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How Does Solar Power Work?

So, how do solar panels work? How does a solar PV system take sunlight and turn it into energy we can use for our homes or businesses in Canada?

How Does Solar Energy Work?

Harnessing the sun’s energy to power our daily energy needs is an idea that allows Canadians to save money, become energy-independent and help the environment, but how does solar energy work?

To better educate Canada about solar energy, as well as dispel common myths, we believe that understanding precisely how it works is key. 

Here’s a simplified yet comprehensive rundown on how we turn energy from the sun into energy for your home or business.

1. Photons Knock Out Electrons

Solar energy works on the principle of photovoltaic (PV) effect. Solar panels contain multiple PV cells, and each of these cells contains two layers of semiconductor material, usually silicon.

When the sun’s light hits these cells, it causes electrons to break off from their atoms.

2. Creating Direct Current (DC)

The now-free electrons move toward the bottom of the solar cell, leaving behind a positive charge at the top. This movement creates an electric field.

When other photons knock off additional electrons, these electrons then move down through the electric field, generating a current known as direct current (DC).

3. Low Maintenance Requirements

Solar power systems are known for their durability and low maintenance requirements. 

With no moving parts, most solar panels come with a 25 to 30year performance warranty, ensuring peace of mind for homeowners and businesses.

Solar panels sometimes need to be cleaned off of debris, but overall, the loss for coverage, such as dirt and snow can be minimal.

3. DC to Alternating Current (AC)

While we generate DC electricity from the sun, our homes and businesses run on AC power, or Alternating Current.

However, the electricity in our homes and businesses is alternating current (AC). To make this change, the DC from the solar panels goes through a device called an inverter, converting it into AC electricity that can be used in the household or sent back to the grid.

4. Utilizing the Power

The AC energy is then sent to your electrical panel board (also called a breaker box) to power your household electrical devices known as loads, such as lights, microwave and washing machine.

When more solar power is generated than the house can use, any excess generation is fed back to the grid where your electrical retailer will purchase it from you, or store in battery backups known as Energy Storage Systems (ESS).

5. Measuring Solar Energy Generation and Consumption

Grid-connected solar power systems require what’s called a bi-directional meter. This meter will record all imported (consumed or purchased from your energy retailer) energy and all exported (sold to the retailer) energy.

Solar Power 101: How Does It Work?

Generating power with solar panels might seem complex, but the idea is simple: converting sunlight into usable electricity, all while reducing environmental impact while offering independence from grid-based power.

Canadian Solar Quotes believes in allowing Canadians to make up their own mind whether solar energy is right for their situation. We’re here to provide unbiased information to help educate and dispel myths about solar in Canada.

Contact us to get started and get 3 solar quotes from your best local solar installation companies.