These days, there has been a major push for renewable energy sources, and solar power is one of the most popular. It’s not hard to understand why: it’s inexpensive, and it’s available to anyone who has access to sunlight. This means it’s most effective in areas that get plenty of sunlight, such as Southwestern states like Arizona. Unlike some other methods of heating and cooling, solar power doesn’t require complicated or expensive equipment. To effectively harness the power of the sun, all you need are a few solar panels. Is it really that simple, though? How, exactly, do solar panels work? What processes do they exploit to generate energy? Are they really the most effective renewable energy source?

What Solar Panels Are Made Of

Solar panels are simple in appearance: they look like flat squares of dark glass. The glass is actually the top layer and serves as protection for the other layers, which are underneath. The primary material that solar panels use to convert sunlight into usable energy is silicon, which comes in several different forms. The three forms that are used for collecting solar energy are single cell (also known as monocrystalline), polycrystalline, and amorphous. Monocrystalline is made from a single crystal of silicon. It tends to be more efficient—and therefore more expensive—than polycrystalline silicon, which is made from multiple crystals that have been melted together. Amorphous is not made from crystals at all, which gives it the unique quality of being bendable. It’s most useful in thin-film solar panels. The silicon sits directly beneath the glass casing on the solar panel. Beneath that, there’s a system of wiring that transfers the electricity being generated to other parts of the home. Most solar panels also have insulation to protect them from overheating, as well as serve as a barrier against humidity and other issues that may arise.

How They Turn Sunlight into Energy

The scientific principle behind the solar panel is called the photovoltaic effect. When the sunlight strikes the conductive medium being used—the silicon—the photons excite the electrons in the material. This causes them to enter a high energy state, and this energy is then conducted, in the form of electricity, into your home, where it can be used as a reliable power source. While any substance is affected by being struck by solar energy—you can feel this effect every day when the sun heats you up—silicon is the medium used because of certain unique properties it has. Silicon only allows the electrons to be transferred in one direction, which means that the energy can be collected very efficiently. There are other materials that can do this as well, but silicon is one of the most efficient, as well as the easiest to come by, as it’s made from ordinary sand.

Are They Effective When It’s Cloudy?

The solar panels in Arizona homes are effective on most days simply because the weather is most often warm and sunny. This is true in most places where the sun is out on the majority of days. In other parts of the country, where it’s less sunny, solar panels are less efficient and may need to be combined with other methods of renewable energy.

Nevertheless, every place in the country is vulnerable to cloudy, overcast days. That’s why it’s a good idea to do some research into your state’s net metering policy. Net metering allows you to sell surplus energy generated by your home solar panels back to the state. On most days, your solar panels will generate more energy than your home ends up using. With a good net metering policy, you’ll send the surplus back to the state and receive a credit in return. Then, on days when your solar panels aren’t able to effectively generate power, you’ll be able to subtract the credit you’ve earned from the overall cost of power.

Is Solar Worth It for You?

To discover whether solar panels are the most effective method of powering your home, you should do a little research. First, take a look at your energy bill. How much are you paying monthly? In many cases, a solar power setup can save you a great deal of money. You also need to take a look at installation costs. It can be expensive to install solar panels, especially good quality ones. Nevertheless, you should be able to discover, through your research, whether you’ll save enough money over the years to make it worth it.

Needless to say, the climate in your area is a major factor in whether or not solar panels will be effective for your purposes. As we’ve mentioned above, you’ll need to be located in an area with a strong net metering program. But even with that, it’s important to note that solar panels are most effective in an area that gets a lot of sun. That is, the solar panels Arizona homes have will tend to be more effective than the ones in, for example, Alaska. The more sunny days your area has, the more energy you’ll generate through the use of solar panels.

Getting Started with Solar

The first step in going solar is to contact a company like SUNSOLAR SOLUTIONS. With the help of a company that’s experienced in the installation of solar panels, the process can be very quick and streamlined. Nevertheless, there are several steps in this process. For example, you will first need to determine if your roof is suitable for the installation of solar panels. You will also need to research laws in your area regarding the use of solar energy. In many cases, you will be able to take advantage of net metering programs as well as tax credits that are available in your area for users of renewable energy. Once you have solved all of the logistical issues, you can ask your contractor to begin the installation process for you.