How solar works
Sunrun Team· 3
How does solar energy work? It’s not rocket science! In fact, it’s pretty easy to understand.
Solar energy is a powerful tool that we can use to power our homes. Not only is it good for the environment, but it can also lower your electricity bill.
The photons released by the sun can be converted into energy and electricity through photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. How does that energy power your home and save you money? We’ve broken it down into 5 steps.
- Rooftop solar panels soak up the sun.
- Those shiny solar panels you see everywhere… this is their chance to shine. But how do solar panels work? When the sunlight hits the solar cells on a rooftop solar panel, it converts particles of sunlight (photons) into electrons of direct current (DC) electricity.
- The electricity gets a makeover.
- A solar inverter – a box usually installed on the outside side of your house – changes the electricity from DC to AC (alternating current). Why the change? Well, the U.S. grid is set up for AC electricity. This means TVs, computers, appliances… pretty much everything runs off of AC electricity.
- Your solar meter goes to work.
- When solar panels are installed, a solar meter is also installed. Sunrun’s meter, for example, allows us to monitor your system’s solar power production, catch any potential problems, and repair them—usually before you even notice there’s an issue.
- Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.
- Solar electricity from the inverter flows through a service panel to your home or the grid.
- A net meter reports to the utility company.
- Just because you have solar panels, doesn’t mean your old utility company is completely out of the picture. You’ll still be using some power from them. Our solar panels still collect daylight during rainy or cloudy days, but it may not generate as much power. Nighttime is another example of when your home may need to draw power from a utility company. That’s where the net meter comes in. Your utility uses it to read the amount of electricity you use from the grid during times when your solar system is not as active. But it also keeps track of electricity that flows into the grid from your solar system when it’s pumping out clean, natural energy in droves. So, if your solar system creates more energy than you’ve used, you get a credit on your bill. If you have enough extra credit built up, you can carry your bill credit forward for up to a year.
Now you know how solar energy works, but how much money can you really save? A recent study determined that in America's 50 biggest cities, customers that invested in a 5 kW solar system saved an average of $44 to $187 per month during the first year that they owned their system*. Pretty impressive!
Get a free quote today and see how you can start saving electricity and money for your home.