Your understanding of solar energy so far is most likely pretty high-level, unless you’ve done some serious ‘Googling’.
You probably have heard the typical marketing taglines — it’s good for the environment because it reduces our carbon footprint, it lowers your electric bill because the price per watt is competitive with your current utility rate, and you’ll know what you’re paying for the next 20-25 years.
What about the science behind how it actually works? How are the sun’s rays converted into useable electricity? We’re here to save that step of research.
The history of photovoltaic energy (solar energy) actually dates back to the late 1800s, and first became available commercially in 1956 after the discovery of a silicon solar cell in 1953, but it was very expensive. Since then, year over year, scientists have researched diligently on how to lower the cost.
Today, in 2017, solar has been widely reported as now being one of the cheapest forms of electricity worldwide.
So back to how it works. After extensive research and testing by engineers over time, the energy is now harnessed through solar power — when the sunlight hits the panel, it converts into Direct Current (DC)electricity and sent to a power inverter. The power inverter then converts the DC into Alternating Current (AC), and used by the homeowner. Any excess power is pumped back into the grid, and then net metering also you to build a bank of credits with your utility company for any over production.
For a more in-depth explanation of the steps, hover over this helpful graphic and view each step.
- Sunlight hits the high capacity solar panels and converts the sun's energy into Direct Current (DC) electricity which is sent to an inverter. PCS uses a more efficient solar panel technology.
- When the solar panels produce more electricity than is needed during peak sun hours, excess electricity is automatically sent to the grid (utility company) and the electric meter actually spins backwards, building a bank of credits at the utility company.