How do Solar Panels Work?

How do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panel installation companies claim to make life easy by providing energy independence and unlimited savings. It is a clean source of energy that does not harm our planet and the eco-system. According to the International Energy Agency report released in 2017, solar energy has become the world’s most rapidly-growing source of power, making it the first time that solar energy’s progression has exceeded all other fuels.

However, the main question that needs answering is, how do the solar energy panels work? Therefore, this post is all about educating our readers on this topic. But before we get into details, let’s first understand what solar energy is?

Solar Energy

Solar energy functions by absorbing the sun’s energy and revolving it into electricity for your home or business.

Sun is a natural nuclear reactor that releases tiny packs of energy known as photons. These photons travel 93 million miles from the sun to our planet in approximately 8.5 minutes. Each hour, enough photons come into contact with Earth to generate enough solar energy to hypothetically fulfill global energy needs for a whole year. So, solar power is capturing the energy from the Sun and converting it into electricity using various technologies such as using photovoltaic, which is a direct system or indirectly using concentrated solar power, or even a combination.

Now, that we know what is solar energy, let’s get into details of how solar panels work?

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Simply put, a solar energy panel functions by allowing photons (particles of light) to knock electrons loose from their atoms, forming an electrical circuit as conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell. So, when electrons move through the circuit, they generate electricity.

A solar panel is made up of multiple, smaller units known as photovoltaic (PV) cells. (Photovoltaic means they change sunlight into electricity). These cells are linked together as every photovoltaic cell is essentially a sandwich made up of two layers of semi-conducting material that is usually silicon, which is the same stuff used in microelectronics.

To work, these photovoltaic cells need to form an electric field that occurs when opposite charges are separated. Therefore, solar cells are constructed with a positive or negative electrical charge that generates an electric field when put together and hit by photons from sunlight, just like in a battery. It is called the photoelectric effect, and it is what creates the current required to produce electricity.

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

PV solar energy panels generate direct current (DC) energy and allow electrons to flow in one route around a circuit. It is like a battery powering a light bulb as electrons move through the lamp from the negative point of the battery to the positive side of the battery.

This (DC) energy is then converted into useable AC (alternating current) by passing it through an inverter. Now, the electricity can be funneled into the National Grid or be used by the business or home the solar panels are attached to as this AC energy flows through a home’s electrical panel and is circulated accordingly. Multiple panels can be wired together to develop a solar array. So, the more panels you can arrange, the more energy they can produce.

Here is the quick recap of the main steps for how solar panels work for your home:

  • Photovoltaic cells capture the sun’s energy and change it to DC electricity
  • The solar inverter converts DC electricity from the solar panels to AC electricity, which is used by the home appliances
  • Powering electronic devices, electricity flows through a home,
  • Excess electricity generated by solar panels is moved to the electric grid

How the Grid Factors into the Home Solar Process?

Every house that is attached to the electrical grid has something called a utility meter. It is what your energy supplier uses to measure and supply power to the house. When you install solar panels on a ground mount on your property or the roof, these solar panels are connected to your house’s utility meter. It means that the production quantity of your solar system can be retrieved and measured by this meter.

Many homes in the U.S. have a net metering system, which is a major solar incentive that improves the economics of solar considerably. It allows you to send energy to the grid when your solar system overproduces (during the day in sunny summer months) in conversation for credits on your electric bill. And during hours of low electricity generation (like nighttime in winter), the credits can be used to draw extra power from the grid and meet the household electricity demand.

Some Common Misconceptions about Solar Panels and Energy production

Solar energy panels generate more electricity in the summer. Therefore, there is a common assumption that they need warmer weather to work. However, this isn’t the case. It is just that warmer temperature and stronger sunlight often go hand in hand. In fact, solar panels can become less efficient if the temperature gets too hot or too cold as well.

Cloudy days are ok as solar panels react to the observable light range. This means, if there is light visible enough to see, there is enough light for solar modules to start producing electricity. However, the stronger the sunlight, the better the power generation.

