How Do Solar Panels Work? Understanding the Technology and Benefits

11th Apr 2023

Solar panels are an increasingly popular source of renewable energy that generate electricity from sunlight. If you are considering installing solar panels, it is important to understand how they work and the benefits they can provide. In this article, we will explore the technology behind solar panels and explain how they generate electricity. We will also discuss the benefits of solar panels, including reduced energy bills, decreased reliance on fossil fuels, and lower carbon footprint.

Photovoltaic cells capture sunlight

The heart of a solar panel is the photovoltaic (PV) cell, which is made of semiconductor materials, such as silicon. When sunlight hits the cell, it causes the electrons in the cell to move, generating an electric current. This process is called the photovoltaic effect.

The PV cells are connected in a series to form a solar panel. The more cells a panel has, the more electricity it can generate.

Inverters convert DC to AC

The electricity generated by the PV cells is direct current (DC) electricity. However, most homes and businesses use alternating current (AC) electricity. Therefore, the DC electricity generated by the PV cells is sent to an inverter, which converts it to AC electricity.

The inverter is typically installed near the electrical panel in the building, and it can be programmed to shut off automatically in case of a power outage.

AC electricity powers homes and businesses

Once the electricity has been converted to AC, it is sent to the electrical panel in the building. From there, it can be used to power lights, appliances, and other electrical devices.

The amount of electricity that a solar panel can generate depends on several factors, including the amount of sunlight it receives, the size of the panel, and the efficiency of the PV cells.

Excess electricity can be sent back to the grid

If the solar panels generate more electricity than is needed, the excess can be sent back to the electrical grid. The Smart Export Guarantee is a new approach for earning money from the electricity you generate. If you have a solar PV system and produce more electricity than you require, the excess will be transmitted to the grid. Through the Smart Export Guarantee, energy suppliers provide payment for every unit of electricity you export to the grid. This is a great way to offset the cost of electricity when the sun is not shining.

The Smart Export Guarantee League Table reveals which suppliers are offering the best rates*.

*Source: Solar Energy UK

Benefits of solar panels

Installing solar panels offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Reduced energy bills: By generating your own electricity from solar power, you’ll reduce your reliance on grid electricity and save money on your energy bills.
  • Decreased reliance on fossil fuels: Solar panels provide a clean, renewable source of energy that doesn’t produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Lower carbon footprint: By installing solar panels, you’ll be doing your part to help fight climate change and reduce your carbon footprint.

The Future of Solar Panels

Solar panels are a clean, renewable source of energy that can help reduce a homeowner’s reliance on traditional grid electricity. With proper installation and maintenance, solar panels can provide a reliable source of electricity for many years to come. 

By harnessing the power of the sun, homeowners can save money on their energy bills and help protect the environment. As technology continues to advance, we can expect solar panels to become even more efficient and affordable. This makes them an even more attractive option for homeowners.

Get in touch today

We'll get back to you within 24 hours.

Reaching out to Sheerwater Solar is straightforward and hassle-free. Whether you’re interested in solar panels for your home or business in Woking, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. You can contact us directly by calling 01932 627 555 or by sending an email to

Alternatively, fill in our online form for a swift response.

What happens next?

In most cases, we’ll need to conduct an on-site survey at your property to assess the feasibility and provide you with a tailored quote. This visit allows us to understand your specific needs and explore the potential for renewable energy solutions. Following the survey, we’ll discuss the best options for integrating solar energy into your property, including detailed costs and the installation process.

We’re excited to assist you on your journey to renewable energy and look forward to hearing from you.