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  • Tom Clarkson

How Do Solar Panels Work? Step by Step Guide

Updated: May 1

Have you been noticing solar panels showing up in more and more areas but find yourself wondering 'how exactly do these things work?' We'll take you through a simple, step-by-step breakdown of how solar panels work to generate electricity that can be used by homes and businesses.

Infographic: a step by step guide on how solar panels work

Stage 1: Sunlight activates the panels

The solar panels absorb the sun's energy.

Stage 2: The cells produce DC electricity

A standard solar panel consists of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing to protect the panel, and various wiring to allow current to flow from the silicon cells. Silicon is a non-metal with conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current. The electricity generated is called direct current (or DC) electricity.

Stage 3: The DC electricity is converted to AC

Unfortunately, most homes cannot be powered by DC electricity, however DC electricity can easily be changed into alternating current (or AC) electricity which is compatible with home appliances. This is done by an inverter.

Stage 4: A generation meter measures usage

A generation meter, normally fitted near your fuse board, is used to measure the energy produced by your solar panels.

Stage 5: The AC electricity powers your home

The converted AC electricity runs through your fuse board and is distributed to your home, powering appliances in the exact same way that electricity from the grid would. Thanks to this, you won't need to change any electrical items in your home.

You will remain connected to the grid, allowing you to automatically draw additional electricity from the grid should you ever need to.

Stage 6: Excess electricity is fed back to the grid

Any excess electricity produced from your solar panels that you don't use (or store in solar batteries) is fed back to the grid. You can even earn money from the electricity that you feed back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Find out more about how you can earn money from your solar panels with the Smart Export Guarantee here.

And that's it, simple as that!

Looking to install a solar PV system on your home or business premises? Contact our team today for expert advise and a free, no obligation quote and solar design.

01733 601698

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