Solar 101 with Ecosmart

At EcoSmart, we love our solar panels that give us solar energy. At this point, many of us may have heard about solar, but we may not quite understand how it works. EcoSmart is here to answer your questions about solar and give you a rundown of how and why it works! 

What are solar panels made of?

We’ve seen them on neighbors’ house, or maybe we have them on your roof. But what are they made of? Let’s start with solar panel types. There are three main panel types:

  • monocrystalline panels
  • polycrystalline panels
  • thin-film panels

These panels are all made with a variety of materials and parts. The most important part is the silicon cells. Silicon, or atomic number 14, is a nonmetal with conductive properties that give it the ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Although mighty, silicon cells alone can’t provide enough electricity for your home. This is where the other materials come in:

  • Metal Casings 
  • Sand
  • Ingots
  • Wafers

These all come together to create an electrical grid that powers the panel and converts solar into electricity for your home. 

How do the panels convert sunlight into electricity?

A solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to kick electrons. This action generates a flow of electricity. Then there are the photovoltaic cells. Think of the photovoltaic as a sandwich made up of two semiconducting materials, a.k.a. silicon. Manufacturers use “dope” silicon with other materials. This gives each slice of the sandwich a positive or negative charge. This all sums up to an electric field that is pushed out of the silicon junction. And volià, you have energy! 

When do my solar panels generate the most/least energy?

Typically, your solar panels generate the most amount of energy during a sunny day between 11 am and 4 pm. You’ll also find that you’ll generate more electricity in the summer than in the winter. This is due to the long, sunny summer days and the short winter days. 

Do I need to clean my solar panels?

The answer is, it depends. In most cases, the rain will clean the majority of the dust/pollen build-up. Though, if you are experiencing a dry season or have a heavy pollen season, you may want to consider brushing off your panels if there hasn’t been any rain in a while. You can also find a local service that can come in and help you. Clean panels help preserve and maintain the panel and keep your energy bill low!

What is the largest benefit of having solar from an environmental standpoint?

By far the best benefit of having solar panels is how it benefits the environment overall. Since sunlight isn’t extracted from the land as fossil fuels are, it has less environmental impact. Solar power additionally generates far less air pollution when produced or consumed. We get power and the Earth doesn’t have to be shaken. It’s a win, win overall.

How does EcoSmart size solar for the home?

One of the largest demands on any energy grid is your home. Well, not just your home, but everyone’s home on that grid. Especially in Texas, when summer temperatures are high and everyone is turning on their AC to try to keep cool all at once. This causes a huge spike in energy demand, or a peak demand, and those can be tricky to deal with. By sizing the solar generation to cover the Ground Source Heat Pump – we remove EcoSmart-equipped homes from that equation! What’s even better is that since Ground Source Heat Pumps consume significantly less energy than a traditional HVAC, you can have smaller PV systems to the same effect!

How do solar panels play a part with EcoSmart?

Solar power energy aligns with EcoSmart’s mission to create energy-efficient communities and homes and provide homeowners with affordable, comfortable, and sustainable energy. With solar having a significantly less environmental impact than traditional energy sources. Panels are great for the environment, a great source of alternative energy and help make EcoSmart homes zero energy capable. Find out more about our energy-efficient efforts today!