Our sun does more than just warm us up and brighten our days—it is also a natural reactor that releases energy called photons, which can be captured by solar panels and converted into electricity to power your home or business. In fact, these photons travel 93 million miles from the sun to the earth in approximately 8.5 minutes, meaning that, in theory, there are enough photons produced every hour to fulfill our global energy needs for a full year! At Raynor Services, we know the ins and outs of this clean and renewable energy—from permits to installation—but we also know that this novelty service leaves room for plenty of questions.
How Solar Panels Work
When the photons released by the sun come in contact with a solar cell, the electrons in their atoms become loose. If a solar cell has conductors attached to both its positive and negative sides, an electrical circuit is formed; when the photons’ electrons flow through this circuit, electricity is able to be generated. Because solar panels are equipped with several of these cells, several panels (modules) can be joined together to create a solar array. The amount of solar panels you install will determine the amount of energy you can generate.
Why Solar Panels Work
Solar panels consist of solar cells; solar cells consist of silicon, just like semiconductors. Similar to a battery, solar panels have one positive layer and one negative layer—these two layers work together to create direct electricity (DC [electrons that flow in one direction]). However, because the U.S. uses alternating electricity (AC [electrons that are pushed, pulled and flow in multiple directions]), solar panels must also be installed with an inverter. Here’s how that works:
- Sunlight hits a solar panel
- The solar panel converts sunlight into a DC current
- DC current flows into the inverter
- The inverter converts the DC current into an AC current
- AC current powers your home or business with clean energy