It all starts with solar panels that are usually installed on your roof. The solar panels use the UV rays from the sun to generate electricity. Solar panels work best when they are in direct sunlight - however, they do still produce electricity on cloudy and overcast days.

Solar panels produce Direct Current (DC) power, but to be able to be used for most household appliances, the power needs to be converted to Alternating Current (AC). The inverter converts the DC power so that it can be used in your home. When your solar power system is making more power than you use, the surplus electricity is generally sold back into the power grid so that it can be used by someone else. Your electricity retailer will credit you for this on your electricity bill.

Overview Of A Standard PV System

Although there exist a variety of different solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies on the market (grid-tied vs. off-grid – rooftop vs. ground-mounted), most systems adhere to the same basic format, with minor variations. Starting with the solar panels, the following outline provides an overview of how the individual parts and components of a standard PV system work together to bring you clean and free energy from the sun.

The Solar PV Panels

The solar cell is the backbone of any standard system. You’ve undoubtedly seen these signature blue or black tiles on everything from calculators to highway signs to entire rooftop systems. They capture direct sunlight, converting it into electricity via a process known as the photovoltaic effect.


These solar arrays are then securely attached to your rooftop using any number of mounting solutions. The exact mounting approach depends on the size, slope, and orientation of your rooftop. In some cases, property owners opt for ground-mounted installations if the rooftop is unsuitable for clean energy production. In some cases, property owners opt for ground-mounted installations if the rooftop is unsuitable for clean energy production.


Although the electricity captured by solar panels is direct current (DC), the vast majority of home appliances use alternating current (AC). And thus, most solar PV systems come with an inverter that safely converts DC to AC for residential and commercial use. Once the solar energy has been converted into usable AC electricity, you now have 3 options:

1. Use the electricity immediately to power your appliances
2. Store the electricity for later use
3. Feed the electricity into the utility grid to offset your energy bill

Did You Know? Solar works because when light strikes particular metals, it causes the surface of the metal to emit electrons.

This characteristic – called the photovoltaic effect – is the basis of solar power. The efficiency of a solar cell may be broken down into reflectance efficiency, thermodynamic efficiency, charge carrier separation efficiency and conductive efficiency. The overall efficiency is the product of each of these individual efficiencies.

Solar panels can generate electricity without any waste or pollution, or and the energy is entirely renewable. Solar panels have no moving parts, so they are reliable and have a long life span. Solar panels are relatively easy to install and are very low maintenance.

The efficiency of solar panels continues to increase. As research is poured into solar farms and renewable systems, the cost declines while the power increases. Solar systems now save more than they cost, which is ideal, because not only are you saving money, you are reducing your reliance on the coal-fired generator grid.