Your local force in solar

How Do Solar Panels Work?

When solar panels are installed, the panels collect sunlight and turn it into an electrical current. The current runs through your very own inverter and is then used as energy to power your property.

The Science behind Solar

Solar panels collect sunlight and convert it into an electrical current, which is used to power your property. The process involves converting direct current (DC) electricity collected by the panels into alternating current (AC) electricity using an inverter. AC is the type of electricity used to power your house.

Excess power is sent back into the main power grid if a solar system produces more power than the household consumes. Power companies will pay you for this energy. For more information on the current rebates and incentives for solar in Geraldton, visit our solar rebates page.

Diagram demonstrating how solar panels convert sunlight into electricity

Does Solar Only Work During the Day?

Yes, solar only works when there’s sunlight. However, your solar panels can produce more than enough electricity to power you right through the night. When there is no sunlight, your home’s electricity is sourced from the main power grid which you are charged for by your selected power company.

Adding a solar battery to your system allows you to store the excess electricity and use it during the night. The battery systems are becoming more and more popular with customers preferring to store and use their excess energy.

It’s important to note that solar panel energy is generated solely through sunlight, not heat. This means that extremely hot days can reduce the system’s efficiency and output of energy.

Components of a Solar Power System

Solar Inverters

The inverter is a crucial component of your solar energy system. Its main job is to convert the direct current (DC) energy that’s collected from your solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity to be used in your home.

The inverter is the hardest working part of your system and will likely need maintenance or replacement every 5-10 years. Geraldton Solar Force recommends using a proven inverter brand to get the most out of your inverter and solar system.

Inverter size can range from 1.5kW up to 100kW. However, the average residential household in WA needs a 3kW – 5kW system, with a 5kw being the most common. For larger commercial solar systems, multiple inverters may be needed. Our inverters page outlines the brands of inverters we recommend.

Solar Panels

Solar panel systems are sometimes referred to as Photovoltaic or PV systems. This is the name for the process that occurs when solar panels harvest sunlight and convert it into electricity. The panels are made up of photovoltaic cells which directly produce energy. When sunlight hits these cells, the protons from the sun charge the electrons in the cell, creating a flow of electricity. The power output of solar panels is measured in watts, which indicates the amount of power the panel can produce in 1 peak sun hour.

Geraldton’s sunlight hours average around 10 hours per day. In hotter months such as January, it can reach an average of 11 hours per day. So ideally a 5kW solar system would produce approximately 32kW per day in Geraldton.

solar panels on steel roof

Panel Optimisation

The angle, orientation, and location of your home’s roof play a critical role in the efficiency of your solar energy system and the amount of energy your panels can generate. The optimal position for panels is when they are positioned perpendicular to the sun. This means the sun’s rays hit the PV panels at a 90° angle. North-angled rooftops have the best performance and generate the most energy in the southern hemisphere.

Geraldton Solar Force can accurately calculate the optimal position of your panels. We examine your rooftop orientation and the angle to measure the solar output potential of the panels at your property’s location.

North-Facing Panels

Facing your solar panels North will produce the highest amount of kWs per day. This is because the sun is at its brightest in the middle of the day, which targets north-facing panels. This is the best option for businesses with high power demands in the middle of the day.

North / North-West Facing Panels

Since the sun sets in the west, west-facing panels generate the most amount of power in the afternoon. Although they may produce 5-12% less electricity than north-facing panels, they are the next best alternative.

North / North-East Facing Panels

East-facing panels will produce similar power to West-facing panels in the morning, as the sun rises in the east. This assists households to utilise more solar energy in the morning.

East & West split Panels

Directly east and direct west-facing roofs may produce around 12% less than north-facing panels. The east/west split does have the advantage of producing power all morning and in the afternoon for most months of the year. This is helped by a large number of panels to produce energy from sunrise to sunset instead of a heavy concentration of north panels in the middle of the day.

South-Facing Panels

Because Australia is so far south of the equator, south-facing panels are the least ideal. In the summertime when the sun is directly above your house, south panels may produce just as much power as the north panels. But outside of these months, south-facing panels will more likely produce very little to no power.