Basics of Solar

Come learn the basics of solar with us! Discover how sunlight is converted to energy and how it's delivered to your home.

How Solar Works

A Basic Overview

Converting Sunlight to Energy

The energy conversion process has always fascinated us. So to begin, we start with sand, particularly the Silicon in the sand. When solar cells are formed they are formed with pure silicon that is doped with impurities such as phosphorous or boron to create N-Type and P-Type cells, respectively. This creates the crucial positive and negative differential needed for the energy in photons to push electrons from the N-Type side to the P-Type side, thus creating a steady flow of electrons, or electricity. This technology was originally discovered by nineteen-year-old French physicist Edmund Becquerel, while experimenting with an electrolytic cell made up of two metal electrodes. Since then the technology has been developed and refined to be the efficient powerhouse that it is today. Thanks Edmund!

Energy Inversion

Now that we have our steady flow of electrons, or electricity, its time to convert it into a form your home can use. This is what's called Inversion. When your solar modules generate energy, it's generating DC or Direct Current electricity. Unfortunately, thanks to Nikola Tesla, your home does not run on DC, but on AC or Alternating Current. So when the energy comes from your panels, in order to use that energy, we must convert it from DC to AC. There are a few different types of inverters that are common in the industry today, Central Inversion and Micro Inversion. There are a few crucial differences between these two processes, essentially location of inversion, and the effect this has on the efficiency of the panels. Here we will go into the difference between the two inversion processes as well as some analogies to help you visualize what is really going on.

  • Centralized inversion was the first type of inversion process that was available. This process takes the DC current coming directly from the panel, wired in series, down the side of your home, into a DC disconnect, into the inverter, to an AC disconnect, and finally into your breaker panel and into your home or business. Because the modules are wired in series, power generation can be thought of as an old set of Christmas lights, if one bulb goes out, the whole string goes out. This makes centralized inversion less desirable when there is unavoidable shading on some of your modules. Another reason why we take special care in the design, and placement of your solar energy system.

  • MicroInversion is a term that you have probably have read about in your research. It refers to a newer type inversion method that takes place right at the source, the solar module itself. This process converts the DC power that your modules generate and converts it to AC power right at the module, eliminating the inefficiencies and downfalls of centralized inversion. Think of a newer set of Christmas lights, when one bulb goes out, the rest of the string still shines bright.

  • After Inversion

    Once the energy is converted to AC, it simply is wired into your breaker with respect to National Electrical Code or NEC. Your home or business is now literally running off of the sun. What a fantastic world we live in where we can pull useful energy from our infinitely renewable resource, the sun. Because the majority of electrical work for most homes have already been done it is easy to wire in the energy generated by the Solar Modules. But now you might be asking yourself, "What happens at night?" or "What happens to the excess energy that my system will generate?"

    Back to the Grid

    For all intents and purposes, you can think of the grid as your own personal Solar Energy Storage System. When the sun is at its peak, and your Solar System is generating energy at its maximum, you are producing more energy that you are using. But where does that energy go? Back to the grid! Yes the energy that you produce in excess goes right back to the grid through your meter, your meter tracks how much goes in and come out of your system, creating a net balance "Bank" that you essentially deposit and withdrawal energy from. This allows you to supply energy to other homes that are wired to the grid when you are generating more than you need, and use that credited energy when your system isn't producing, like at night.

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