Solar energy is one of the most abundant resources on earth. It radiant heat and light obtained from the sun. Solar energy is harnessed using a wide range of technologies such as photovoltaics, solar heating, solar architecture, artificial photosynthesis and solar thermal energy. Unlike electricity, solar energy is a renewable energy source that leaves zero carbon footprint.
The technologies that capture the sun’s energy are characterized as either active solar or passive solar, to differentiate the way they capture and allocate solar energy and transform into usable power. Solar water heating, concentrated solar power and photovoltaic systems are clubbed under active solar techniques. Passive solar involves adopting methods such as orienting a home towards the sun, selecting materials that have light-dispersing properties and favourable thermal mass and designing homes that circulate air more naturally.
So how do solar panels generate electricity?
1) Solar panels are those large black, shiny square and rectangles that are affixed in panels on top of roofs. Panels are comprised of photovoltaic (PV) cells. Within each cell are semiconductors. In the day time, these solar cells absorb as many sunlight particles as they can and alter it to direct current or DC electricity.
2) This DC current travels down to an inverter where it is changed into alternating current or AC electricity. This is the form of electricity that powers your home and all its appliances. The inverter is often installed in the garage or on an exterior wall.
3) AC electricity is transported from the inverter into an electrical panel or breaker box. From here it enters into your home to power the appliances and lights.
4) The amount of solar power you use is gauged by a utility meter. If your solar system generates more power than what is required, your utility meter will spin backwards. Surplus energy is fed back into the utility company’s power grid. They will award you with credits for your contribution to the energy supply.
Keep in mind that even when you switch to solar energy, you will always be connected to a power grid. This is because you will require their energy supply during the night. However those credits you earned for supplying them with surplus energy will offset the cost of the power you may use during the night time.
Switching to solar power is a win-win situation for both the homeowner and Mother Energy. To learn more about how solar power is generated and how you can benefit from this conversion, get in touch with Ohsolarmio!