How Does Solar Work?

Solar Energy Is More than Meets the Eye

You’ve been living off solar energy your whole life. The plants you eat, the Vitamin D you get from it, and the light it provides for us to live our lives is just part of what the sun can offer. This page is where you can learn about how solar energy works, and—thanks to technology—how the sun can do even more.


The Sun Does Its Work

Solar panels are made up of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. The photovoltaic effect is where electrons are emitted by a material when light hits it (“photo” meaning light and “voltaic” meaning power). When the sun shines on the PV cells, electrons start racing around.

These electrons are then directed through wires to an adapter that converts the “light power”, or solar energy, to the electricity we are all familiar with.


Electricity is Converted

Power coming out of a solar cell is Direct Current—or DC. That means solar energy electricity is more like a battery than an outlet, which is great for calculators, but bad for refrigerators. Since most electronic components in your life work with Alternating Current (AC), the solar power needs to be converted. AC electricity can safely travel longer distances and provide more power than DC.


Your Lights Come On

The converted AC solar energy is then routed back to your home or business’s electric meter—you can actually see the meter spin the other way! It’s like adding money back to your account.

Your home or business is still connected to the utility’s power lines, so you don’t have to fear cloudy days, but the electricity generated by a solar panel system offsets the amount of electricity you need from those lines.

For community solar farms, the electricity goes straight to the utility’s grid. In that case, homes and businesses enrolled in the community program get a net-metering credit applied to their bills. Again, money in the bank.

Did you know?

The space program has been using solar energy to power spaceships since 1958.

“My solar panels are helping me to save money, I’m helping to save the environment, and my neighbors keep complimenting me on how great they look—it’s a win all around.”

John D. Baltimore, MD

“With IGS Solar I had no upfront costs and immediately reaped the benefits of collecting solar energy.”

Jan A. Baltimore, MD

“IGS Solar has demonstrated true professionalism at every stage. From the beginning with the initial negotiations and through the entire project, we have been very pleased with all the work they have done. It has been a pleasure working with everyone involved.”

Mike Camara New Bedford Waste Services