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Producing and Storing: How Do Panels Do It?

By now, it is common knowledge that solar panels do indeed harness the sun and enable your home to run off of the suns energy, but how? At one point, this would’ve seemed impossible and honestly somewhat crazy, but along with the rest of modern technology, it is very possible and even becoming more and more affordable. Solar panels may not look very complicated with their flat, black-ish dark blue exterior, but there is a lot going on under the surface.

Panels are traditionally and commonly made from silicon and while this is not a rare substance — and actually a naturally occurring element — it can be a pricey process to create the silicon crystals necessary for the production of solar panels. Because of this, it has become more common to find the panels made from CIGS — copper indium, gallium, and selenide — which are similar, but provide more reasonable costs.[1]

Because solar panels absorb sunlight and not the heat from the sun, the system uses Photovoltaic, or PV, cells to convert the light rays into energy. The actual scientific process that happens under the glass surface is the silicon (or other CIGS material) cells have electrons that get into an excited state when combined with the photons from the sun’s rays, creating direct current (DC) electricity; but what allows this to happen? Inside the panel, there is a metal plate that acts as a conductor to trap the sun energy and then allows it to travel through wires to an object called a fused array combiner. The combiner is what leads us to the last step when all the magic happens. The energy is sent through an inverter which takes the current electricity and alternates the electrical current into a usable power source.

The inverter is truly the star of the solar panel system because without it, your home would not be able to utilize all of that energy that your panels worked so hard to convert. The DC electricity that is produced within the panels in the process of harnessing the sun’s energy is converted into AC (alternating current). The device “inverts” or in other words, translates, the solar energy into AC so that it is in a usable form of electricity for your home or utility grid. This is all great information, but a major aspect of solar panels for a home is their ability to store energy so it is available when needed by the household. The storing action takes place in the solar battery which is also the last step in the process besides the electricity physically being used by the homeowner.

An easy way to remember how this process works is by breaking it down; the panel harnesses, the inverter inverts or translates, the battery stores and the utility grid provides the energy so that the home can use. The process may seem complicated and consist of terminology that is new to you, but that’s ok because the solar panels know what they’re doing and will do all the work.


___________________________ Solar Opportunities is a Full-Service Solar Consultation, Design and Install company services Pennsylvania. Our cutting edge design platform enables inquiring minds to access all the information they need to know in a clear, transparent fashion in a short amount of time. Systems can be designed from satellite imagery for residential, commercial and agricultural properties. For more information, visit us at, email us at or call us at 570-637-6384.

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