How Do Solar Panels Work?

Simply put: Solar panels utilize the Sun’s energy to generate electricity.

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How Do Solar Panels Work?

Photons from sunlight are absorbed into a network of solar cells where electrons are used to create a complete electrical circuit. Since energy is absorbed from the Sun, the electricity generated from solar panels are renewable and sustainable.

What Are Solar Panels Made Of?

The most common solar panels, known as Photovoltaic solar panels (PV), consist of an array of solar cells. These solar cells are made of a silicon material - similar to the materials used in semiconductors for computer chips. Solar panels have two layers - a negatively charged layer and a positively charged one.

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

After a solar cell absorbs sunlight, the PV solar panel system generates direct current (DC) electricity. All DC means is that electrons flow in one direction, uninterrupted. Because the electrical standards in the United States call for alternating current (AC), a solar inverter is needed.

Solar Cell System Diagram

How Does a Solar Panel System Work?

All technicalities aside, a solar panel system’s energy flow is straightforward. Your rooftop solar panels absorb sunlight, that sunlight is turned into DC electricity, the direct current is sent down into your solar inverter to be changed into AC electricity, and finally, that AC current is used to power your home. That’s solar energy in a nutshell - simple, clean, and efficient.


If you’re considering going solar, you must be asking by now, “is solar energy really that simple?”

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Types of Solar Panels

As solar energy becomes a staple commodity in California, it's easy to forget that there are different types of solar panels that use different technologies and materials to generate electricity. Generally, you can split solar panel technology into 3 subgroups:

  • traditional solar panels
  • thin film solar cells
  • new solar panel technologies

Traditional Solar Panels

Traditional solar panels are what you’ll most likely see on residential roofs. These solar panels consist of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon solar cells.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline panels (Mono-SI) are made up of the purest type of silicon solar cell. Monocrystalline panels are usually darker in color and look more uniform than other traditional solar panels. The purity of the silicon used in monocrystalline solar panels makes them one of the most efficient solar panels on the market today.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are easily identified by their speckled blue-ish tones. These panels are made by melting down raw silicon which is a much faster and cheaper process than the process used for manufacturing monocrystalline solar panels. Don’t be mislead however, although these polycrystalline silicon solar panels are a more economical option than monocrystalline panels, they are still highly efficient and can be a great choice for certain situations.


Here in the Southwestern United States, we're blessed with warm sunny weather year round. But with constant heat comes constantly rising energy bills. If you're relying on an electrical company for  all your energy needs, that warm weather that we all know and love can become a curse. Don't let that happen - go solar!


At Semper Solaris, we take pride in informing our customers of the best solar panel options specific to their needs. From the second you make the call to meet with a Semper Solaris solar representative to the final touches of your rooftop solar panel installation, you’ll have peace of mind in knowing that your best interests are taken care of.

Solar panels are a fairly new technology. With new tech comes a whole list of solar related questions. If you’re considering going solar, our Semper Solaris team is ready to answer any questions you may have about the panels you’re getting and the solar installation process.


Monitoring Your Solar System

After your solar system is set up and running, you should begin monitoring your system. You will receive a notification via email that your solar monitoring is ready to be used. To monitor your solar system online, you will need to log into the system, then create your username and password. Customers should also be careful to monitor their equipment on-site as online solar monitoring systems aren't always reliable.


Below is a basic walkthrough of the most common questions regarding types of solar panels, solar manufacturers, solar installation, maintenance and financing.

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More information about Solar Panels

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