How Exactly Does Solar Power Work?

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One of the greatest energy production revolutions has been the development of solar power, but despite its popularity, there are countless people who still wonder how the technology itself works. This is understandable since the panels are one of the closest things we have to free power, you make sure they get sun exposure and they make sure you have power flowing where you need it.

As we mentioned, however, many people are still unsure of how the process of solar power generation actually works, on a practical level. We’re going to dig into just what makes solar power work, like how the panels themselves actually generate power, and why we need other components to help process that power into a usable state. Here’s what you need to know about how solar power works.

How Exactly Does Solar Power Work?

Panels Absorb Sunlight

The panels work on their most rudimentary level after being placed in the sun, by being black and absorbing as much of the solar energy as possible to fuel the photovoltaic effect or solar power process. The sunlight passes through a layer of clear polycarbonate coating and comes into contact with the solar cell itself.

Photovoltaic Cells Create DC Power

Each panel is a group of individual cells, and each cell is created by sandwiching two thin slices of semiconductor together, often layers of silicon. This causes the photons of sunlight, which are the basest particles of light, to collide with electrons of atoms of the cell material. Since the two thin materials are given opposite charges, often being dosed with phosphorus and boron, this causes the solar cells to create a magnetic field. This, in conjunction with the action of solar energy, creates an electric charge that is then picked up by the conductive plates on each cell wall.

The Inverter Creates Usable AC Power

Once the conductive plates on the cell walls have absorbed the charge and sent it onward, that charge needs to be changed into an easily usable form. While the power that comes from a solar panel is technically usable, it’s just created as direct current, not the more widely-used alternating current.

In the case of solar power, the charges from all panels are usually combined with a charge controller to unify and smooth out the voltage, which is then fed to an inverter, which inverts the polarity of the DC power to create AC power. Once the power is in AC form, it can be used by just about anything that needs to be plugged in.

Some newer technologies, such as the Enphase system, integrate many of the components into the actual panel itself. Each panel even contains an individual micro inverter, so that the current generated by the panel array is immediately usable by the homeowner. It can either be used or stored in a battery bank.

Our Software Figures Out The Optimal Layout

Barrett Solar uses a special software suite called Aurora to figure out the optimal layout and configuration for your system. This way, we can rely on hard data provided by satellite imaging of solar exposure throughout the year and can give you the best possible solar collection.

Barrett Takes The Mystery Out Of Solar Power

No matter what stage you’re at in the journey to solar power, we want to hear what your home’s power needs are so that Barrett Solar can help you meet those needs as your local solar expert.

Solar panel systems are made of durable tempered glass and require little to no maintenance for the 25 to 35 years that they will generate power. In most cases, you don’t even need to clean your solar panels. You can let the rain or snow take care of that for you. If something does happen, you will have manufacturer warranties on all equipment installed by Barrett Solar.

Solar rebates and incentives vary depending on where you live. In Kansas the largest incentive available is the 26% federal investment tax credit (ITC) which allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your solar energy system from your taxes. Certain municipalities and utilities also offer cash rebates and other incentives. If you are a business in a rural area or a farmer, the USDA offers grants as well.

Solar rebates and incentives vary depending on where you live. In Missouri the largest incentive available is the 26% federal investment tax credit (ITC) which allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your solar energy system from your taxes. Certain municipalities and utilities also offer cash rebates and other incentives. Evergy in Missouri, Columbia power and Ameren have notable rebates available. If you are a business owner in a rural area or a farmer, the USDA offers grants as well.

Barrett Solar offers two options to finance your solar panel system. You can purchase your system in cash or take advantage of our zero down, low APR financing options. We have a lot of different options to choose from. 

Generally it takes very large hail or a major storm to damage your solar panel system. After you go solar you will want to make sure your homeowners insurance policy has enough coverage to replace any of your panels that may be damaged in a heavy storm.

The cost of a solar panel system will depend on many factors, including the size of the system, the equipment, and the financing method. A solar panel system should be viewed as a major home upgrade, and because every home is different it is never good to base an idea of what something should cost off a ballpark figure found on the internet. Barrett Solar offers completely free no obligation solar proposals, and in most cases we can give you an accurate quote with just your historical energy usage data.

Tyler Blanchard

Founder & CEO

Tyler is the CEO of Barrett Solar.

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