How do Solar Panels Work?

How do Solar Panels Work?

How do Solar Panels Work?

In the past decade or so, Solar panels have been installed in more and more homes around the UK. As it currently stands, around 4% of households in the UK have solar panels installed or are powered by solar power. That’s around 1.2 million households switching to green electricity and taking charge of their energy needs. So if you’re looking up ‘how do solar panels work?’, we might be right in assuming that you’re considering  making the switch to solar power. Or, if you just want to know a bit more about how solar panels work, we’re going to briefly explain some key points for you.

The first solar panel was invented by Charles Fritts in 1883. While his iteration of the solar panel was the closest form of solar power to the panels we use today, solar power has been used for as long as the sun has existed – AKA forever.  Fritts’ panels were coated in a thin layer of selenian and an even thinner layer of gold. This is partly due to gold being widely recognised as one of the best conductors of electricity as it remains conductive for far longer than other metals like copper or silver. His cells had an electrical efficiency conversion of only 1%, which in comparison to our rate of up to 20% is a huge difference.

Nowadays, solar panels use what are known as ‘photovoltaic cells’. ‘Photovoltaics’ refers to the conversion of light directly into electricity, usually using a semiconductor, which in this case generates DC, or direct current, which is stored and converted into AC, or alternating current, which is what our electrical appliances run on. The modern solar panel uses Silicon to create photovoltaic cells, as silicon is not only a useful semiconductor but the most abundant material on Earth after oxygen. This means that Solar Panels are not only utilising a renewable energy source, which is great for the environment in reducing carbon emissions, but they are also made of a material that is unlikely to ever be scarce!

Modern day solar panels are so effective that sometimes they can generate excess electricity, meaning they create more energy than is needed to power a home or business. In this case, all excess electricity can be sold to the grid so that no energy is wasted and making you more money, or this excess energy can be stored in batteries.

So now you know how solar panels work, why not take a look at some of our services and plans and see if they might be right for you. If you have any questions or you’re ready to dive in, please send us a request for a free quote with our easy to use form. 


Chiltern Solar Ltd

Unit 11 Anglo Business Park
Asheridge Road, Chesham, Buckinghamshire,

Phone: 01494 773400