How Solar Panels Work

Not to be confused with solar hot water systems, solar PV energy systems are designed to collect energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. Experienced solar technicians install photovoltaic panels on the roof of your premises, positioned to best match your loads. Maximum output is achieved on sunny days, however on cloudy days the panels will continue to operate with lower production.

The panels convert the sun’s rays into DC (direct current) electricity, and this is sent to an inverter which converts it to AC (alternating current) electricity, which feeds into the electrical system of your premises; powering your lights, household devices and other appliances. In grid connect solar systems, your premises draws power directly from the grid whenever electrical demand outstrips production and is charged at standard rates by the power company.

Any surplus energy your panels produce during the day is automatically fed back into the grid, and you will receive a credit on your electricity account (also known as as a “feed-in tariff”). The feed in tariff in Victoria is currently about 5.5 cents a kWh. But this will jump to 11.3 cents a kWh on the first of July 2017. Production is metered, to accurately measure the amount of energy that your solar system exports and also what energy you draw from the grid.

How do solar panels work?

When rays of light hit the photovoltaic panels, particles of light called photons cause a reaction in the cells. Solar panels are made from thin wafers of silicon, which carry millions of atoms with charged electrons; the negatively and positively charged electrons interact in ways that create voltage when the silicon panels are exposed to sunlight.

The cells of silicon in a solar panel are placed in rows and connected using a conductive strip, woven in and around each silicon cell to create an electric circuit. Covered in glass and framed in aluminium, each panel is connected with two leads at the back which link it to the solar inverter. The voltage and current rating of PV panels will vary depending on the application, but panels for domestic use are generally manufactured at 24-44 volts open circuit, with a rating of 5-8 amps.

The solar inverter converts solar energy from DC electricity to AC electricity; this is typically mounted on the wall next to your power switchboard. A fully-qualified solar technician can advise you on size, design and system requirements according to your power consumption needs.

If you wish to learn more about solar power, discuss your requirements or arrange a quote, call us on 0409 804 183 or