How do solar panels work?

Our guide simplifies solar technology, explaining how solar panels work in under 5 minutes.

Our guide breaks down solar technology, offering a simple explanation of how solar panels work within just 5 minutes.

Ever wondered about the environmental impact of your home? It turns out our homes contribute a whopping one-fourth to our carbon footprint. Tackling emissions from homes is no small feat, but here's where solar panels come into play. The rising popularity of solar panels isn't just a trend; it's a smart move. By integrating solar panels, households can decrease emissions, slashing up to a tonne of CO2 annually! Picture this: a green investment that not only helps the planet but also trims your energy bills significantly each year.

Finding the perfect solar panel system can be tricky with so many options out there. But don't worry, we've got your back! We're here to break down everything you need to know, from the basics to the nitty-gritty, all in just five minutes or less!

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

Solar panels harness the power of Photovoltaic (PV) material, converting light energy into practical electricity. These marvels often go by names like Solar PV, Photovoltaic panels, or simply PV panels. The electricity yield is reliant on sunlight intensity – the bolder and brighter the sun, the more robust the electricity production from these panels. 

A crucial distinction lies in recognising that solar panels operate differently from Solar Thermal panels, exclusively designed for the task of heating hot water. PV panels steal the show by generating electricity, while Solar Thermal panels heat up water.

Do solar panels produce AC or DC electricity?

The power generated by solar panels is in the form of direct current (DC), while our homes operate on alternating current (AC). Therefore, to harness solar energy efficiently at home, we rely on a solar inverter - a compact device resembling a small suitcase, usually discretely installed in inconspicuous locations such as the loft or under the stairs. The size of the inverter corresponds to the magnitude of the solar system; larger setups require more substantial inverters to handle the solar power influx effectively.

This essential component ensures the seamless integration of solar energy into your household electricity supply, optimising both the benefits of renewable energy and your environmental impact. By converting DC to AC, the inverter ensures that the electricity produced by your solar panels aligns perfectly with the needs of your home, providing a consistent and reliable power source.

How Many Watts Do Solar Panels Produce Per Hour?

Solar panels, whether operating independently or as part of a solar system, are evaluated based on their power output, expressed in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). This rating serves as a gauge for the electricity they can generate under optimal conditions.

When contemplating an investment in solar panels, it's imperative to consider this power output. This metric determines the system's electricity generation capacity, significantly influencing its efficiency and potential impact on reducing your energy expenses.

You can estimate your potential solar panel output using our tool.

When it comes to solar panels, their power output capacities vary significantly. Take, for instance, our offerings, with panels proudly boasting an impressive 365W output each. Imagine this: choosing a set of 10 panels translates to a combined maximum output of 3650W, a robust equivalent to 3.65kW, ushering in a wave of sustainable power for your property.

Is Energy Storage Possible with Solar Panels?

While solar panels themselves don't have the ability to store energy, there's a smart solution to maximise their benefits - enter solar batteries. These nifty devices work hand in hand with your solar panels, diligently storing surplus energy generated during the day. When the sun sets or during unexpected power outages, these batteries kick in, providing a reliable source of energy.

This seamless collaboration not only boosts your energy independence but also adds an extra layer of security to your power supply. It's like having a backup plan that ensures you stay powered up even when the sun takes a break. 

How Much Energy Does A Solar Panel Produce?

Have a look below for a few more examples of how much energy different amounts of solar panels could produce.

Size of panel, Number of panels & Maximum output:

  • 365W, 1 panel, 0.365kW
  • 365W, 12 panels, 4.380kW
  • 365W, 14 panels, 5.110kW
  • 365W, 16 panels, 5.840kW
  • 365W, 17 panels, 6.205kW

It's crucial to be aware that if the anticipated peak output of your solar system exceeds 4.68 kW, obtaining approval from your local District Network Operator (DNO) is mandatory. The good news is, when you schedule an installation with us, we take care of the application process on your behalf. However, if you opt to handle the application independently, you can locate your specific DNO for the submission process by clicking here

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels generally last for at least 25 years. This remarkable track record, though, is shaped by the distinctive qualities of each panel type and a multitude of external factors. 

Check out our solar panel efficiency guide to uncover the intricacies that contribute to the enduring performance of solar panels and arm yourself with insights for a sustainable energy future.

Is it necessary to notify my electricity provider about my solar panel installation?

In short, yes you do. 

Informing your electricity supplier is crucial when you install solar panels. This is essential to comply with regulatory requirements or access available incentives. Additionally, depending on your location, there could be specific technical specifications and safety standards that your solar panel system must meet.

What's The Difference Between Mono & Poly?

The crucial element for generating electricity in solar panels, known as photovoltaic material, is crafted from silicon crystals derived from abundant sand. This material can be manufactured through two primary methods: the first involves cutting it from a single "slab," a process known as monocrystalline (mono), while the second involves melting and remoulding a cluster of silicon crystals, resulting in what is known as polycrystalline (poly). 

Monocrystalline panels typically showcase higher efficiency, converting sunlight at impressive rates ranging from 15% to 22%. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels, while slightly less efficient, still offer commendable conversion rates, ranging from 13% to 18%. These variations in production methods and efficiency rates provide consumers with choices tailored to their specific energy needs and budget considerations.

The diversity in manufacturing processes not only results in panels with varying efficiencies but also brings forth different cost considerations. Typically, mono-crystalline panels are priced slightly higher compared to their poly-crystalline counterparts.

On the other end of the spectrum, thin-film panels, crafted from Cadmium-Telluride, emerge as the most cost-effective option. However, they do come with a trade-off—lower efficiency compared to traditional silicon-based panels. Given their "thin-film" nature, these panels exhibit flexibility and lightness, making them perfect for applications such as rooftop panels on camper vans or on rooftops not designed for additional weight, like those of large commercial properties such as warehouses.

For most household applications, whether mono or poly-crystalline silicon panels, these options are generally the most suitable choices, providing a balance between efficiency, cost, and practicality.

Recommended Guide: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost In The UK?

How Long Does A Solar Power Installation Take?

Typically, when you're getting solar panels installed at home, the whole process wraps up in just one day. This means you can enjoy the benefits of solar energy without any long wait times or major disruptions to your daily life.

What is the process of getting solar panels?

Our process is extremely straightforward, if we may say so ourselves:

1. Spend 5 minutes on our platform (you’ll find the MakeMyHouseGreen platform here) and we’ll give you an accurate understanding of how much money and carbon you can save, as well as an estimation of the cost of solar panel installation.

2. Your solar panels quotes are just a click away with: “Get quote”!

3. Book a call with a Green Homes Guru, your own money saving expert on everything solar panels, who will then provide detailed options for you and your home.

4. Book a remote survey to finalise details.

5. Book the install.

6.Make your own electricity!

Now equipped with expert knowledge in solar panels, you're well-positioned to make the optimal choice for your solar energy system. Your understanding of various panel types, efficiency factors, and installation considerations empowers you to make informed decisions, ensuring your system aligns seamlessly with your energy goals. Embrace the power of solar with confidence, knowing you've made a choice that not only benefits your home but also contributes to a sustainable and greener future. Discover more about other aspects of solar systems in our related articles. 

Our extensive content ensures you have a thorough understanding of all elements associated with solar systems. but if you have any questions in the meantime, check out our Guru FAQS or drop us an email via

Recommended Guides:

- Are solar panels worth it in the uk?

- How many solar panels will fit on my roof?

- Do smart metres work with solar panels?

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February 14, 2024
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