How do solar panels work?
To boil down the main science behind solar panels is photovoltaics, which is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Within solar panels are solar photovoltaic cells that are combined to give you a solar panel. These cells consist of a metal frame, a glass casing, and semiconductive materials, like silicon, that create energy from the sunlight. Without going too deep into the science, these solar cells are made with two silicon layers and the atoms within these cells bounce around to create energy that gets passed along through wires that transport the energy into an inverter. This is how the solar panels work on a ground level.
How do solar panels work to create electricity?
The next level of how solar panels work is how the electrical energy is directed. Once the energy is produced from the solar panels, the energy must be converted into usable electricity through a solar inverter. This can be done in two different ways, grid-tied and battery, additionally, there is a third option that combines the two.
The first type is grid-tied, this means your solar panels are tied to the electricity grid, so if your solar panels aren’t generating enough electricity then the electricity grid can make up for that. Vise versa, if you are generating too much energy from your solar panels, then you can give that energy to the electricity grid, which can better save on your electricity bill, this process is called net metering. The downside to this is if the electricity goes down, so do your solar panels.
The next type is a battery system, this means your solar panels will be generating energy that would be stored in a battery and you would be pulling electricity from that battery. This is useful for blackouts, but it’s more expensive with the additional cost of the battery. Then the last option is a hybrid between the two, thus benefiting from both options and the hybrid system is often the most commonly used system for solar panels.
Will solar panels work during a power outage?
Therefore, if one were to ask “Will my solar panels work during a power outage?”, by design most residential solar panels will shut down. Grid-tied solar panels will not work during a power outage and they are supposed to be turned off during power outages. After all, they are connected to the electricity grid. If they were generating power during a power outage, this can put electricians in grave danger, while they are working on the electricity grid.
In contrast, a solar battery system will allow the solar panels to continue to work. If the system is a hybrid, then the battery will start up as the battery will disconnect the solar system from the electricity grid when an outage is detected. There are also other alternatives for power in event of a power outage, like a gas generator or solar generator.
To summarize everything, solar panels are made up of multiple solar cells combined. These solar cells consist of many materials, but the important one being semiconductor materials, the most common one being silicon. The solar cells utilize the silicon to create energy from the sun, which then gets transported through wires into an inverter. The inverter then converts the energy into electricity that would either be sent to the electricity grid or battery to be used.
There are 3 main types of inverters, grid-tied that is tied to the electricity grid, a battery system that stores electricity for future use, and a hybrid of grid-tied and battery. In the event of a power outage, it is better to invest a bit more in a battery or hybrid solar system to allow for continuous electricity.
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