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How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

5th August 2021  

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells which convert solar energy into electricity. Semi-conducting materials such as silicon are used to sandwich these photovoltaic cells. Each one of these layers has different electronic properties to generate an electric field when hit by photons. (Photons are small energy packets that are emitted by the sunlight).

This process of solar panel electricity generation is called the photoelectric effect, which is used to generate electricity from the solar panel system. However, an inverter to be used to convert the direct current developed by the solar panels to be converted into alternating current. Homes or businesses can then use this current that the panels are attached to or simply funneled into the national grid.

Solar panel electricity generation

We know that photovoltaic solar panels generate direct current electricity. In the direct current type, the electrons flow in one single direction around the circuit. For example, let us consider a light bulb. To power the bulb, the electrons flow from the negative side of the battery to its positive side through the lamp.

Whereas with the alternating current type, electrons are pulled and pushed while reversing direction periodically. To understand this better, let us consider a car. The generator of the car creates AC electricity wherever a coil of wire is twisted next to a magnet. Different energy sources can turn the handle of a generator like gas, fuel, coal, wind, solar, nuclear, and hydroelectricity.

Alternating current is chosen for electrical power grids because it costs less to transmit this current over distances.

Further read: How Many Solar Panels Do You Need?

Does it need to be sunny for solar panels to work?

Solar panels produce more electricity during summers. This makes it seem like the efficiency of solar panels is high during hot days. Even though stronger sunlight and warm temperatures go hand in hand, this is not the case. If the temperature is too high, the efficiency of solar panels is reduced.

This is because, like any other electrical device, solar panels prefer cool weather to function efficiently. These panels react to the visible light of the spectrum. This means, if the light is enough to be seen by our eyes, it is enough for solar panel electricity generation. Therefore, solar panels do work on cloudy and rainy days too. However, stronger sunlight will result in maximum electricity generation.

Advantages and challenges of solar power

The solar panel systems provide us with constant energy when the sunlight is available without needing as much space as other renewable energy sources. They need little to no maintenance after installation and don't create any noise pollution while working. The safety risk of using these panels is zero because they are very safe.

However, the grid has to monitor the power generated and utilized carefully. As a result, the smaller renewable sites are the first to have power down if the supply outweighs demand as the grid is transporting power from fossil fuel-burning power plants. Additionally, the initial investments to install these solar panels systems are expensive, while you can't install a panel if you do not have access to direct sunlight on your roof.

How does a solar panel system work?

But have you ever thought about how solar panel systems work when you are not home to use the generated electricity during the day? Or what happens with the solar panel electricity generation during the nights. You will still benefit from these situations through the net metering system.

Any typical PV system that is tied to the grid generates large amounts of energy that is more than required by the customer on peak daylight hours. This excess energy is fed to the grid so that it can be used elsewhere. If you are eligible for net metering, then you can receive credit for the excess energy generated by your solar panel system. You can use this credit to draw electricity from the grid during the night or on cloudy days when the electricity produced by your panels is not enough.

Read about: Solar Panels for Your Home in 2021

Net metering

Net metering is a utility billing device that generates a credit for both residential and business customers who make excess electricity through their solar panel systems and feed it to the grid.

Rooftop solar systems often generate more than the required amounts of electricity. When you have net metering, you are only billed for the net energy usage every month. This means you are billed for the amount, which is the difference between the energy generated by your panels and the electricity consumed by your home over a month.

With net metering, you can save a lot of money every year on utility bills. This even reduces the strain on the grid because your solar panel generates the electricity in amounts that are consumed immediately. Reducing the need to send the extra electricity over long distances to power plants will minimize energy loss from the panels.

Storage systems

If you have a storage system, you can save the generated energy on-site. With this, you can reduce the dependence on the use of grid electricity. In case of power outages, you can simply use the electricity preserved in the storage systems.

These benefits are increased if the storage system includes software monitoring. With software monitoring, you can monitor solar production, check home energy usages along with utility rates and determine which power source to be used throughout the day. By this, you can maximize the use of solar energy by storing power to use during outages and reducing peak-time charges.

If you want to switch to solar panel systems and see how much you can save on your utility bills, Contact Waaree. Call us at 1800-2121-321 and get high-quality and cost-effective sustainable energy solutions.

You can also read: What do Solar Panels do at Night?

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