Solar panels on a modern house

Every homeowner has been there. You look at the power bill and think “Why does electricity cost so much?” Maybe there’s a better way to get power. Maybe you could even make money by using solar panels.

But how do solar panels work? Are they worth the investment? Keep reading to learn some solar panel basics.

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is energy that comes from the sun. Interactions inside the sun produce huge amounts of energy that goes out in all directions from the sun. Although most of this energy goes into space, some of it hits the Earth where we can harvest it.

Inside the sun, hydrogen nuclei, or protons, combine to produce a helium nucleus. This process, called a proton-proton chain reaction, is one method of energy production in the sun.

Other fusion reactions that produce energy in the sun and other stars are the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle and the triple-alpha process.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

When light from the sun reaches the Earth, we need to find some way to turn it into electricity. Solar panels can do this with reasonable efficiency. Solar panels are made of layers of silicon that are treated or doped, in different ways.

The top layer is doped with phosphorous which gives it extra electrons and a negative charge. The bottom layer is doped with boron which gives it fewer electrons and a positive charge.

These opposite electric charges produce an electric field between the two layers of silicon which helps to move electrons in a particular direction.

When light from the sun hits the solar panel, it causes some electrons in the silicon atoms to break free. Because the electric field is there, these electrons move in the same direction where they become electricity we can use.

Installing Solar Panels

There are many things to consider when deciding whether or not to install solar panels on your home or business. One of the most important for you may be economical. Will they save you money?

Despite the initial cost of investment, over time solar panels can almost always save money. One of the main ways they do this is through net metering. Normally, when you use electricity, the power company uses a meter to keep track of it.

However, with solar panels, you can sometimes collect more energy than you use, resulting in a negative reading on your meter. Some power companies give credits to people who generate their own power in this way.

In addition, the federal government has a program where most solar panel installations are tax-deductible.

If you’re thinking about installing solar panels for your home or business, you can find a top solar installation company near you.

Next Steps

Now that we’ve answered the question “how do solar panels work?” and explored solar energy and solar panel installation, feel free to do some research on your own and decide if solar panels are right for you.

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