How Solar Energy Works Diagram

how solar energy works diagram

How does Solar Energy Work with Solar Panels

It takes sunlight 8 minutes and 20 seconds on average to travel the 93 million miles to earth before we can harvest it and transform it into electricity. So how do solar panels work? Solar panels are constructed of photovoltaic cells, made up of silicon which is a semi-conductor and the second most abundant component on earth.

These Photovoltaic cells are sandwiched, usually between two layers each layer having a different electronic property that react when photons contained in that sunlight as it traverses through our solar system hits them and generates an electrical field.

The top layer of photovoltaic cell contain unstable atoms that when hit by the photons in the sunlight produce electrons, these electrons when formed become unstable and are drawn down to the gaps left in the lower layer, thus creating an electrical current known as the photoelectric effect.

Solar panels produce a direct current (DC) and by connecting two metal contacts to the solar panel, one at the top and one at the bottom we can then transfer the direct current to  an inverter which then creates an alternating current (AC)

The alternating current (AC) is now passed to the electrical panel (or breaker box) for power needed at home or anywhere the solar panels are utilized or it can be stored in batteries. The surplus electricity can simply be sold back to the grid.

What is the Meaning of Photovoltaic?

 Photo – meaning light and Voltaic – meaning producing electricity by chemical action.

Why you should pay close attention to solar energy

In a world that’s starting to see the impact created by decades of abuse from fossil fuels, solar energy is starting to sound more appealing as we approach 2020. The environment has changed, the price of oil barrels is always on the rise, and we need to step back and ask ourselves: is it really worth it?

That’s what we’re here to show you today. Solar energy is on the rise, and while it might not seem like a popular option, you’ll want to at least learn about it. Then maybe, once you see the impact, you can make an informed decision about turning to solar energy.

How do solar panels work?

If you’re not sure about solar energy, because you’re a bit confused by how it works, then you can rest easy knowing that you’re in the right place. We’ll be showing you in detail how:

  • How Solar energy works
  • How solar panels work
  • solar energy benefits
  • How solar power stores energy
  • How solar power can heat water
  • And even how solar energy works when it’s dark outside

So whether you’re looking into how solar panels work, or just curious about solar energy benefits, you’ll be leaving here with all of the tools you need to make an informed decision about solar energy.

Therefore, without wasting anymore of your precious time, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about solar energy.

What are the benefits of solar energy?

Before we get into the meat and potatoes, it’s important that you understand the importance of solar energy. It’s one thing to rant on about how it works, why panels are good, and how the environment reacts, but chances are you won’t pay close attention unless you know the why behind solar energy.

Solar energy will decrease your electricity bill

One of the main reasons solar energy can be beneficial for you, is due to the fact that it will reduce your electricity bill in the long run. Sure, you’ll have to pay up front costs, but once it’s all said and done you’ll be in the clear. Plus, once you’ve had your panels up for long enough, you’ll actually have the electric company paying you for electricity. Not a bad tradeoff right?

It’s a truly renewable source of energy

Unlike fossil fuels, natural gas, and other types of energy, solar energy is completely renewable. As long as there is a sun in our solar system, you can harness the power from it. This is appealing, because you’ll never have to worry about running out of energy God forbid something happens down the line. Also, as we mentioned before, you won’t even have to pay for it down the line.

Low maintenance

When it comes to solar energy, you’ll be pleased to hear that not much maintenance goes into it. Once you have solar power up and running, you’ll have a hard time stopping it. Sure, the upfront cost may be high, but you don’t need to worry about spending too much more after that. Well, unless you want more of course.

This is due to the fact that solar panels work pretty well, due to the materials used, and you won’t really need to replace them down the line. Sure, at the end of the day technology will keep advancing, but the way solar panels work now more than substantial.

The ability to apply it to virtually anything

Another beautiful thing about solar energy is that you can connect it to anything. Cars can use solar power, homes can use solar power, and even some highway lights use solar power. There are plenty of applications that can be used with solar energy, and the options are limitless.

Even in areas that aren’t connected to solar grids can now have power, and solar energy can even bring distilled water to the homes of people not already exposed to it.

At the end of the day, solar based energy can quite literally save lives. It can run homes, vehicles, and almost anything you else you can imagine. Sure, it will take time, but solar energy benefits are already being felt around the world.

The technology is always improving

Since solar energy is relatively new, the technology is going to get even better. This means that while you might not like how efficient they are today, you might be shocked by their efficiency tomorrow. Therefore, you’ll always want to keep your solar knowledge up to date.

Plus, believe it or not, as time goes on the prices will come down. When solar panels first came into existence, it was extremely expensive to have them, but even today we’ve noticed an acute drop in price.

So while you might not be too excited about the price today, as technology improves, you might be able to go solar in a much cheaper way. Also, solar is only getting stronger. Within the next decade, you can start to expect double the power from the same sized objects.

Hurricane? No problem

The last thing to mention about solar energy is durability. Unlike flimsy power lines, solar panels are able to handle anything thrown at them. If you’re worried about damage, you’ll also be pleased to hear that most panels are made with durable materials designed to withstand impacts. Next time a storm blows your way, do you really want to lose power for 7 days?

With solar generators, homes, and off the grid power, it’s becoming easier to always have electricity when you need it.

Please keep in mind that these are just a small number of benefits that come along with solar energy. At the end of the day, the list really goes on.

How is solar energy stored?

