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How Solar Power Works

Solar energy is quickly becoming a popular form of energy production, thus it is important to understand how solar power works. The process begins when sunlight is absorbed and converted to energy by photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells can be linked to create panels, and panels can be linked together to create arrays. PV arrays can collect enough sunlight to provide enough electricity to an entire household. They can be made from three different cells: moncrystalline, polycrystalline, or amorphous silicon. Monocrystalline are the most efficient with the highest concentration of silicon per unit. Amorphous cells have the least amount of silicon, making them the less productive.  Polycrystalline panels fall in between the monocrystalline and amorphous silicon cells. Different cells serve different purposes. For instance, amorphous silicon panels are light-weight, and can be used to make peel-and-stick panels and placed on flat roofs or on tracking devices.

With a basic understanding of how solar power works, it is time to know how the system is installed. First, the positioning of the panels is vital. If they are not positioned to absorb the most sunshine, they will not work to meet their full potential. Research shows panels not facing true south lose 15-20% in productivity. Likewise, shading and light obstructions also prove to be problematic by reducing energy production. When discussing these issues with installation experts, think over potential shading issues from trees, buildings, lines, telephone poles, chimneys, etc. The smallest shadow can prove detrimental to the efficiency of how a solar power system works.

Another item to consider can be installing a PV structure on a flat roof. To have the panels slanting south, installers may build a weighted, slanted structure on the roof. This may require a building permit. In these situations, contractors may recommend homeowners use a peel-and-stick panel on flat roofs. Peel-and-stick panels can also be attached to a pole. This system will also include a tracking device, allowing for the panels to follow the sun’s track throughout the sky, exposing them to the most light and produce as much energy as possible.

With a better understanding of how solar power works, the benefits of PV energy become apparent. There is also the monetary incentive. After the initial cost of installing the system itself, there is no cost in its upkeep. Though, occasionally, one may have to brush leaves off or wash the panels. There will not be many costs associated with producing energy at home; just the need of sunlight and panels. There is another financial advantage. Depending on how much is produced, there may be remaining energy from the day put into the electric grid. The electric company will credit the homeowner for this energy. If the time comes that one does not have enough solar electricity stored from the PV system, one can access the electric grid. That cost will be partially covered, if not entirely covered, by previously earned credit.

Additionally, not only can the homeowner be saving themselves the hassle of paying repeated electric bills, but they can be reimbursed for installation costs. The Federal Energy Act of 2005 included provisions for a 30% tax credit on federal income taxes for anyone who installs a PV system before January 01, 2016. There is also the environment-friendly choice. With an understanding of how solar power works and its benefits, it seems practical to have one installed onto one’s home.


Soluxe Solar offers installation of solar roof systems nationwide including: Suffolk County, Westchester County, NY, Fairfield County and the surrounding New York area as well as Connecticut and New Jersey.

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