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What Are Solar Panels Used For?

Solar panels are designed to be highly efficient producers of solar energy, which can be used to generate electricity for your home. Learn more at SmartSolar.org.
Solar Panels
7 minutes
Written by:
Joey Cheek
Updated on:
December 2, 2022

The investment in solar panels could be the ideal way for you to power your home without having to rely on an electric company for electricity. Solar panels use the sun's rays, or more specifically, the sun's radiation, to electrical energy currents that can be converted into standard power, just like what you have in your home now. So, what are solar panels used for? How do they work? If you are considering solar panel installation, contact SmartSolar.org to learn just how well solar power can work for your home.

What Is A Solar Panel?

The sun produces solar energy. There is so much solar energy hitting the planet every day that just a few hours of light can power all of the Earth's needs – but we do not utilize solar energy enough. The solar panel was designed to help facilitate a way to capture the solar energy from the sun and turn it into a usable form of energy that can be used in every home or business.

A solar panel, sometimes called a photovoltaic panel or PV panel, is designed to capture and absorb the sun's rays as they strike the panel's surface. The sun's light is made up of particles of energy that are known as photons. When that solar energy strikes the panel, it creates a current, which is then converted into DC power. The solar panel then uses an inverter to turn that DC power – which cannot be used easily by most applications – into AC power, which is what most homes and businesses run on.

A solar panel, then, can take the photons from the sun and produce electricity from it to be used to power homes. This is renewable energy because the sun's energy does not run out, and we are not depleting it by using it.

Solar technology is a bit more complex than this, but the overall process is not as difficult as it may seem. If you invest in solar cells, you can have solar panels' electricity production that allows you to get all or most of your electricity from the sun rather than the fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, that you're using now.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Because of the value solar panel systems can offer, it is well worth learning more about how they work. A solar panel works to collect solar radiation that comes from sunlight. It then turns that sunlight into electricity that provides electrical power to meet the demands of electrical loads. To do this, they are made up of several layers of material. 

This includes layers of silicon, which is sand – the most commonly available natural resource in the world – and phosphorus. The phosphorus helps to provide the negative charge needed, while boron, another layer, provides the positive charge.

When direct sunlight hits the solar panel, the panel then absorbs the photos. When this happens, it creates a charge and starts an electric current. That current creates energy that comes from the photos hitting the surface of the solar panel. As that happens, the electrons present are then disturbed by the solar cells. As that occurs, free electrons are pulled into a directional current (DC).

The process that takes place is called the photovoltaic effect. This happens over and over again as more electricity is generated. The DC power is then run through an inverter which allows it to become alternating current (AC) power which can be used in homes or businesses.

What happens at night when there is no sun?

Solar panels do only work when there is no sunlight present. That's why there is a bit more to the solar power system than just this. Most solar panel systems have a battery storage system. This battery storage works to capture the electricity being produced and holds onto it like any type of battery would. That way, when the solar panels cannot work due to a lack of sunlight, the battery power works reliably to keep the electrical needs of the property met.

Consider net metering when thinking of solar energy

Another big component of this process is the use of net metering. It can help property owners in two ways. For example, if the home is set up to produce electricity through solar power and it generates too much for the power needs of that property, it is possible for the excess electricity to be sourced to the electrical grid, where you are likely getting power from right now. In some situations, this can further reduce the electricity bills of the property owner.

In addition to this, in situations where there just is not enough power produced by the solar panels due to poor weather conditions or too much demand for electricity, the building remains connected to the grid. That means that when there is a need, the grid can become the necessary power source for the home as needed.

In both situations, solar can provide for your needs, but you still have some backup in another energy source for days when there is too much cloud cover or your needs are more than the system can generate.

What Are The Benefits of Solar Panels?

Solar power systems are designed to meet the needs of a specific property. You can use solar panels for residential properties where they can meet the demands of nearly any home with enough solar energy production. In addition to this, solar power can be used to power just about anything else, including remote locations, water purification systems, generators, and commercial buildings. There is enough solar energy to power just about any need – including industrial and warehouse applications in some situations.

The key here is to see the value that solar technologies bring to the table. When you invest in solar photovoltaic cells, you benefit in several ways:

1. You generate electricity without the need for a grid.

That means you do not have to worry about the power going out due to storm damage and leaving you without the protection you need. As long as there is sunlight, solar power systems will meet your needs with reliability. This creates energy security that you don't have to worry about.

2. They are energy efficient.

Today's solar panel systems are highly efficient, capable of generating enough energy to ensure they meet the needs of the home and often create excess electricity that can be sold back to the electric company from the solar array.

3. They are renewable energy

3. They are renewable energy. 

Unlike traditional electricity that relies on the use of fossil fuels which generate carbon emissions, solar panels do not. With the use of photovoltaic modules in your home, you are reducing your carbon footprint and doing your part to reduce global climate change.

4. Eliminate electric bills. 

For many people, the goal of installing solar panels is to significantly reduce or eliminate electric bills. This allows you to save money. You can get the electricity that you need without having to pay the utility company for that power.

5. Use them to power remote locations.  

If you are living off the grid or you have the need to provide power to a building that's not on the grid – such as your greenhouse or perhaps workshop – you can use solar panels to do so.

For many people, there is real value in installing solar panels. The process can be simple too. You can generate electricity at a rate that's best suited for your home. Because solar power systems can be as large or as small as the demand is, it is then possible to produce enough energy to meet just about any need. If you need more energy over time, you can get that by expanding your solar system.

How to Get Started with Solar Power

Solar panels are readily available to most people today. The more solar energy that's used around the world, the better it is for the planet. The good news is solar technology has also become far more affordable than it was. That means you can get the solar power you need through solar cells priced within your budget. Solar power creates jobs. A solar power system on your home could help you to reduce your need for electric grid energy and, as a result, minimize the need for electricity produced from fossil fuels.

Are you ready to find out how to create electricity at your home? Let us help you to do that. Learn more about solar energy and how it may work to meet your needs. Take our SmartSolar.org quiz to get started. When you do, you'll learn just how effective solar panels can be for your needs. Contact us now to learn more. Let SmartSolar.org help you to invest in solar energy today.

Joey Cheek

Meet the author:

Joey Cheek

Joey Cheek spent 10 years on the US National Speedskating Team where he competed in two Olympic Games, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. He attended Princeton before diving into the startup and tech world. In 2011 he launched a livestreaming platform for sports before leading a team of engineers building next-gen news and content apps for Fortune 100 companies. He is the CEO and co-founder of SmartSolar.org, whose mission is to move the earth to cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy.

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