Remember being a kid and touching the small rectangle on the corner of your calculator
with your finger, while watching the numbers dance and disappear on the top panel?
We do. What may have looked like magic then, is actually an intricate technological
process in which PV cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. This is the same
technology that solar panels use today.
What does this mean exactly? Why is it important to know? We’re here to break down
what’s behind the technology that is revolutionizing how we produce and use energy:
PV, or photovoltaic, (photo, meaning light, and voltaic, meaning electricity) cells are
groups of cells that are connected electrically and packaged into a frame, which we call
When light strikes these cells a portion of the light is absorbed by a semiconductor in
the PV panel. Usually, semiconductors are made up of silicon cells. These cells convert
photons (units of light) to electrons. The energy passed on moves the electrons around,
letting them lose and allowing them to flow freely, which turns them into DC (direct
The metal contacts that you usually see on the top and bottom of solar panels are there
so that the current can be drawn to an external one. That DC electricity then travels to
an inverter where it is turned into AC (alternating current) electricity.
After, AC electricity travels to a distribution network, which allows you to use it to power
your home. The most interesting part is that if your home generates more energy than
is being consumed, the extra electricity will get fed back into the national grid, allowing
you to receive financial rewards for the electricity your home generates.
Why is this information important? Because it’s simpler than it seems, and the more you
know the more you can understand what is happening when it’s time to do maintenance
on your solar panels. Knowledge is power; we want you to know every detail to make
sure that power always comes back to you.