How Does Solar Energy Actually Work? - Renewable Energy NW LLC
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How Does Solar Energy Actually Work?

How Solar Power Works

While many of us understand that we can turn the sun into our own personal power station, few of us know how that happens. Renewable Energy NW wants you to have a better understanding of how the radiation of the sun is converted into power, both through photovoltaic panels and evacuated solar tubes.


93 million short miles from us we have a large nuclear reactor called the Sun! This reactor sends photons to Earth and takes a little over eight minutes to get here. According to American Energy Independence, an independent publisher of articles, commentary, investigative reports, film documentaries, and current news about America’s journey to energy independence, every hour, the sun radiates more energy onto our planet than the entire human population uses in an entire year!


The photons sent from the Sun are forms of energy that can be converted to electricity. The electrons are removed from their atoms when they hit a solar cell and form an electrical circuit through conductors attached to the negative and positive sides of the cell. When these electrons flow through the circuit, they create electricity. This one small process can be multiplied many times over to create the amount of electricity needed to perform certain tasks. The same is true for solar thermal hot water applications. The process can be multiplied as many times as necessary to create the amount of water needed for any size project, from a residential application to large commercial projects.


The typical photovoltaic (PV) panels that most people are familiar with are constructed of silicon and made up of many of these smaller solar cells. By linking panels together, you end with a viable working option for generating electricity, which can be used to power your everyday electrical requirements.


Like the PV panels in their ability to convert solar radiation into usable electrical energy, the evacuated tube solar collector is used in solar water heating systems. The evacuated tube absorbs the solar energy and converts it in a vacuum between two glass layers that are designed to prevent heat loss. The round design of these tubes makes them more efficient throughout the day as no mechanical tracking of the sun is needed to maintain full sun exposure throughout the day. A circulation pump moves the heated liquid to a solar storage tank where it can be used for any number of tasks…heating pools, hot tubs, cleaning, etc.

If you are considering adding renewable energy to your home, consider solar power. The Boise area is seeing an influx of population and is growing rapidly. You can do your part to help relieve some of the stress on our power grid by switching to solar power whenever possible. If you have questions, call the RENW team today at 208-577-6537 for a free solar site survey and see what the Sun can do for you!