Solar panels are made up of individual solar cells called photovoltaic cells or PV cells. These are similar to the PV cells you’ve seen at work in solar powered calculators, yard lights, and radios. When particles of sunlight called photons hits the PV cells on a solar panel, the photons are converted into electrons of direct current or DC electricity. From the solar panel, the electrons flow into an inverter. The inverter converts the DC power to AC power, which is what you typically use throughout your home for your appliances, lights, heating systems and more.
In California installed home solar systems, a net energy meter tracks the solar energy produced. Any solar energy generated that is not used by the home goes into the electrical grid that the home is connected to. If the solar panels produce less electrity than the home needs, energy is seamlessly pulled from the utility grid. There is no interruption in the flow of electricity, and you’ll never notice the switch!