Solar energy seems pretty simple right? You throw a panel somewhere, and boom, you have electricity. Well, while that’s definitely sort of how it works, there is something going on beneath the surface.

Have you ever noticed that solar powered technology still works at night? Therefore, if solar panels did not store solar energy, this would not be the case. So if you’re ready for a quick science lesson about the storage of solar energy, put that thinking cap on.

It can be stored in the grid

One of the reasons that power companies will one day pay you for your solar energy, is due to the fact that the power grid can actually be used to store your solar energy.

The grid connects everything, and transmits power through it. Therefore, when you’re out of storage space, sometimes that solar energy can be stored within the grid. We’ll dive more into the details of how solar energy works in the grid in the following section.

External batteries

Depending on your storage capabilities, solar energy can be stored in batteries. This is due to the fact that the energy stored in panels needs some place to go. This is where batteries come in, and the energy produced from a panel can be transferred to the battery in this case. The batteries will hold the energy, and release it when needed.

For heating purposes

Solar energy can also be stored in the way of thermal energy. This type of energy is used to heat water, keep your home warm, and various other applications. This works by the energy being transferred into water tanks, thermal mass, or even pool water.

So when you think about solar energy storage, think of it as a transfer of energy. The solar panel will take the energy, and transfer it to another source for storage.

How does grid connection work with solar panels?

The next thing you’ll want to know is how grid connection works. While solar power is pretty great in this day an age, changes are you won’t be running your whole home from it at first. Plus, believe it or not, electric companies will actually compensate you for energy you provide to the grid with solar power.

The connection between the grid and your solar panels

Solar panels will provide you with plenty of daytime energy, but if you remain connected to the power grid, you might not see a decrease in your electricity bill right away.

Now if you’re scratching your head, don’t worry, because there is a reason for this. Just because you have solar energy coming in during the day, that doesn’t mean you won’t need to be supplemented at night.

This is even more true if you have no storage batteries, because you’ll be entirely reliant on the grid for storage and nightly energy purposes. The way this works is simple, the energy produced by solar cells will be turned into 240 AC electricity (the power your home normally uses), and then if you’re connected to the grid your energy will be stored in the grid.

Also, once you have enough energy stored, you’ll start to pay less on your electricity bill. Please keep in mind that this process will take time, so if you don’t notice an immediate decrease, try and be a bit patient with it.

Why do electricity companies send money your way when you go solar?

Now we’ve briefly touched upon how solar energy can net you some profit, but how does this work in the grid? The reason electricity companies enjoy this is due to the fact that they can use and divert your energy elsewhere in the grid when it’s stored.

Sure, it might seem like stealing, but this will definitely help both you and the community.

Solar power benefits don’t just stop with the environment or your home, but they can also benefit the power grid overall.

How do solar panels work at night?

When it comes to solar panels, not a lot of people know what they do at night. Solar panels are designed to use energy from the sun, so most of the time, we only focus on solar panels during the day.

So if you’ve ever wondered what was going on at night, please pay close attention, because you’re about to find out.

Remember when we showed you how solar energy is stored? That’s how solar panels work at night. When night is upon us, instead of doing nothing, solar panels try to maximize the amount of energy received during the daytime.

This is done by transferring that energy into storage units like batteries, and this is how solar power provides power even during the night. This is effective, because you’ll also lose less solar energy when it’s done this way.

How does solar energy affect the environment?

The last thing you’ll want to know is how solar energy affects the environment. Not only does solar energy make your wallet happy, but it will also make the planet happy as well.

So if you’ve ever wondered what the actual impact solar has on the environment is, you’ll want to pay close attention to this section. Also, before you keep reading, make sure you understand that there are still some other implications that come along with it.

The good

In many cases solar energy can actually be quite good for the environment, because it can be used to replace other energy sources. This is a great thing, because increased solar production can lead to a reduction in carbon emissions let out by fossil fuels. When you replace this pollution, you start to see how solar energy can be better for the Earth overall.

The bad

While solar energy definitely can have a positive impact on the planet, there is a bit of a catch. In order to store energy harnessed by the sun, photovoltaic cells need to be produced.

These cells are what make solar energy work, but they come at a cost to the environment. This is due to the fact that in some cases toxic materials are utilized when these cells are made.

So while solar energy can reduce carbon emissions produced by fossil fuels, the toxic materials used to create photovoltaic cells can be quite the tradeoff.


Now we threw a lot at you, and solar energy can be a lot to take in. Luckily, you can always do some more research on your own, or even refer to this brief article as a guideline.

Solar energy is something that is only going to get more popular as we approach 2021, and you definitely don’t want to miss the boat. Read my article Updated Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages for more information.

Not only does solar energy help out your electric bill, but it also leaves an impact on the environment. The Earth is our home, and we haven’t been very kind to it these past few years, so think about solar energy as a way to repay the favor.

Are solar panels and solar power the future?

There is so much more to show you, but solar energy is definitely the future. As more auto manufacturers turn to electric cars, and as more oil reserves become depleted, our options in the future might become limited. When it comes to solar, with the prices where they are today, you’ll definitely want to get in on the ground floor.

Solar energy is pretty easy to understand once you break it down, and once you see the impact it can have on both you and the environment, you’ll definitely want to get involved.

Now that you know the facts… what will you do with solar energy?

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In this comprehensive article we look at how solar energy works with solar panels, how solar energy is stored and its effect on the environment. #solarenergy #solarpower