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How Is Solar Energy Converted Into Electricity

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is: how is solar energy converted into electricity?

Since solar power is by far the cleanest, most reliable form of renewable energy available, and it can be used in several forms to help power your home or business. You should learn how this works:

Solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the sun's rays into electricity through the electrons in silicon cells using the photons of light from the sun. Since silicon is one of the planet’s most commonly used elements, it is easily accessible to make these renewable energy solar panels.

During manufacturing, small amounts of other elements are introduced to alter the electrical properties of the silicon atoms. Strips of negative (n-type) silicon, which has an extra electron and positive (p-type) silicon that is missing one electron, are sandwiched together. The combination forms a photovoltaic cell. And when multiple photovoltaic cells are placed side by side under glass, they give us common solar panels.

Inside each solar panel is a conductive metal plate connected to wires that lead to a fused array combiner. Energy from the array is sent through an inverter, which transforms the initial direct electrical current into the alternating electrical current required to power human-made structures.


When the sun is shining and visible it is composed of invisible particles called photons. These have energy, but you cannot see it by the naked eye. When the photons collide with other particles their energy is converted to other forms depending on the kind of atoms they touch. Most collisions create only heat.

But electricity can also be produced when the photons make electrons in the atoms so agitated that they break away and move about freely. The n-type silicon electrons seek out the ones in p-type silicon to replace their missing electrons and the flow between the two types produced.

The remarkable properties of semiconductors like silicon makes it possible to sustain the electrical imbalances. This means a steady supply of electricity as long as photons hit the solar panels. The current is collected by wires and carried throughout the system.

And that is, in a nutshell, how solar energy is converted into electricity!

If you would like more information about our solar energy system, please contact us at (866) ONIT-SUN.


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