1. Rays of Sunlight hit the solar panel (also known as photovoltaic PV) and are absorbed by semi-conducting material such as silicon.

2. Electrons are knocked free from their atoms, which allow them to flow through the material to produce electrical energy. This process where light (photo) is converted into electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect.

3. An array of solar panels converts solar energy into DC (direct current) electricity.

4. The DC electricity then enters an inverter.

5. The inverter turns DC electricity into 120-volt AC (alternating current) electricity needed by home appliances.

6. The AC power enters the utility panel in the house.

7. The electricity (load) is then distributed to appliances or lights in the house.

8. Unused energy can be stored in a battery as DC electricity. The battery will supply your home with electricity in the event of a power blackout or at nighttime.

9. When the battery is full, the excess electricity can be exported back into the utility grid, if your system is connected to it.

10. The flow of electricity in and out of the utility grid is measured by a utility meter, which spins backwards (when you are producing more energy that you need) and forward (when you require additional electricity from the utility company). The two are offset ensuring that you only pay for the additional energy you use from the utility company. Any surplus energy is sold back to the utility company.

As always if you need more detailed information about how solar energy works please visit solar power information.