Solar panels on a house: How do they work?

Isn’t it true that more and more solar panels are popping up on rooftops in your neighborhood? Are your neighbors saving money on their bills while you hesitate because you don’t know what you’re getting into? We’re here to help and explain the basics: here’s how solar panels work on a house.

How solar panels generate electricity for a house

At the heart of every solar panel are photovoltaic cells, which are the workhorses responsible for generating electricity. Solar cells are typically made from semiconductor materials, most commonly crystalline silicon. When sunlight strikes these cells, photons, tiny particles of light, knock electrons free from the atoms within the cells. This creates an electric current, and thus, electricity is generated. You can learn more in our article on how do home solar panels work. 

By connecting several solar cells together in a solar panel and wiring several panels in an array, we can generate a significant amount of electricity. But solar panels cannot power our home directly because they generate direct current (DC), while most electrical appliances run on alternating current (AC). That’s why we need an inverter to convert DC to AC.

Now, electricity generated by solar panels and converted by the inverter can be used to power the electrical appliances in our homes. Any excess electricity that our home doesn’t use can be fed into the grid, while we can potentially earn credits to reduce our electricity bills. Or instead of sending excess electricity to the grid, we can choose to store it in batteries for later use during the night or power outages, making our home even more self-sufficient

Different types of solar panels for homes

Now that we’ve covered how does solar power work for homes, let’s explore different types of solar panels for a house. Not all solar panels are created equal, and homeowners have several options when it comes to choosing the right type for their specific needs. The primary types of solar panels used in residential applications are: 

• Monocrystalline solar panels: These panels are known for their high efficiency and sleek black appearance. They are made from a single crystal structure, which results in greater energy production per square foot. Monocrystalline panels are now the most popular option among homeowners because of their price/efficiency balance.
• Polycrystalline solar panels: These panels were popular some 10 years ago. Polycrystalline panels are much cheaper than monocrystalline panels, but also less powerful since they are made from multiple crystals. That is why the latter have almost completely replaced them now. But you can still see polycrystalline panels on the roofs of residential and commercial buildings. They are very easy to recognize by their blue color.
• Thin-film solar panels: Thin-film panels are made by depositing thin layers of semiconductor materials onto a substrate. One of the primary advantages of thin-film solar panels is their flexibility. Because they are much thinner and lighter than traditional solar panels, they can be applied to curved or flexible surfaces. This flexibility makes them suitable for unique applications like solar-integrated building materials and portable solar chargers.
• Bifacial solar panels: Bifacial panels, as their name implies, can capture sunlight from both the front and rear sides, increasing energy generation. These panels should be elevated or mounted to maximize their exposure to reflected light, such as sunlight bouncing off the ground or nearby surfaces. They can be a great option for homeowners with limited roof space or those seeking higher energy production.

Can’t decide which one suits you best? Check out our article on Best residential solar panels in 2023: A1SolarStore choice.

Years of experience in translation and a love of nature help Julia find the right words to encourage going solar. She joined the team in 2023 and is happy to make her contribution to a greener future.

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