How Solar Works
Solar power systems - how do they work?
How does solar energy work?
Solar power cells convert sunlight into electricity, using the energy of speeding photons to create an electrical current within a solar panel.
Photons are created in the center of the sun by the fusion of atoms. It takes a photon about a million years to work its way to the surface of the sun, but once free it is hurled through space so fast that it reaches earth in just eight minutes - after traveling 93 million miles.
This tremendous energy from the sun is abundant, and has been powering the earth for billions of years - feeding plants, redistributing and refreshing water supplies and ultimately creating other forms of energy (such as fossil fuels) that largely power our civilization today.
Over the past several decades, scientists have been learning to harness this ancient energy source with more efficiency to do the work of non-renewable fuels - without pollution, noise or radiation, and not subject to economic whims that drive costs higher each year.
An interesting side note: Photons are also called quanta. They are literally "packets" of sunlight" . Albert Einstein got his Nobel Prize for his study of quantum mechanics.
How do solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity?
The sun transmits energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. When this radiation is absorbed by the solar cells, a chemical reaction occurs, causing rapid electron movement. Because of the way the cells are manufactured with layers of material with differing atomic structures, the electrons are forced to move in one direction, creating direct current, or DC. It then flows into an inverter which converts the DC into alternating current, or AC, to be usable in your home or business.