How Do Solar Panels Work?

how do solar panels work palm coastIf you or your neighbors have a rooftop solar energy collection system, you may be wondering how do solar panels work. It’s a fairly sophisticated process that took many years for scientists and researchers to perfect so people can experience the many benefits that renewable and unlimited solar energy offers. 

Unfortunately, it’s also a fairly sophisticated process that few people would understand if it was explained in highly technical terms. So we will try to break down the process of how solar panels work into more Layman’s terms.

The History of Solar Panels

As far back as the Roman Empire, collecting the sun’s energy was used to heat the famous Roman bathhouses. It was not until 1839 that a researcher named Alexandre Edmond Becquerel found that certain substances when they absorbed sunlight produced an electrical charge. This led to the first crude and inefficient solar panel being assembled a few years later. Over the years this technology has been greatly perfected to become the highly efficient and more cost-effective solar panels that are found all over the world on rooftops and as part of solar farms today. 

What is a Solar Panel? 

Any discussion about how do solar panels work would not be complete without describing how solar panels are built. Solar panels are made up of several solar cells or what’s more appropriately called photovoltaic cells. The main ingredient in most efficient solar cells at this time is silicon, but it’s also becoming trendy nowadays to substitute organic materials and what are known as Perovskites into the process. A solar panel has three main layers in its construction. There is a protective outer layer that lets the sunlight easily into the solar panel, a silicon-coated semiconductor layer that helps to convert the absorbed sunlight into electricity, and a reflective lower layer that also adds outer protection to the panel. The design of solar panels is constantly being improved to make them as efficient at energy harvesting as possible.

The Photovoltaic Process

Now that you know the basic construction of solar panels, it’s time to learn how do solar panels work. It’s very amazing when one realizes just how the process of creating energy from sunlight plays out. This transformation that takes place in solar cells is what’s called the ‘photovoltaic’ process. There are two types of semiconductors found in each solar cell which help to create an electric field. This field enables negatively charged particles to move in one direction and positively charged particles to move in another. 

Each ray of sunlight that comes down to earth is composed of photons or what some would term little bundles of electromagnetic energy. When sunlight hits the silicon-coated semiconductor setup in a solar panel an energy transformation takes place from the photons in the sunlight to the silicon material in the unit. This puts the material that coats the semiconductor into an ‘excited state’. Once in this excited state, the semiconductor in a solar cell then produces an electric current. 

Solar Panel Arrays

Although solar panel efficiency has been greatly improved over the years, it still takes several solar panels working together to produce a significant amount of energy. This group of solar panels that work in conjunction is called an array. Solar arrays can be as small as a few solar panels in size on a home energy collection setup or as big as the thousands of panels that make up solar collection farms. These systems are becoming more practical as their efficiency improves and the cost and functioning of solar storage batteries get better too. 

Residential Solar Panels in Palm Coast, FL

How do solar panels work? Though the long explanation might seem a bit complicated, it all boils down to the many benefits of using solar. It is essentially free energy you can get from the sun. Learn more about it and get expert solar electric, solar water heater, and solar pool heating installation from Wayne’s Solar! We service Palm Coast, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, New Smyrna Beach, and many more areas in Florida. Call us at 386-673-9720 to get a free quote! 


Wayne’s Solar offers free solar consultations to determine the very best solar investments for your unique situation. This will help you to determine the cost savings that you can realize from a solar investment for your home or business. We can also show you how you can monitor the performance of your solar product in real-time! Schedule your consultation today, and take the first step to a green energy future today!