What to Tell Your Kids About Solar Panels
As solar panel enthusiasts, we take for granted our vast knowledge of how solar energy works and the fundamental science behind our solar panels. However, we have heard plenty of children look up at their new solar panels and ask, “What are those things on our roof?”
To help alleviate some of the burden (and hours of research) on parents, our experts at NC Solar Now have broken down the solar process into a kid-friendly explanation.
We Depend on the Sun
To understand solar energy, it is important to grasp how much humankind depends on the sun. For billions of years, the sun has been
- Keeping our planet warm so that it isn’t a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock
- Providing energy to plants which then provides food and oxygen
- Creating weather patterns and atmospheric conditions on Earth
Over the past few centuries, humans have learned to take that solar energy and utilize it in a more scientific manner.
What is Solar Energy?
The primary source of energy on our planet is the sun. Solar energy is given off by the sun’s rays and is considered a renewable energy source because it is refilled naturally. Unlike oil, natural gas and coal (fossil fuels) that take a long time to form and are not replenished once used, the sun’s energy is continuous and constantly available to our planet.
Solar energy can be converted into thermal (heat) energy or electric energy.
- Thermal energy is when the sun’s solar energy is used to heat homes and buildings. Solar power from heat can be passive (harnessing naturally occurring heat from the sun) or active (mechanical components help to move the heat generated from the sun).
- Electric energy is when the solar energy is captured and the sun’s rays are converted into usable energy.
The Basics of a Solar Cell
A solar cell is what converts the sun’s light into electricity. These cells are called photovoltaic or PV cells. The word “photovoltaic” comes from 1) “photons” which are tiny particles that come from sunlight and 2) “volts” which is a measurement of electricity.
The solar cells are made up of materials that can help capture the sun’s rays which are tiny particles of light energy. When the sunlight hits the photovoltaic cell, it is either reflected, passes right through or is absorbed by the cell to be used for electricity.
How do Solar Panels Work?
A solar panel is made up of groups of solar cells that can turn sunlight into electricity for your home. If you take a look at your roof, you will see that the solar panels are positioned to capture as much sunlight as possible (usually on the south side of a building). This positioning allows your panels to capture the maximum amount of sunlight to be converted into electricity for your home. This electricity helps to run all of your electrical items like the stove, hot water tank, washing machine…the list goes on and on.
The Sum of Solar
So, to sum it all up…the sun and solar energy are part of our everyday lives. Solar energy is a clean, inexpensive and renewable power source that can be used around the world. Want to read more about solar energy? Take a look at some of our other interesting articles that explain how solar energy and panels work.
- Can Solar Panels Produce in Winter?
- Can Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
- Why is Solar Power so Popular?
- Will Santa and His Reindeer Hurt My Solar Panels?
NC Solar Now
NC Solar Now is North Carolina’s Most Trusted solar panel installer and embraces the philosophy that solar is for everyone! We’ll be by your side from your first free virtual consult through our warranty period and beyond. Visit us online at NC SOLAR NOW or contact us for more information. Check us out on Facebook or Instagram. Want to chat with someone? Give us a call at 919-833-9096.