How Does Solar Energy Work

How Does It Work

You may have heard a lot about alternative forms of energy lately. One of the largest sources of manmade greenhouse gasses in many developed countries comes from traditional energy production. Meanwhile, alternative energy like solar energy is renewable, clean, and free. The sun might feel warm on your face, but just sticking your appliances out in the sun won’t make them work. You might wonder how it is possible to convert sunlight into electricity.

How Does Solar Energy Work in a Home?

How can we turn sunlight into electricity? Two things are needed. First, there has to be a way to capture the energy from the sun. Second, there needs to be a way to convert that energy into the type of electricity that can get used by lights, appliances, and electronic devices.

Solar Panels – Solar panels are made out of solar cells. More technically, these are called photovoltaic (PV) cells. There function is to capture sunlight and turn it into DC electric power.

Inverters – Having DC power is great, but most of your devices probably need AC (Alternating Current). An inverter is a device that can convert DC power into AC power.

Breaker Box – If you have a home solar energy system, the power gets sent to your breaker box, sometimes called an electric panel, to get distributed through your house.

Electric Meter – For most homes, the electric meter keeps rising as more power gets used. The great thing about having home solar power is that the meter actually goes backwards if your system generates excess power. You are sending power back to the grid, and this means you can reduce or eliminate your electric bill. In some cases, you might even generate enough power to get the power company to send you a check for a change.

Is This How Solar Energy Systems Always Work?

Actually, you can purchase very handy portable solar energy systems that you can take with you when you leave the grid. You can also use them to provide emergency power for your home or a health care facility. They come with solar panels and a builtin inverter that converts DC to AC power.

What Are Problems With the Way Solar Energy Works?

Solar energy is a wonderful resource, but technology hasn’t conquered every problem. With current technology, solar panels only really work well on sunny days. On cloudy days, panels may not capture enough energy to produce the electricity needed to power a home. That is why home solar power users usually sell excess energy back to the grid instead of trying to store it themselves. Still, solar power would work better if it were possible to store for the future.

The solution might be to use batteries to store power on cloudy days and produce excess power on sunny days. However, batteries are fairly expensive, so this solution is not practical for every use. Solar power technology seems to work better all the time as engineers and scientists find new answers. Hopefully, storage problems will also get overcome in the future.

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