What Type of Energy is Used by a Solar Panel?

What Type of Energy is Used by a Solar Panel? 

What type of energy is used by a solar panel? If you’re thinking about slashing your electricity bills and tackling the rising cost of living, this might be a question you’ll have asked yourself. In recent years, many countries have made commitments to a greener future. By the end of the decade, the Irish government intends to source at least 80% of its electricity needs from renewable sources. One of these renewable sources will be the sun. The type of energy used by solar panels from the sun is called solar energy.

This may seem like a tall order, requiring around 250,000 rooftop solar installations over the next decade. However, with climate change a more immediate risk than ever before, there’s never been a more urgent time for us all to consider making the switch to greener alternatives.  

Fortunately, solar panel installation is more practical and cost-effective than you might think. Whether you’re searching for solar panels in Limerick or seeking out PV installation further afield, Wizer Energy is on hand to help you join the green revolution. What’s more, you can slash the cost of reducing your carbon footprint with SEAI grants on hand to help lighten the load.  

What type of energy is used by a solar panel?

What Type of Energy is Used by a Solar Panel? 

Solar panels in Ireland are an efficient choice for anyone looking for a cheap and renewable energy source. Domestic and commercial PV systems directly convert natural sunlight into usable AC energy. This includes every type of electromagnetic radiation, including ultraviolet rays, heat, and, of course, light itself.  

In most cases, solar technology uses photovoltaic (PV) systems to handle the conversion of raw energy into usable power. However, on a larger scale, mirror arrays that concentrate sunlight can also be used. PV solar energy directly converts solar radiation into electricity. Once these cells are exposed to direct sunlight, they ionise, releasing electronics that immediately react with each other. This then produces an electrical current.  

Regardless of what type of energy a solar panel uses, the result is the same. Once energy is created by solar technology, it can quickly be used to generate electricity to power all everyday applications or divert surplus energy into thermal or battery storage for later use. These days, excess energy can also be reverted into the grid, which can then be sold to energy suppliers for a small premium called a REFIT tariff. 

What is solar energy?

In short, solar power refers to the energy captured from sunlight that is then transformed into usable electricity that can be used to power everything from everyday appliances to industrial processes. Solar power is incredibly efficient, using PV cells to capture sunlight directly. Once captured, this sunlight is then converted into electricity.

Although photovoltaic energy is the most common form of solar power in everyday settings, solar technology has broader applications. As well as capturing and converting sunlight, solar panels can use the thermal energy delivered by the sun to create electricity. Reflectors and concentrators are used in the capture and conversion of thermal energy. Although not as widespread as domestic and commercial PV systems, they can be put to good use in residential and industrial settings.  

What type of energy is used by a solar panel is something you should consider if you’re thinking about seasonal use. Thermal-based solar panel systems can be used to heat homes during the colder months as well as provide efficient water-heating alternatives to boiler systems.

As well as subsidising the main energy needs of everyday homes and businesses, both types of solar energy can be used to supply secondary electricity needs. This includes everything from security lighting to pond filters and water pumps, as well as things like infrared heaters and EV chargers.

How does solar energy work?

What Type of Energy is Used by a Solar Panel? 

Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to absorb sunlight. It is a common misconception to assume that sunnier climates are better for solar PV than Ireland, but this is not true. Solar PV works best in temperate climates, with efficiencies improving in cooler environments than in hot, tropical, typically sunnier areas. Once air temperatures go above 25 degrees Celsius, inverters lose efficiency, so Solar panels in Cork might prove more efficient than those installed somewhere like South America or the Sahara Desert. The sunlight absorbed from PV panels is then converted into direct current (DC) energy.

This DC energy is then converted into alternating current (AC) energy, which, combined with essential components called inverters, provides you with a usable energy source for everyday applications. AC energy then passes through an electrical panel that can be distributed throughout your home or business premises.  

When it comes to manufacturing solar cells, silicon is the preferred material. Unlike other materials, silicon excels when it comes to heat and electricity conduction. Sunlight, or more specifically, photons, is what drives the so-called photovoltaic effect. Photons that reach the surface of a domestic solar panel are loaded with the same levels of energy as when they leave the surface of the sun itself. Once photons come into contact with a solar panel, this energy is then directly transferred into the silicon.

This process produces direct current (DC), although everyday electrical appliances like televisions and fridges require alternating current (AC) to function. It’s an inverter that carries out the necessary conversion, turning DC into 240-volt AC to power those essential appliances.

What are the advantages of solar energy?

Now that you know what type of energy is used by a solar panel, it’s time to consider the benefits of this green alternative to conventional fossil fuels. For one, solar power is a wholly renewable energy source. Users can also enjoy significant cost-saving benefits. Once installed, a solar energy system will yield major savings on energy bills.

In fact, you can realise savings of up to 75% on your energy costs per year. When you consider that the average annual electricity bill in Ireland is around €2,120, making the switch to solar-powered solutions is an obvious choice. Investing in solar technology also safeguards you against future energy price hikes. As well as immediate cost-saving benefits, you can pocket extra money by selling unused energy back to the grid.  

We always get asked, are solar panels worth it in Ireland? Absolutely. Minimal maintenance is required, with a typical array only requiring cleaning once every six months to remain in optimal condition, which is a service delivered for free by our rainy climate. Panels require no other maintenance. You don’t even need to worry that much about replacement parts; the key component here is the inverter, which may need replacing eventually, but the average inverter should perform well for anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

Are solar panels worth the investment?

Solar panel technology is incredibly effective, directly converting ultraviolet radiation (be it light or thermal energy) into electrical current for use in residential or commercial premises.

Solar panel systems are easily installed. Most homes can enjoy a significant reduction in energy costs with as few as six rooftop panels. For businesses, the cost-saving benefits can be even more substantial. As well as future-proofing against rising energy costs, adopters of solar panel technology can secure extra income by selling surplus energy back to the grid. Alternatively, surplus energy can be diverted into thermal storage or batteries for future use.

Speak to the Solar Panel Installation Experts 

Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy? Wondering how to clean solar panels ? At Wizer Energy, our expert team is on hand to guide you through all the questions you might have about solar panel technology.  

How much energy does a solar panel produce? How long does a solar panel last in Ireland? Whether you’re looking for solar panels in Waterford or elsewhere in Ireland, our team can provide you with all the insights you’ll ever need.

Ready to get a handle on your energy bills? Now’s the time to embrace solar panel technology. If you’re interested in solar panels in Dublin or looking for PV installation elsewhere in Dublin, get in touch with the team at Wizer Energy today.

As well as solar panel installation, we’re also the go-to supplier of green alternatives, like infrared alternatives. Looking for an installer for a Zappi charger in Ireland? We can help. Drop us a message via the online form or give us a call at +353 87 753 0066 or +353 83 080 0855 today.

Author Bio

Martin Desmond

Martin is the Managing Director of Wizer Energy, with 30 years of experience in commercial and industrial electrical work. He has won awards in the commercial wiring arena and went on to study and train as an electrical engineer, preparing a PhD study in the area of Future Smart Microgrids. Since the late 1990s, Martin has had a keen interest in green and renewable energy, now utilised by working in the solar panel industry. After a life-changing injury from a fall at a height in 2007, Martin overcame it with a voltage generator embedded within his body. Being a qualified electrician since the 90’s, an electrical engineer since 2012, and utilising electricity generated within his own body, it’s hard to get more electrically qualified!

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