How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar energy is a powerful and effective way to generate green energy for your commercial business. Utilising the sun's power – which is far more powerful than any manufactured nuclear reactor – solar systems can effectively harness that energy in the form of photons, which in turn provide power to businesses worldwide.

If you're wondering 'solar panels, how do they work in Australia?', we've covered all the details for you below. As one of the world's sunniest locations, Australia is the perfect place to make the most of commercial solar power systems year-round.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels work by converting the energy from the sun, known as photons, into electricity. These particles of light arrive on Earth from the sun in around eight and a half minutes. When these photons land on a solar cell, the electrons surrounding their atoms are knocked loose. The solar cell has conductors connected to the negative and positive sides of a cell, resulting in an electrical circuit. When these electrons flow into the circuit, electricity is generated. Each solar cell is combined with another to form a solar panel, which are then wired to other solar panels to create a solar system or solar array.

What are solar panels made from?

Solar panels are made from a specific photovoltaic cell material to transform photons into electricity – also known as PV. Each photovoltaic PV solar panel is created from numerous solar cells contained in glass packaging. The cells themselves are made from silicone, with positive and negative layers to create that electric field. This is much like you'd see in a typical battery – the difference is that the electricity entering the cell is from the sun rather than from energy stored within.

How does the energy from solar panels become electricity?

The electrons that enter solar panel cells are known as direct current, or DC, electricity. This means all of the electrons are travelling in one direction in a loop. If you were to power a machine with a solar panel alone, it would be a closed circuit. The electrons would leave the cell from the negative side, go through the machine, and return to the positive side.

What is included in a solar panel system?

For a complete solar panel system, you'll need more than some solar panels hooked up to your commercial electricity. Solar panels are a must, but you'll also need a complete commercial system to suit the needs of your business. This includes a solar inverter, solar racking for roof mounting, a monitoring services system, and battery storage. This allows solar energy to be stored for later, ensuring that you aren't wasting electricity over the weekend or outside your hours of operation.

How does a solar inverter work in a solar panel system?

Standard Australian electrical power grids don't use DC electricity – they use alternating current or AC electric. This means the directions of the electrons constantly change. For solar panel electricity to be used effectively, it needs to be converted from DC to AC.

A solar inverter is a solution to this problem. It takes all that generated DC electricity and converts it to AC, providing grounding and offering real-time monitoring of the complete solar panel system and each specific cell, in the case of micro-inverters.

How do solar panels store electricity?

While solar panels don't store electricity, you can store excess, unused electricity in storage batteries. These storage systems are included as a part of a solar system and are installed on-site to allow gathered electricity to be used at a later date. If you have peak and slow times throughout the week, for example, you'll be able to store electricity on quieter days to use on busier days where more machinery or technology is active.

You can also choose to send excess electricity back into the grid, providing a source of income through a feed-in tariff. As all electricity is converted to DC by your inverter, this electricity is then safe and suitable for use by the Australian electricity grid.

Picking the right commercial solar installers

Whether you're clued up on solar panels or looking for a professional commercial solar design team to explain it to you, Melbourne Energy Group can help. Our highly trained team has extensive experience in commercial solar installation. If you have questions about installing solar technologies or you'd like to know more, we're here to help. Get in touch now to find out more.

Solar panel FAQs

Do solar panels work when it's rainy or cloudy?

One of the leading commercial solar benefits in Australia is our abundance of sunshine. But when it's rainy or cloudy, solar panels will still work, yet slightly less efficiently. As long as there is sunlight, solar panels are capable of generating electricity. However, the volume may vary on stormy or foggy days.

Do solar panels need to be cleaned to work?

Solar panels need to be appropriately cleaned and maintained to work correctly. This is particularly important for rural areas, where dirt and sand can damage or lower efficiency. Regular cleaning and maintenance services scheduled can keep solar panels running at their best.

How do you make sure solar panels are working?

A monitoring system is included with every commercial solar installation, allowing you to quickly see if solar panels are working as they should be. Micro-inverters can enable you to check the performance of each individual cell if needed.

Do solar panels use temperature to work?

It's a common misconception that heat makes solar panels work better. In reality, the hotter it is, the brighter the sunlight will be, leading to better electricity generation with the most photons possible.

Do solar panels have to be installed on roofing?

Many commercial businesses choose roofing for solar panels as it is the most practical option. Roofing is generally un-obstructed by higher structures and allows access to the most sun throughout the day. However, installing solar arrays in fields and unused scrubland is also a popular option to make the most of space you aren't getting anything out of.

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