At present, photovoltaic energy accounts for only five-tenths of 1 percent of the energy used up in the United States, which is due to cost and technological reasons. However, solar technology is improving rapidly as our ability to capturing the sun’s abundant energy is on the rise while the cost of going solar is dropping quickly. Solar energy is getting more efficient and affordable. However, you will need a good solar panel installation company to have quality solar for your home. And if you from Houston TX and surrounding area, then Sunshine Renewable Solutions is the best option to have solar for business or home.

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Solar Energy ROI

Return On Investment with Going Solar

Our customers pay an average of $2,000 per year for dirty power from their electric company. (Your household’s current cost is likely very near to this figure.) This means that, considering zero inflation of price per kWh from your utility, you will have paid them roughly $50,000 after 25 years. Comparably, a Sunshine Renewable Solutions residential solar system offering 100% offset of household power consumption and a 25-year hardware warranty typically ranges between $15,000 and $30,000 in total cost (before the 30% tax credit). Although the upfront cost of generating your own clean power via solar may seem daunting, it truly is a more affordable way to power your house.

The potential for savings is evident at this point, but we’ve yet to factor in how much you could save on electricity costs. Let’s say that your 9-kW system costs $24,000 in total. After the 30% federal tax credit, your cost for this system would be $16,800. In Houston, we receive a healthy 4.65 average hours of peak sunlight, which means your system produces about 41.85 kWh. At the current average price of $0.109/kWh, this system will save you about $4.56 per day, or $1,600 per year, and will pay for itself in full within roughly 10.5 years. Every watt of power you generate after that point will be money earned and carbon emissions saved!

It turns out that the typical IRR for a solar investment is between 8-10%, which is incredible when you realize that’s greater than or equal to the return you would expect on the stock market.

If you’re like us in that you’re always trying to find the next creative way to reduce your overall cost of living, let us show you how tomorrow’s technology can do so for you—starting today!

Is Solar Worth It?

Is Going Solar Worth It Yet?

Updated August 22nd, 2021

Is solar worth it? Many homeowners like yourself are now wondering “is the technology generating a sufficient return?.” It’s no secret that solar power has become increasingly more popular, but is it merely trendy or is it now a smart decision? Has solar panel cost come down far enough to make the expense of installation worthwhile?

Homeowners in Houston, Texas and throughout the United States are increasingly investing in renewable energy. The US has added more solar power (75,900 megawatts to be exact) than every other country, except for China, for the generation of electricity in 2021. Solar-generated power now accounts for around 39% of all new electricity produced. Wild, we know!

The current trend in the US is only a reflection of a broader global shift when it comes to using solar power as a source of energy for homes and businesses. According to data collected from the United Nations Environment Program, solar energy attracted $303.5 billion in investment last year, and has now become the fastest growing electricity source globally. So, is now the right time to join the green revolution in Texas? Let’s find out.

State Of The Art: Photovoltaic Modules

Solar technology has grown to heights unimaginable by its inventors, but never since its inception has photovoltaic technology advanced at the rate that it is today. Luckily, the wait is over and the it has finally plateaued. Some of the first solar panels installed in the 1980s are still going strong. It’s truly incredible. Today’s solar panels operate at an efficacy of 15 to 22 percent. While you will pay a slight premium to install panels with an efficacy on the higher end, it easily pays off. You can get a quick peek into the current state of the art solar panel technology here.

Solar Panel Cost Today

Is rooftop solar within reach today? More importantly – does it finally cost less than the value of the energy it produces?

Solar energy is more cost-effective, accessible and prevalent in the US than ever before. Since 2015, the average solar panel cost has dropped by 70%, while the cost of a full solar panel installation has fallen by 20% in just the past five years. Since the solar energy markets are maturing rapidly in the US, and the world, going solar has now become more economically viable than ever, especially in states such as, California, Texas, Minnesota and Hawaii.

