You probably have heard of solar energy before or at least seen the panels your neighbors are putting on their homes. However, what is solar energy? And how does it work? It can be impossible to search for a simple answer to these questions. There are many different terminologies. And as a result, it can be confusing trying to understand how they apply to solar energy. In this article, we explain solar energy in simple words to help you understand this renewable energy better.
What is Solar Energy?
First, solar energy begins with our friend, the sun. However, the sun does not produce electricity; it produces energy. The combination of the light and heat from the sun creates a chemical reaction within the solar panels that generates electricity. A familiar example would be energy produced from a waterfall. The electricity doesn’t come from the waterfall but the energy does. The solar panels harness this energy and convert it to electricity. Then, the electricity flow is off to the next step in powering your home.
The inverter changes the electricity that your solar panels generate into usable electricity for your home; the same electricity utility companies provide. Any surplus energy you’re not using is sent back to the utility company for credits (RSEC), which in turn, helps other homes be powered by clean energy, too!
In addition, if you choose to install a battery with your system, the surplus energy would first charge your battery before being sent to the grid. During the evening when your panels are not producing electricity, the battery will power part of your home.
The Battery Pack
A solar energy system is a collection of components which, when used together, produce electricity from sunlight that can be used for a variety of purposes. The battery(s) store this energy production for your use! Solar panels can only produce electricity when there are light and heat, so battery packs are beneficial for the evening, rainy or cloudy days, cold days, etc. There is a balance in electricity production, and the battery packs help bridge any production gap.
It’s beneficial for solar customers to be “in the know” of solar energy and how it works. Knowing this base information will better help protect consumers when it comes to purchasing. Here is a couple of tips to help utilize this information to your advantage:
Look for high-efficiency panels
The higher the efficiency percentage rating of your panels, the more electricity it will generate. Look for an 18-20% efficiency rating when purchasing solar panels.
Your panels are only as good as your inverters
Look for inverters with 25-year warranties. If your inverter goes down, essentially so do your panels. Remember, your inverter is what converts the energy to usable electricity.
Understand what you want your battery to power
The more appliances you have connected to your battery, the faster the energy will deplete from the battery. This will determine how many batteries/inverters you will need. Most systems with one battery and one inverter will power your lights, fridge, telecommunications, etc. A system with multiple batteries/inverters can potentially power your whole home. This will help establish less grid-dependency!
We know solar energy is a big investment! We hope this “solar energy in simple words” explanation was helpful as you start your journey of choosing the right type of system for your home. If you would like to see how much you can save with solar energy, try our simple Instant Quote Tool. Or call us at (925) 281 7370 to speak with one of our energy experts.