How Solar Panels Work

What is a solar panel?

A solar panel, also known as a photovoltaic (PV) panel, is a collection of photovoltaic cells that are used to convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. Solar panels are made up of silicon cells, metal frames, glass covers, and wiring, and they are typically mounted on rooftops or ground-mounted systems to collect sunlight. When sunlight hits the cells, it creates an electric field across the layers of silicon, which causes electrons to flow, generating a direct current. The DC electricity generated by the solar panel can then be converted into alternating current (AC) electricity for use in homes, businesses, and power grids.

How does solar power work?

Solar power works by using photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity is then fed into an inverter, which converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type of electricity used in homes and businesses. The AC electricity can be used immediately, or it can be stored in a battery system for later use. If the solar power system generates more electricity than is being used, the excess electricity can be sent back to the power grid for others to use.

What are the benefits of going solar?

The benefits of solar power include:

  1. Renewable Energy: Solar power is a renewable energy source, meaning it can be used indefinitely without running out.

  2. Reduced Energy Costs: Solar power systems can significantly reduce electricity costs for homeowners and businesses over time.

  3. Improved Energy Independence: Solar power can help reduce dependence on non-renewable energy sources and improve energy independence.

  4. Low Maintenance: Solar panels have no moving parts and require very little maintenance, making them a reliable source of energy.

  5. Environmentally Friendly: Solar power produces no greenhouse gases or other pollutants, making it a clean and environmentally friendly energy source.

  6. Job Creation: The growth of the solar industry is creating new jobs in research, development, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.

  7. Increased Property Value: Homes and buildings with solar panels can have increased property values.

  8. Versatile: Solar panels can be used in a variety of applications, from powering homes and businesses to providing electricity to remote areas that lack access to the power grid.

How does utility solar work?

Utility solar power refers to large-scale solar power systems that generate electricity for utility companies to distribute to their customers through the power grid. These systems are typically composed of thousands of solar panels installed in solar farms and are connected to the power grid.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.

  2. The DC electricity is fed into inverters, which convert the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type of electricity used in homes and businesses.

  3. The AC electricity is then sent to a substation, where it is transformed into high-voltage electricity and sent to the power grid.

  4. The power grid distributes the electricity to homes and businesses, where it is used for lighting, heating, cooling, and powering appliances and equipment.

Utility solar power is a cost-effective and clean way to generate electricity for large numbers of customers, and it helps to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy sources and improve energy independence.

How does commercial solar work?

Commercial solar refers to the use of solar power systems in commercial buildings and facilities, such as offices, warehouses, and retail stores. Commercial solar power systems can generate electricity for use on-site, reducing the need for electricity from the power grid and lowering the building’s energy costs.

Commercial solar power systems are typically larger and more complex than residential solar power systems, and they may involve multiple arrays of solar panels, specialized equipment, and sophisticated energy management systems. They may also require different types of financing and installation methods, such as power purchase agreements (PPAs) or outright purchases.

The benefits of commercial solar power include reduced energy costs, improved energy independence, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, commercial solar power can help to improve the sustainability of a business, enhance its reputation, and attract customers who are looking for environmentally responsible businesses.

Residential solar: buy or lease?

The decision to buy or lease solar panels depends on several factors, including your financial situation, energy needs, and long-term goals.

Here are some things to consider:


  • Higher upfront costs: Buying solar panels requires a significant upfront investment, but over time, you can save money on your electricity bills.

  • Ownership: When you buy solar panels, you own the system and are eligible for any incentives, such as tax credits, that are available for solar power systems.

  • Long-term savings: Over time, the savings from lower electricity bills can be substantial, making buying a good option for those who plan to stay in their home for many years.


  • Lower upfront costs: Leasing solar panels requires little or no upfront investment, making it a good option for those who cannot afford to buy a solar power system.

  • No ownership: When you lease solar panels, you do not own the system, and the benefits, such as tax credits, go to the company that owns the system.

  • Fixed monthly payments: Leasing typically involves fixed monthly payments, which can be a predictable way to reduce your electricity bills.

Ultimately, the decision to buy or lease solar panels will depend on your individual circumstances and goals. It’s a good idea to consult with a solar energy expert or a financial advisor to determine the best option for your needs.

How long do solar panels last?

The lifespan of solar panels depends on several factors, but most manufacturers offer warranties for 25-30 years. Solar panels can often last even longer, with some panels still producing power after 35 years of use. However, the efficiency of the panels may decrease over time, typically by 0.5% to 1% per year.