Do Solar Panels Conserve Energy?

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Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic or PVs, produce electricity directly from the sun. By converting energy from the sun's rays, the use of solar panels conserves energy sources made from fossil fuels. However, few solar panel customers understand how the PV works and what it does to conserve energy.

What Are Solar Panels?

  • Essentially solar panels are groups of silicon cells used to convert light into energy. Solar panels are thin silicon cells that are grouped together into a simple frame with some wire works. The panels harness daylight and process it for human use by absorbing electrons from the sun's rays. These electrons help to extract energy from the silicon, which is unstable due to a chemical combination of boron and phosphorus combined in each cell. When the silicon heats up from the sun, it reacts with the other chemical additives and becomes unstable. Then the electrons in the sun are absorbed by the silicon and the unstable silicon elements are forced through the wires established in the panel. This becomes DC energy.

DC Versus AC

  • DC power refers to direct current energy sources that produce energy but can only direct it one way. Solar panels must be made to convert DC power, generated within the panel, into AC power, refers to alternating currents that can flow in several directions. In addition to their variety of directional currents, AC power can be manipulated via transformers to alter the current. According to the Public Broadcasting Service series, the American Experience, DC power has been replaced by AC power due to the fact that DC power can only travel a short distance before the power begins to fade and weaken.

The Power of the Inverter

  • The type of electricity produced by a PV system is DC. To be utilized in both residential and commercial settings as well as to replace and conserve power flowing through the energy grid, the power must be transformed into AC electrical currents. The U.S. Department of Energy asserts that solar systems traditionally come with a battery in which the DC power is stored prior to going to an inverter to be converted into AC power. Specifically, an inverter will convert the energy as well as synchronize the energy waves to that of the consumer's needs so that all home and office appliances work correctly.

Conservation

  • Despite the technical process that is involved in generating and converting solar energy into usable energy, PVs are still viable options for conserving fossil fuels and generating power off of the grid. For each watt of energy generated from an alternative energy source, a watt of energy made of fossil fuels is conserved.

Alternatives

  • Solar systems constitute a major step in energy conservation. However, it is essential to keep energy levels down to a minimum to effectively implement solar panels into any home or business. Solar Energy, a solar awareness organization, states that the first step in planning a solar system is to reduce the overall electricity consumption. This can be done by using energy efficient appliances and fixtures, sealing all air leaks around windows and investing in natural gas and propane major appliances.

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