Of all the renewable energy sources available to us, solar is the most abundant and the most renewable.
As technology develops ever more efficient and affordable solutions, solar energy for residential use
has become increasingly common. It is no longer unusual to see a solar array on the rooftop of a home or
in a backyard.
But how do those solar arrays work?
A solar panel converts the energy from sunlight into electricity via photovoltaic technology.
Every solar panel is made up of silicon crystals whose cells are bound together by electrons. As sunlight hits the crystals, the electrons become excited and move more freely. As they do so, they create a direct current (DC) of electricity.
Most homes use alternating current (AC) electricity. So the DC in the solar panel is fed through wires from the panel to an inverter where it is converted to AC. From there it can be fed either directly to the appliances within the home; to a storage battery for later use; or into the grid.
Residential solar energy systems can be either independent or connected to the grid. In an independent system the energy is used within the home and any excess is stored in a battery so that it can be used at times when insufficient energy is being generated—for example at night.
A system that is connected to the grid will use its own energy but sell any excess to the grid. At times when insufficient energy is being generated—for example at night or during a particularly cloudy day—energy can be drawn back from the grid.
Whichever system is used, once it is installed and paid for the electricity it generates is environmentally friendly, clean, renewable, and free to the homeowner.