Solar Roofing 101
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
As climate concerns grow, more consumers are turning to renewable energy sources. One of the fastest growing instances of renewables is solar power. Through technologies like solar roofing, homeowners can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels without much trouble.
How Do Solar Panels Work to Generate Electricity?
1. Sunlight Activates the Panels
Solar Panels work by absorbing the sunlight with photovoltaic cells. Each panel is constructed of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing surrounded by a special film, and wiring. The panels are grouped together in arrays and placed on rooftops or large outdoor spaces. Silicon is a nonmetal with conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity.
2. The Cells Produce Electrical Current
Within each solar cell is a thin semiconductor wafer made from two layers of silicon. One layer is positively charged, the other negatively charged, forming an electric field. When light energy from the sun hits a photovoltaic solar cell, it energizes the cell and causes electrons to come loose from atoms within the semiconductor wafer. Those loose electrons are set into motion by the electric field surrounding the wafer, and this motion creates an electric current.
3. Electrical Energy is Converted
The electricity now generated is called direct current (DC) electricity, which is not the type of electricity that powers most homes, which is alternating current or (AC) electricity. Fortunately, DC electricity can easily be changed into AC electricity by an inverter. In modern solar systems, these inverters can be configured as one inverter for the entire system or as individual microinverters attached behind the panel.
4. Converted Electricity Powers your Home
Once the solar energy has been converted from DC to AC electricity, it runs through your electrical panel and is distributed within the home to power your appliances. It works the same as the electrical power generated through the grid by your electrical company so nothing within the home would change.
5. A Net Meter Measures Usage
On cloudy days and overnight, your solar shingles or panels may not be able to capture enough sunlight to use for energy, conversely, they may collect surplus energy--more than needed to operate your home. That's why a meter is used to measure the electricity flowing in both directions. Your utility company will often provide credits for any surplus power you send back to the grid--known as net metering.
Here at Birmingham Roofs, we care about you and your home. If you suspect your roof is damaged or in need or repair give us a call and schedule your free estimate.