Solar 101: How Solar Panels Work

November 2, 2022

More and more Australians are making an investment in solar panels, which harvest Australia’s natural sunlight to power homes and businesses. At the same time, solar helps reduce electricity costs and environmental detriments – so it’s no wonder why isn’t becoming such a popular alternative to electricity.

If you’re interested in solar panels but want to learn a bit more about how they work, read on – in this handy Solar 101, we unpack everything from the way solar panels convert light into electricity, to the benefits of a battery system.

Table of Contents
Man Installing Solar Panel On Roof

Converting Sunlight Into Electricity: The Basics

There’s a sequence of events that takes place when solar panels transform sunlight into electricity. This process usually covers five key steps.


First, sunlight hits the solar panels placed on rooftops – it goes without saying that this step is crucial to the whole process.

People interested in solar panels sometimes wonder whether their panels will still generate electricity on cloudy days. The good news is yes! Photovoltaic cells only require sunlight to produce energy, and this light doesn’t need to be direct – although, with that being said, direct sunlight does mean panels will produce more energy, and you might find your electricity levels drop a little in winter. As almost 200,000 terawatts of solar power are transmitted to the earth constantly, cloud cover poses no threat at all to solar energy.

Photovoltaic Cells

Solar Inverter

After this current has been generated, a solar inverter converts electrical energy into usable AC electricity. The solar inverter is the backbone of the solar panel – as, without it, any generated electricity would be unsuitable for domestic use. Some people choose a single inverter to manage all their solar panels or opt for individual units to manage each panel separately. If you have several panels, it might be better to provide each with its own inverter, as relying on a single inverter could cause it to be overrun.

Electricity For Use

The electricity which has been generated can be used to power your home or business. During the day you can choose when you’d like your solar panel to produce energy, and you can also use energy during the night if you’ve stored it through a battery. Some people wonder whether they need to make changes within their homes to account for a solar panel. The answer is no; solar energy is exactly the same as the energy derived from your local grid and using solar energy won’t disconnect you from the grid altogether. If you still need or want to use electricity from time to time, you have that option.

Your inverter will be able to tell you whether your panel is creating energy – if the day’s simply not bright enough or if there’s something wrong with your set-up or wiring, you’ll see a red light. When energy is generated, the inverter will display a green light.

Rebates On Electricity

Solar Power And Solar Energy: The Difference

The technology that converts the sun’s rays into electricity is known as solar energy. This includes solar panels, but also solar water heating, air conditioning, and industrial process heat. Solar power, on the other hand, means converting the sun’s rays into electricity, through photovoltaics, solar troughs, solar dishes or engines, or solar power towers.

On-Grid Solar System

When you install solar panels, you’ll have the option to choose between on-grid and off-grid systems. On-grid solar options are those in which any excess electricity that your system generates is sent back through the energy grid to the Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP). There are particular advantages of such a system.

  • Installation’s a breeze: As they don’t need any extra components apart from those that produce electricity to be used, on-grid solar systems are pretty easy to install.
  • Minimal maintenance: They also don’t need much in the way of maintenance beyond check-ups from time to time.
  • Get paid for giving back: What’s more, you might qualify for a feed-in tariff from your retailer, in which you’ll be paid a rebate when you send excess solar back to the grid.

At the same time, there are disadvantages:

  • Left unprotected: As you’re still connected to the grid, the risk of blackouts or power outages doesn’t go away even if you have solar.
  • Environmentally-(un)friendly: While solar’s a renewable energy source, as you’re still connected to the grid you’ll use traditional energy sources, which might not be good for the environment.

Off-Grid Solar System

  • Self-sufficiency at its best: Your home or business will be able to support its own energy needs without any obstacles.
  • Harvest your own electricity: Remove your reliance on the grid with off-grid systems and generate your own power.
  • Enjoy power even in an outage: When the grid fails, your power won’t.

There are some disadvantages, though:

  • Counting the costs: As off-grid systems do require batteries and generators, they tend to cost more.
  • Monitoring maintenance: As you have independent solar, you’re responsible for maintaining upkeep.

Considering Going Solar? Go With Apollo Solar

Cut your power bills and be friendly to the planet when you invest in high-quality, affordable solar panels from the team at Apollo Solar. We accommodate on-grid and off-grid clients, and also offer outstanding hybrid systems and battery storage to meet your needs. Servicing Brisbane, Townsville and surrounds, Apollo Solar commits to fantastic products and even better customer service. Give us a call today or send us an online enquiry.