Solar panels work by capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity for your home or business.

The sun releases tiny elements of energy called photons, which travel millions of miles from the sun to Earth in less than 10 minutes.

When photons hit a solar cell, they are absorbed by a semiconductor material — silicon — and electrons are knocked loose from their atoms. Using conductors attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, an electrical circuit is formed. When electrons flow through that circuit electricity is generated.

What are Solar Panels Made of?

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are made up of many silicon solar cells. They are constructed with a positive layer and a negative layer, which together create an electric field, just like in a battery.

Solar panels are composed of multiple cells. Multiple panels (modules) can be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels you can deploy, the more energy you can expect to generate.

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

PV solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. With DC electricity, electrons flow in one direction around a circuit. For example, take a battery powering a light bulb. The electrons move from the negative side of the battery, through the lamp, and return to the positive side of the battery.

With AC (alternating current) electricity, electrons are pushed and pulled, periodically reversing direction, much like the cylinder of a car’s engine. Generators create AC electricity when a coil of wire is spun next to a magnet. Many different energy sources can “turn the handle” of a generator, such as gas or diesel fuel, hydroelectricity, nuclear, coal, wind, or solar.

AC electricity is used by the U.S. electrical power grid because it is less expensive to transmit over long distances. To convert DC electricity into the AC grid, solar panels use an inverter.

How Are SunPower Solar Panels Different?

While all solar panels essentially make energy from the sun in a similar way, not all solar panels are alike.

SunPower’s Maxeon solar cells feature solid copper backing for durability, ultra-pure silicon and a special light-trapping coating that ultimately allows the panels to produce up to 55 percent more power over time compared to conventional solar panels.

Our solar cells also are not connected with metal pasted lines. This not only makes them more attractive on your roof, it eliminates a common source of power loss or total cell failure because such metal connections are much more vulnerable to corroding and damage caused by weather and temperature changes.

We’re so confident in how well-made our solar panels are we back them up with a best-in-industry 25-year power and product warranty. 

Reach out to the SunPower by esaSolar experts today if you have questions about how solar works or if you’d like us to provide you with a free solar quote.