All Solar Is Not Created Equal

What is Solar Energy?

We start by explaining how California solar panels work!

How Photovoltaic Cells Work

Many people ask, “What is solar energy?” and “How do solar panels convert sunlight into energy that I can use in my home?” This is not new technology, but with today’s concerns about global warming and the rising cost of energy produced with fossil fuels, understanding what solar energy is, how solar panels for homes and commercial buildings work and how to use the solar energy they produce, is of great importance.

How Solar Panels Work

How solar panels work is actually not that complex. Solar panels are made from silicon. Silicon ingots are sliced to form wafers, and then cut into solar cells. Solar cells are strung together to create a solar module, also known as a solar panel.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar cells absorb light to create a photovoltaic (PV) effect. The electricity created by this effect is called solar electricity. Near the top surface of a solar cell, there are two layers of semiconductor materiala positive layer and a negative layerthat make up a small electric field. The surface of a solar panel is angled toward the sun; when light falls on the surface of the solar energy equipment, some of the silicon’s electrons are knocked free by the photons in the sunlight. The electric field drives these electrons from negative to positive as a flow of electric current. This current travels through the wires in direct current (DC) to the solar inverter which converts it to alternating current (AC), which is usable by the appliances in your home or commercial building.

The efficiency of solar panels depends on the type of panels you install. Here are the three types of solar panels, in order of efficiency:


Monocrystalline – made from a single large crystal, cut from ingots. Most efficient solar panel, but also the most expensive. Somewhat better in low light conditions. Best option when amount of space is of concern.


Polycrystalline – made from cast blocks of silicon that are composed of many small crystals. Less efficient than single crystal solar panel, but effective depending on the amount of space available.


Amorphous – also known as thin film solar panels, here the silicon is spread directly on large plates, usually stainless steel. Cheaper to produce, but often much less efficient than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels (which means larger panels for the same power). Thin film solar panels are an option for locations where amount of space is not of concern.

Solar panels are covered in anti-reflective glass and sealed to protect panels from the atmosphere and shattering. There are no moving parts that can break and panels are relatively maintenance free requiring a hose down a time or two during the dry season.

How solar panels work is fairly efficient technology. Deciding which panel to use in which application is a choice based on design and space availability. Our solar power system designers can assist you in explaining how solar panels work and making recommendations based on budget and application.

We are here to educate you on California solar panels. Contact us today for more information on solar panels and solar energy. We are happy to answer your questions or send you information on how solar panels work, what solar energy is and how it can save you on your electric bills starting today!

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