How does solar energy work?

Solar energy

How does solar energy work?


A layman would probably refer to solar as the conversion of sun rays into electricity. That would be a justifiable explanation but will leave his audience asking the obvious questions like how does this happen. Let’s take it right from the sun to your electrical appliances and lighting system in the house.

The sun’s rays carry with them small cells of energy called photons which are the secret to solar power. These cells’ are the target of the solar panel whose main functional component in this process is semiconductive cells mostly made out of silicon and which contain negative and positive charges on either side.


When the sun’s rays hit the cells, they knock loose electrons from the atoms that make up photons; remember the iny’ cells we were just talking about?

When the electrons are knocked loose the opposite charges on the silicon cells cause a flow of electrons generating an electric current known as Direct Current or DC. It is many of these semi-conductive cells silicon arranged together that make up the famous solar panel. The silicon cells, however, do not work in isolation. After the direct current is generated it is transmitted to an inverter which in turn converts it to Alternating Current or AC. Now, while Direct Current flows in one direction Alternate Current changes its direction back and forth in intervals. It was discovered that AC is much easier to step down or step up to different voltage calibrations using a single component called a transformer.

This makes it the ideal form of current to transmit especially over long distances. It is, however, important to take note on what form of electric current your appliances use and get the necessary converters for appliances that use DC. So after the electric current is converted to AC it is transmitted to your main power box and through to the circuit breaker which then transmits power throughout the house. However, you will require storage cells just like rechargeable batteries which store the solar energy for use when the solar cells are not producing as much electricity say at night or on a cloudy day. In some settings, there is a provision to feed excessive solar energy generated into transmission grids which are calculated by a net meter which calculates the amount of electricity you feed into the grid which you can then use when you are not generating solar power.


This ensures that you have a constant supply of power in your house. Several silicon cells arranged together to form what we call a solar panel. It is made of a non-reflective material to give it good sunlight absorption properties. Solar panels vary in size depending on the use, for example, a household and a factory. You may also use more than one solar panel to generate more electricity.

Solar is increasingly becoming popular because of its green properties meaning no pollutants are generated during its production. It is also a cheap source of energy; the only major expense here is the installation cost after which there is minimal expenditure on maintenance of your solar system. This form of energy is unfortunately though not the source of choice for many people may be out of ignorance or just taking advantage of the convenience of tapping power from the grid.

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