solar energy and solar panel

What is Solar Energy? How Does It Work? A 2022 Guide

Solar energy is the most abundant energy source on the planet. At any given time, over 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strike the Earth, which is more than 10,000 times the world’s entire energy needs.

Solar energy is a significant answer for tackling the present climate problem and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by absorbing the sun’s energy and converting it into electricity for your home or company.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

Our sun functions as a natural nuclear reactor. It emits photons, which are tiny packets of energy that travel the 93 million miles from the sun to Earth in about 8.5 minutes. Every hour, enough photons collide with our planet to generate enough solar energy to meet the world’s energy needs for an entire year.

Currently, photovoltaic power accounts for only 5% of total energy consumption in the United States. However, as solar technology advances and the cost of going solar falls rapidly, our ability to harness the sun’s abundant energy grows.

The International Energy Agency reported in 2017 that solar energy had surpassed all other fuels as the world’s fastest-growing source of power, marking the first time that solar energy’s growth had surpassed that of all other fuels. Since then, solar has continued to expand and break records all over the world.

How Does Weather Effect Solar Energy?

The quantity of power produced by a solar system is affected by weather conditions, but not in the way you may imagine.

Of course, the ideal circumstances for creating solar energy involve a bright sunny day. Solar panels, like most electronics, are more efficient in cold weather than in hot weather. The panel may produce more power in the same period of time as a result of this. The panel creates less voltage and produces less power as the temperature rises.

Solar panels are more efficient in cold weather, but they don’t always produce more power in the winter than they do in the summer. During the summer, the weather is usually brighter. Aside from less clouds, the sun is generally out for a longer period of time. So, even if your panels are less efficient in hot weather, they will almost certainly produce more power in the summer than in the winter.

What Are Solar Panels Made Of and How Do They Generate Electricity?

Photovoltaic (PV) technology panels are made up of several solar cells. Solar cells, like semiconductors, are constructed of silicon. They’re made up of a positive and negative layer that work together to form an electric field, exactly like a battery.

Direct current (DC) power is generated by PV solar panels. Electrons move in one way around a circuit with DC power. A light bulb is powered by a battery in this scenario. The electrons travel from the negative side of the battery to the positive side after passing through the light.

Electrons are pushed and pulled in AC (alternating current) electricity, reversing direction frequently, much like a cylinder in a vehicle engine. When a coil of wire is spun near to a magnet, a generator produces AC power. This generator may be powered by a variety of energy sources, including gas or diesel fuel, hydroelectricity, nuclear, coal, wind, or solar energy.

The country’s electrical power infrastructure uses AC electricity because it is less expensive to transfer across large distances. Solar panels, on the other hand, generate DC power. What is the best way to get DC power into the AC grid? An inverter is used.

What Does a Solar Inverter Do?

The DC electricity from the solar array is converted to AC electricity using a solar inverter. The brains of the system are inverters. They also give ground fault prevention and system metrics, such as voltage and current on AC and DC circuits, energy output, and maximum power point tracking, in addition to inverting DC to AC power.

Since the outset, central inverters have dominated the solar business. One of the most significant technological shifts in the PV sector has been the introduction of micro-inverters. Micro-inverters, unlike central inverters, optimize for each individual solar panel rather than the complete solar system.

This allows each solar panel to reach its full potential. When using a central inverter, an issue with one solar panel (maybe it’s in the shade or has become dusty) can affect the entire solar array’s performance.

How Does a Solar Panel System Work?

Here’s an illustration of how a solar energy system in a home works. First, sunlight strikes a solar panel mounted on the roof. The panels convert the energy into direct current, which is then sent to an inverter. The inverter converts the electricity from direct current to alternating current, which you can then utilize to power your home. It’s elegantly simple and clean, and it’s becoming more efficient and cost-effective all the time.

What happens, though, if you are not at home to use the electricity generated by your solar panels every sunny day? What happens at night when your solar system isn’t producing power in real time? Don’t worry, you may still be able to benefit from a scheme known as “net metering.”

During peak daylight hours, a typical grid-connected PV system usually produces more energy than one client need, therefore the extra energy is released back into the grid for use elsewhere. Net metering customers may obtain credits for surplus energy generated and utilize those credits to draw from the grid at night or on overcast days. A net meter compares the amount of energy provided to the amount of energy received from the grid.

Read about net metering and how it works in this article.

Adding storage to a solar system boosts those benefits even further. Customers may store their own energy on-site with a solar storage system, minimizing their dependency on grid electricity and retaining the capacity to power their house in the case of a power outage.

If the storage system includes software monitoring, the programme analyses solar production, residential energy usage, and utility rates to select which power source to utilize during the day, maximizing solar use, reducing peak-time charges, and storing electricity for later use during an outage.

Schedule a time for us to develop a personalized design and possible savings quote for your house or company if you’d like to discover how much money you could save.

what is net metering

What is Net Metering? How Does it Work? A 2022 Guide

Many people considering adopting solar have heard the term “net metering” but have no idea what it implies.

What is Net Metering?

Simply put, net metering is a utility billing mechanism that provides a credit to household and business customers that generate extra electricity with their solar panel systems and transmit it back to the grid.

How Does Net Metering Work?

During daylight hours, a rooftop solar system can typically generate more electricity than you consume.

With net metering, the homeowner is only charged for the “net” energy spent each month, which is the difference between the energy produced by the solar power system and the energy consumed by the house during the billing period.

When your home or company is net-metered, the meter will run backwards, which means you may receive a credit to offset the electricity you consume from the grid when it’s not sunny or at night, depending on local rules. After that, you’ll only be charged for your “net” energy usage. The extra energy created is fed back into the grid, where it can be used by your neighbors.

Benefits of Net Metering

Net metering can save homeowners hundreds of dollars on their power bills each year, so it’s a strong reason to go solar sooner rather than later.

There’s another advantage to using net metering. Because your solar system generates electricity close to where it will be utilized, it puts less burden on the grid’s distribution and transmission infrastructure and lowers energy loss from transporting voltage many miles from the nearest power plant. While some argue that net metering places an unfair burden on non-solar electricity customers, several cost-benefit studies on net metering have found the contrary to be true.

So, to take advantage of current favorable net metering policies, don’t delay going solar.