Apart from being the cleanest energy source available, using solar power is also leading to better economic growth, job creation, and mitigating the effects of climate change, making it an appealing solution to meet the rising energy demands of modern society.

Also, you can get some more insight on this topic here.

Is Solar Worth it?

Yes, yes and yes! Solar panel cost is at an all time low and the cost of installation is so reasonable that you can be cashflow positive on day one. The return on investment is 20 percent for a typical solar system, which is double what you can expect from investing your money conservatively in the stock market. Like real estate, you are quite literally making money while you sleep.

While we can’t guarantee that your home is ideal for solar, our job is to do that work for you. We use the finest technology available to evaluate your roof and its ability to offset your current energy production. We factor in all aspects of your current and future energy production (do you plan to install a pool or purchase an electric vehicle you’d like to charge at home?) to provide a turnkey solution to meet your needs.

If you have been watching and waiting for the right time to pull the trigger, we can confidently tell you that the time is now. The federal tax credit is currently 26%, and has been extended through the end of 2022. As it stands, it will decrease to 22 percent in 2023 and then disappear, which is another major reason to pull the trigger soon.
Pro Tip: You can find a wonderful wealth of information on the benefits of going solar and ways to get discounted rates while vetting reputable installers here.

Sunshine Renewable Solutions’ Mission

Sunshine Renewable Solutions’ Mission

Updated August 22nd, 2021 / Written by: Sid


July heat in Texas is quite simply a very miserable thing to endure. The degree of “miserable-ness” is significantly heightened when you are on top of a roof in the middle of the day and the sun has just crested to its zenith in the sky. But as I stood on that roof sweating through my blue jeans, feeling my face burn and watching the sunscreen melt off my body, I was as content as I had been in a very long while. Two rows of seven solar panels rested on the roof, stoically absorbing the sunshine to power the home below, and the pure joy came from knowing that my best friend Jeff and I could say we put them there.

Our finished install!

In March of this year, I was in a different place: at a desk in an air-conditioned office, staring at a laptop for at least 10 hours per day. I was an auditor at an accounting firm and every day I was thinking of different ways change my career path. There was not enough learning going on to say that I was developing positively so a change needed to be made. I also couldn’t shake the feeling that my work had little to no impact on the world. So by the end of April I left that job, but new stresses inevitably emerged. What in the world was next? As it happens, fate called me a couple of days later.

“Hey, I’m going to start a solar company,” Jeff said, “Come on board with me.”

Jeff, the CEO and founder of Sunshine Renewable Solutions, has a way of always getting you excited about whatever venture he’s getting into. We talked about all of the possibilities and strategies we could implement. Nevertheless, I still wandered for a couple of months until finally, he called me again one afternoon in July.

“Hey come help me on this install. I need you.”

Hands-on manual labor had never been my strong suit, but I’ve always wanted something different. If I truly needed to be convinced about solar, this was the only way for me.

As I continued to stare at the solar panels that hung on Sean’s roof, I finally felt I had made a difference. That feeling I was yearning for – to make a differnece – had found me.

Sean and his wife had been unbelievably hospitable to us during our three days of the grueling installation. In return, we had given him the power to generate his own energy. He no longer had to deal with lofty utility bill payments, and we got him closer to his goal of having himself and his log cabin completely self-sufficient. Sean wanted the opportunity to enjoy his home on the river and experience a deeper connection with the natural world, rather than a utility connection and all of the unknowns that come with it.

Myself and our amazing customer, Sean

After this experience, the mission for Sunshine Renewable Solutions became very clear. We wanted to foster along a cultural movement to change the way people think about, and enjoy, energy.

Our mission is to educate you and show you that your own solar panel installation is something that you can own and produce yourself. Solar will connect you with nature and you’ll never have to worry about uncontrollable market fluctuations. Together, we will give back and protect our awe-inspiring planet.

For more information on vetting solar installers, please read here! You can also find an abundance of great information from Solar United Neighbors here. Happy shopping and we hope you go solar soon!