How Does Solar Work?

Solar Power Installation | Star Solar Specialists

Every hour, enough photons hit the earth to meet all energy needs of the Earth for an entire year. Currently, solar only provides around 1% of the energy used in the United States. However, as solar technology continues to improve and become more affordable, that number will continue to increase. Solar is currently the world’s fastest growing energy source with India, China, and several Middle Eastern countries leading the way with solar energy production. For the first time ever, the growth of solar power has outpaced that of any other fuel source.

Here at Star Solar Specialists, we get many questions about solar power systems and how they work. In this article, we will answer the most common questions we get about solar energy. 


How does solar power work?

A solar power system absorbs energy from the sun in the form of light, and converts in into electricity that can be used to power your home or business. This is possible because the sun is a nuclear reactor.

Due to the nuclear reactions taking place in the sun, it releases energy in the form of light, known as photons. When these photons hit a solar cell, electrons come loose from their atoms. When the electrons hit the negative and positive layers of the solar cell, an electrical circuit is formed. When the electrons flow through the circuit, electricity is generated.

How Does Solar Work | Star Solar Specialists | Kentucky and Indiana Solar Power Installers


What are solar panels made of?

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are comprised of many solar cells. The solar cells are made of silicon. They have a positive layer and a negative layer, which create an electric field when hit with electrons, creating an electrical circuit. This functions in much the same way as a battery. Multiple solar cells are used to create a solar panel. Solar panels can be connected to one another using wires to create a solar array. Connecting multiple solar panels together will maximize the amount of solar power that a system can create.


What is included in a solar power system?

A solar power system, also known as a photovoltaic (PV) system is comprised of solar panels, racks for putting the panels on your roof (or mounting them on the ground), electrical wiring, and an inverter.


How does a solar power system convert light into electricity?

From sunrise to sunset, the solar panels generate electricity (DC) which is sent to an inverter. The inverter converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC), which is type of electricity required for household use. The AC power is delivered directly to your home’s main electrical service panel for use in your house. In off-grid installations, the excess energy is stored in batteries for later use. In some areas, installations are connected to the grid and energy utility companies will buy back the surplus electricity from the home or business owner, thus further lowering energy costs.


While installing a solar power system on your home used to be very expensive, increased demand and improved technology have driven costs down. The average home owner can now afford a solar power system and federal tax incentives make commercial installations more affordable and beneficial than ever before. Learn more about the new tax incentives for commercial installations here.