Solar panels installed around the world can now generate 178 GW of electricity each year. That means the sun can supply 1% of the world’s electrical needs. This energy from solar rays comes with many benefits. For example, solar energy is renewable because the sun will last for more than 5 billion years. It is also a silent means of producing electricity unlike wind energy, which produces a lot of noise for communities living next to wind turbines.
Moreover, solar power does not lead to the emission of greenhouse gasses unlike fossil fuels used to generate electricity. Unfortunately, many people do not know how this source of electricity works. Here are the answers to the question, how does solar energy work?
The Solar Panels
The most visible part of this entire system is the solar panels. They are responsible for the absorption of light from the sun and they use it as a means of generating electricity. They can also use it for heating your home. Each solar panel has a given number of photovoltaic cells that perform this function of converting sunlight into a direct electrical current. This process of conversion is both a chemical and physical phenomenon. Photovoltaic cells work during the day only when the sun is shining on them. However, the direction they are facing and obstacles between them and the sun determine their effectiveness.
As mention earlier, photovoltaic cells convert energy from the sun into direct electrical current popularly referred to as DC power. However, most household appliances use AC electricity because the national grid uses this form of electricity to supply power to homes across the country. Therefore, you cannot use the DC electricity generated from the sun as it is. Instead, you have to convert it into AC electricity for you to use it on your TV, radio, microwave, and fridge among other electrical devices in your home. The inverter, found in your solar power system, does this job for you. More specifically, it converts DC power generated from the sun into AC electricity.
The Electrical Panel
Another name for this panel is the breaker box. Others call it a circuit breaker. It is critical when it comes to the safe use of solar energy in your home. Fires, overheating, or explosions can occur because of a short circuit in your solar power system. These short circuits mostly happen when the system starts overloading or if an adjacent fire affects it. The function of the electrical panel is to detect a fault in the system. Then it stops the electrical flow within that system to prevent fires, overheating, or explosions. Using a fuse instead of a circuit breaker is possible, but fuses rarely work as effectively as circuit breakers do.
The Utility Meter
You would never know how much electricity you use unless you have a utility meter. Remember, solar power systems may produce much more electricity than you need. You can sell this excess power to the electrical company by placing it in the electrical grid. A utility meter tells you how much power you put into the grid. Sometimes, you may draw power from the local grid. The utility meter would tell you much power you took from the grid. It also shows you the net amount you took from the grid. If that amount is negative, then you owe the local power company some money. If it is not negative, then the company owes you some money or free electricity.