We’ve all heard the term ‘solar energy’, and we know it’s to do with sunlight and how the sun’s power can give us electricity, but not a lot of us know exactly how this works. If you’re thinking about getting solar panels or incorporating solar energy into your home, then you’ll need to know all about it first, before you make your decision.
So, what exactly is solar energy, and how does it get converted into electricity and energy in our homes? Let’s find out.
What's In This Article
What Is Solar Energy?
Solar energy, or solar radiation is the energy that is emitted by the sun. Solar energy is basically the radiation that comes from the sun, and it is capable of not only generating electricity to give us power, but it can also produce heat and chemical reactions.
To harness this energy for the purpose of power, we can use photovoltaic cells, which can convert sunlight into electricity, or we can use solar thermal power technologies to consume the sun’s energy.
Solar energy and solar radiation is therefore just light, that is also referred to as electromagnetic radiation, which comes from the Sun. With solar technologies, we are able to capture this radiation and turn it into other forms of energy that we can use. So, how does this work?
How is Solar Energy Converted Into Electricity?
There are actually two types of solar energy technologies, photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar thermal power (CSP). The most common form of solar energy technology is photovoltaic, which is most often used in solar panels.
These solar panels work when light from the sun shines onto them, the energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the panels, through the photovoltaic cells inside of the solar panel. With this energy harnessed, electrical charges are formed, which move inside of the electrical field in the cell, creating electricity.
In comparison, concentrating solar thermal power technologies utilize mirrors rather than panels in order to reflect and concentrate the sunlight onto various different receivers that then work to collect and store the solar energy, converting it into heat which can be used to create electricity or kept for later consumption.
Solar energy can be collected and converted into electricity either by solar panels on people’s homes, or by large solar farms that stretch over wide spaces in order to harness the most energy. One of the main ways that you can alter your home for more renewable energy is by installing solar panels.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels can look very hi-tech and confusing from afar. If you’ve ever walked down the street and seen your neighbors homes are fitted with these panels, then you may be wondering exactly how do solar panels work or produce electricity to power a home. However, it is actually rather simple.
The first step is for the sunlight to hit the panels, and activate them. Each solar panel has a layer of silicon cells, metal frames and glass casing with special wiring and a film over the top.
These panels are then fitted to the rooftops of your home in order to collect the maximum amount of light. During the daylight hours, these solar panels will work to absorb the light.
Inside of the solar panels are solar cells, which when one is positively charged and one is negatively charged, will produce an electric field. When the sun’s light energy strikes this solar cell, the cell is activated and the electrons create an electrical current.
However, the electric energy produced is not the same as the one that powers your home, and so this has to be converted by a solar inverter. Finally, the solar inverter converts the energy so that it is able to generate power and electricity that you need for your home.
This photovoltaic technology is able to capture the sun’s power, in order to operate your home in a more efficient and renewable way.
To summarize, if you’re thinking of utilizing solar technology in your home, then you should know how it works and how exactly things such as solar panels can provide electricity and power with just the light of the sun.
With our guide, you should have a clearer understanding of how electricity is gained from solar energy, and can make an informed decision about whether using solar power is best for your home.