How Does a Solar Panel Produce Energy?

A solar panel looks so simple to the naked eye, but how does something this thin convert sunlight to energy? To find out, let’s dig into the materials that make up a solar panel.

What are Solar Panels Made of?

Solar panels are made of several layers of material. The top layer of glass protects the individual smaller units called solar cells. Solar cells have two layers of semiconductor silicon. Silicon gathers electrons and allows them to move around through a positive and negative charge. Each solar cell is interconnected to form the solar panel.

solar panel diagram

How Does a Solar Panel Generate Power?

Solar panels use the photons produced by sunlight to generate direct current (DC) electricity. When the photons hit the panel they are absorbed by the panel’s semiconducting silicon material. During this process electrons separate from the atoms and move around the solar cell. This movement of the electrons is what generates Direct Current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity then flows to the systems inverter where it’s converted to alternating current (AC) electricity.  AC is the type of electricity needed to supply the property with power.




  • What are Solar Panels Made of? – Solar Power World
  • How Do Solar Panels Work? – Live Science
  • How Solar Electricity is Produced Using Solar Panels? – Conserve Energy Future


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