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Understanding the Basics of Solar Energy

By: Eric Huesca, SEO Content Writer
July 3, 2023

As we progress into an era dominated by renewable energy, understanding the basics of solar energy has never been more critical. This clean, abundant, and sustainable energy source is shaping our future, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and providing an affordable energy solution for millions worldwide. In this comprehensive guide, we explore solar energy, its crucial aspects such as shading, incorporating backup batteries, and its measurement unit – kilowatt. 

Photovoltaic solar panels on blue sky background

Photovoltaic solar panels on blue sky background.

Solar Energy: An Overview

Solar energy harnesses the sun’s power, turning it into a usable energy form. By using solar panels, we can capture sunlight and convert it into electricity, creating an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. This transformation has multiple stages and involves various factors, making solar energy a complex yet fascinating topic. 

Solar Panels: The Basics of Operation

Understanding the operation of solar panels is key to comprehending the fire safety measures associated with them. Simply put, solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. The panels are made up of several solar cells, usually made from silicon, which absorb sunlight. This absorption process excites electrons and generates an electric current. Solar panels are designed to withstand various weather conditions and have built-in safety features, making them safe to use. 

Understanding How Solar Energy Works

Solar Panels and Photovoltaic Cell

Solar panels comprise photovoltaic (PV) cells, which absorb sunlight, creating a flow of electrons and generating electricity. When the sun’s rays hit these cells, the absorbed light energy is transformed into electrical energy, a process known as the photovoltaic effect. 

Inverters: The Energy Converters

Once generated, this electricity, in the form of direct current (DC), needs to be converted into alternating current (AC), a form usable for most household appliances. Here’s where inverters step in, converting DC power from the solar panels into AC power. 

Net Metering and Power Grids

To further enhance solar power systems, net metering and power grids come into play. Net metering allows you to store surplus energy in the local electric grid. During the night or cloudy days, this excess energy can be retrieved from the grid, ensuring uninterrupted power supply. 

The Importance of Solar Panel Placement and Shading

Placement of solar panels is crucial in maximizing their efficiency. Since they work by absorbing sunlight, solar panels should ideally be positioned in locations receiving maximum sunlight throughout the day. 

However, factors such as trees, buildings, or even dust and debris can cause shading, which greatly affects a panel’s productivity. Even a small shadow can reduce the output of a solar panel array. Hence, a solar site evaluation is necessary to consider shading factors before installing the solar panels. 

The Value of Backup Batteries in Solar Energy Systems

With advancements in technology, solar energy systems are now equipped with backup batteries. These batteries store excess energy produced by solar panels during peak sun hours. When the solar panels aren’t generating electricity at night or during cloudy weather, these batteries supply the stored energy, ensuring a consistent power supply. 

Moreover, having a battery backup can be crucial during power outages. It provides energy independence and an uninterrupted power supply, offering peace of mind knowing you’re always powered up. 

Measuring Solar Energy: The Role of Kilowatt and Kilowatt-hour

Solar energy is typically measured in kilowatts (kW) and kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kilowatt is a unit of power, indicating the rate of energy generation or consumption, while a kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy equivalent to the power consumption of one kilowatt for one hour. 

When dealing with solar energy, kW often refers to the capacity of your solar panel system to generate power under optimal conditions. kWh, on the other hand, is the unit used by utility companies to bill customers, representing the actual amount of energy used. 

Understanding these terms and their implications can help you assess your energy needs, the performance of your solar system, and your potential savings. 


As we move towards a future fueled by renewable energy, understanding the basics of solar energy is imperative. From the functioning of solar panels and the role of inverters to the impact of shading and the importance of backup batteries and kilowatts, every aspect plays a significant part in the efficiency of a solar energy system. By harnessing solar power, we are not just saving money but also contributing to a healthier planet. The future is bright, and it’s powered by the sun. 

Remember, every day the sun shines, we have an opportunity to turn its energy into a sustainable power source. Solar energy is our pathway to a cleaner, brighter, and more sustainable world. The power is in our hands. Let’s harness it wisely. 

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Solgen Power is a solar energy contractor that sells and installs solar for homeowners. Solgen Power has been recognized by INC. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation. Solgen Power has grown nationwide and continues to provide excellent customer service to homeowners.

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Copyright © 2022 Solgen Power, All Rights Reserved