Ever since 1954, when scientists at Bell Telephone discovered that silicon–an element found in sand–created an electric charge when it was exposed to sunlight, solar technology has evolved and been adopted by more than 2 million homes throughout the country. Today, solar panel systems provide a very attractive option to homes and businesses as a clean, affordable energy choice.
Thanks to the development of solar panels, we can harness the energy of an inexhaustible source of power–the sun. Solar panel systems work very simply:
- During the day, solar cells in your solar panels absorb the energy from sunlight;
- Circuits within the cells collect that energy and turn it into direct current (DC) energy;
- The DC electricity is passed through a device called an inverter to convert it to the usable alternating current (AC) electricity that comes out of your wall outlets;
- All of which means you can use that electricity in your home, store it with a solar battery, or send it back to the grid.
Interested in benefiting from solar power? Solar panels are installed at three main scales: residential, commercial, and utility. Residential-scale solar is typically installed on rooftops of homes or in open land (ground-mounted) and is generally between 5 and 20 kilowatts (kW), depending on the size of a property. Commercial solar energy projects are generally installed at a greater scale than residential solar. Though individual installations can vary greatly in size, commercial-scale solar serves a consistent purpose: to provide on-site solar power to businesses and non-profits. Finally, utility-scale solar projects are typically large, several megawatt (MW) installations that provide solar energy to a large number of utility customers.