How Solar Power Works
Thinking about going solar?
Here’s your solar power guide from SEM Power.
What is solar power?
The sun doesn’t just provide warmth and light – it’s also a source of energy.
Solar energy (or solar power) is the energy we generate from sunlight. Through a process known as the photovoltaic effect, we can convert energy from the sun’s rays into electricity that can power our homes or entire commercial and industrial businesses.
What are solar panels made of and how do they work?
Solar cells are made primarily from silicon, a chemical element with conductive properties. Exposure to light changes silicon’s electrical characteristics, which generates an electric current. It takes multiple panels to provide power to a typical home or business. A collection of panels in your system is called an array. Panels wired into the same inverter are known collectively as a string of panels. (Inverters have a maximum string size – an upper limit to the number of panels they can support.)
What are the parts of a solar energy system?
There are other key components to a solar system aside from the panels themselves.
To generate your own energy, you need a complete solar power system. The essential components are:
- Solar Panel, to capture energy from the sun
- An inverter, to convert that energy to a format that can power our power demand
- Racking, the foundation on which you mount your system
You also need a method to store the energy generated by the panels. If you have access to power grid, this doesn’t require additional equipment. It can simply be fed into the utility grid and used later.
SEM Power includes monitoring equipment for our customers to be able to actively view system performance and energy demand offset.
We strongly encourage our customers to add a battery system with any new solar installation to offset financial burden and to keep power available even when the grid is not in service.
How much do solar panels cost?
For decades, people have used solar panels to generate electricity. These devices are not only low-cost investments but also can save you money on your electric bill in a number of ways: firstly by generating power during the day when it’s sunny and there is no need for artificial lighting; secondly through rebates offered by local authorities that could make up as much of 60% off the cost if installation costs; thirdly lowering energy bills due to lower electrical rates for those using renewable energies compared so traditional brownouts which result from peak hours.
The great news is that Florida has one of the lowest average costs for solar panel systems in the U.S.
How much do solar panels save on your electric bill?
In the words of Nikola Tesla, “The question is not ‘how much can this save me?’ but rather how would my life be different without it?”
When considering investing in a solar panel system, remember that you are locking in your utility costs for the life of your system.
The cost of residential electricity has increased 30% over the last 10 years. As these rates continue to rise, so will the potential savings! Solar essentially helps to lock in your energy prices; protecting yourself from utility rate increases by generating your own power.
Solar panel systems generate energy that can last decades. While calculating your potential solar savings, it’s important to take into account both short term advantages (year 1) and long-term considerations such as life expectancy on each individual component in order truly appreciate what these systems have done for consumers who now enjoy renewable pricing.
How long do solar panels last?
Most manufacturers guarantee under warranty that their panels will be at least 80% efficient for 25 years.
When the warranty is up, the panels don’t break down. They simply keep working at a reduced output. A panel that is rated at 300 watts, for example, would still produce 240 watts of output at the 25-year mark! Panels tend to be extremely reliable. A study by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) showed that over 75% of panels outperformed their warranty.