How Solar Works

Graphical Representation of how a solar panel system works for your home


Solar modules are installed on the roof of your property to capture the sun’s energy and convert it into DC electricity.

A box of electronics called an inverter is installed on the wall of your house and it converts the DC electricity from the solar panels into 240V AC power that is compatible with our appliances.

Converted AC power goes through a disconnect switch.

Your generated solar power/electricity connects to your home’s wiring at your existing switchboard/fuse box.

Your friendly electricity distributor provides a new “Import/Export” meter (Smart meter) to make sure that your new solar system can export the excess power that is generated and not used.

When sunlight hits the PV cells in a solar panel, electrons are knocked loose and move around. These loose electrons can be captured so they move in the same direction around a circuit.

An electric current is formed by this flow of electrons in the same direction. By connecting many PV cells to each other in a panel and wiring a number of panels together (called an array), a flow of electrons is created and produces direct current (DC) electricity. In our homes and businesses, we use 240-volt alternating current (AC) electricity.

Therefore, a device called an inverter is used to convert the DC electricity to AC so the generated power can be used on your premises.

    • The solar PV system will be connected to the grid via a smart meter. This means that the electricity generated is consumed within your house first which reduces how much electricity you buy from your retailer. This is where you will make the majority of your savings – not buying as much electricity from your retailer.
    • If the solar PV system is generating more electricity than your house is consuming, the excess is exported to the electricity grid. Some electricity companies meter the electricity fed into the grid by your system and provide a credit on your bill. It is determined as Feed-In-Tariff. The price paid to you for the electricity you export to the grids varies depending on the retailers.
    • When the solar cells are not producing power, for example at night, power comes from the main power grid as usual. The energy retailer charges the usual rate for the power used. Most customers choose a roof-mounted solar power system.
    • For most of Australia, panels are installed facing north in order to take full advantage of the sun. However, west and east-facing installation may also be desirable. This positioning may provide power at the time of the day when there is most demand.

What happens on a cloudy day:

    • Even a cloudy day is sufficient to generate some solar power, although a lot less than a sunny day. solar panels work just fine when it’s cloudy, rainy, and/or cold.
    • Are clouds and rain ideal for solar panels? Of course not. They are most effective in direct sunlight. But solar panels can still generate power when the sun is blocked by clouds – more than enough, in fact, to remain a viable source of electricity.
    • It’s important to remember that in a solar panel array, shade blocks the flow of electricity through the panels. Even if shading is on just one of the panels, the output of the entire array will be reduced.
    • More advanced panels and inverters can lower the impact from the shade. While you don’t have any control over shade from clouds, you should position your panels in an area free of shadows from other things, such as trees and buildings.
    • If this is not possible, you may have the option of splitting your solar panels across parts of your roof that face different directions. For this kind of set-up, you will need an inverter that can accept multiple inputs for the best results.

Also, many modern solar panels come equipped with devices called bypass diodes. These devices reduce the effects of partial shading by enabling electricity to ‘flow around’ the shaded area. There are even panels that are designed to operate effectively in part shade.