Harnessing the sun’s energy to power homes is a cost-effective option for homeowners. But how does it work?
Solar energy can be used to perform a variety of tasks for your home or office space, from providing electricity for lights and appliances, to warming a room or even a pool. While you may see solar panels becoming mainstream, you may be wondering how it is they work and how they can benefit you and your utility bill. Let’s break down the basics.
What do solar panels do?
Simply put, solar panels capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity, which is used to power lights and appliances in a home or business.
How do solar panels work, exactly?
In an electric system, photovoltaic cells in a solar panel convert the radiant energy from the sun into an electric current. Word trivia: means “light” and voltaic means “electricity,” hence “photovoltaic.”
The brains behind a solar panel are known as an inverter. Its main job is to convert DC power produced by the solar array into usable AC power. The AC electricity then runs into an electric panel in order to directly power the things we use that rely on electricity.
How am I paying for this power?
Here is one of the biggest benefits to having solar panels: the financial perks!
If your home is using more energy than your solar power system is producing, you will pull energy from the utility grid, meaning you will always have energy. Extra energy generated during the day flows back into the grid and is used elsewhere through a process called net metering. In this instance, the homeowner receives credit for what is produced, thereby lowering the electric bill.
Selling clean electricity back to the grid is a benefit of a home solar array, but using the solar electricity right in your own home is a much more direct connection, with virtually zero energy transportation.
We know that installing solar will reduce your environmental footprint substantially, while reducing your financial exposure to rising energy prices. These are both great reasons to install a solar array on your roof, or in your backyard. But the bottom line for most of us is simply: is it a good financial investment? Purchasing solar panels is first and foremost a financial move. Just like stocks and bonds, investing money in solar gets you a significant financial return.
The solar industry is growing worldwide at a rapid pace. From rooftop solar to large, utility-owned solar farms, solar will be powering the economy of the future.