaranteed output for the first 25 years of their life. In fact, some solar panels last 40 years after installation with an operating output of around 80%. 

How Long Do Solar Panels Last? 

The design and technology of solar panels has been improved upon for years to bring you a long lasting energy generator. Solar panels have a high guaranteed output for the first 25 years of their life. In fact, some solar panels last 40 years after installation with an operating output of around 80%. 

Our solar panels come with a 25 year 80% guaranteed power output warranty. This is the best warranty currently offered on solar energy production systems. 

Are Solar Panels Worth it?

The bottom line happens to be “is solar worth it?” The short answer is yes. Solar panels help you save money and utilize an efficient renewable energy resource. Even during the winter months or raining days, solar panels will continue to produce energy because AC power is created from light, not heat. 

Despite high up-front costs , we believe everyone saves by switching to solar power. The amount saved will depend on the size of the system you install. Our records show that the average household can save around $1800 per year when they make the switch. You’ll see your solar panels begin to pay for themselves within 6-8 years. 

If you live in the North Carolina area, find out how 8MSolar can assist you in bringing renewable energy to your home or office. The ample sunlight and lowered cost of solar panels are just a few of the benefits of solar panels in North Carolina . 

We are ready to help you make the transition, get a free quote today! 

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