It all starts with the sun, a giant power source in space that makes life on our planet possible. The amount of energy the sun produces is easily enough to supply the world’s power needs many times over. Unlike traditional methods of producing usable energy, solar energy doesn’t produce harmful carbon dioxide emissions – great news for Earth’s future.
Normally, when the sun’s light shines upon an object the transferred energy is turned into heat. However, certain materials are able to turn this energy into usable electrical current. On an atomic level, when light strikes silicon crystal some of the electrons get bounced up to a higher energy level, where they move around more freely and can produce an electrical current. This chemical reaction is the magic that makes solar power possible.
Solar cells that convert the sun’s energy are called solar photovoltaics. Solar photovoltaics (PVs) are arrays of individual solar cells that convert sunlight into direct current electricity. They’re constructed from materials such as amorphous silicon, polycrystalline silicon, microcrystalline silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium selenide or sulfide.
Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources, the manufacture of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has advanced dramatically in recent years.
Arrays of solar cells called photovoltaics convert sunlight into direct current electricity throughout the day.
An inverter converts the direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, for your home energy usage.
The inverter sends this newly converted AC electricity to your electrical panel, which houses your circuit breakers.
A device called a utility meter measures your electricity consumption. If your system generates more power than you currently need the meter will actually move backwards.
At times when your home is not producing electricity via solar panel, like at night, you will draw power from the city grid. Your expense will be offset by the amount of excess energy you produce during daytime hours.
The end result of this entire process is, of course, to save you money! You will smile at your reduced electricity bill and also take pride in knowing that you are helping to save the Earth.