Once solar panels collect solar energy, where does it go/where is it stored?


Once solar panels collect solar energy, where does it go/where is it stored?

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It is stored in batteries. The batteries are what powers everything, but the solar energy is what charges the batteries.

So, a solar panel is a machine for making a voltage potential, kind of like how the chemistry in a battery works. The potential doesn’t do any work until it’s given a load. Ie, a solar panel doest actually make any electricity until its connected to something to use that electricity.

Technically it makes a tiny bit of electricity, because it stores a small amount of energy through capacitance, and charging that is a load, but, don’t worry about that. It’s basically zero

>ELI5: Once solar panels collect solar energy, where does it go/where is it stored?

If the solar panels are not connected to anything, they will not convert any light into electric energy. They will be like any other surface.
If they are connected to a **load** they will power the load. They will get slightly less warm in the sunlight than any comparable surface. That difference is converted into electric energy. The load powered with that electric energy could be anything, a big resistor, the power grid, a battery …

Solar panels generate DC current, so their output is like a battery with a negative and positive output. Like a battery, the energy goes nowhere unless a circuit is completed between the poles. The only way to store generated power is with some form of electric storage device, such as a battery or capacitor.

Three options:

First it’s used within the home, powering whatever you’ve got plugged in and drawing power. This offsets how much energy you have to purchase throughout the day from the grid (your electricity supplier).

If you are generating more energy than what you are consuming, that extra energy can then be dumped into a battery system to be used later when the sun isn’t up or shining brightly. (or in some cases during hours when purchasing electricity is more expensive than other times)

Finally if you don’t have a battery system or that battery is full, the excess energy is exported to the grid and sold to your electricity supplier. This takes load off their generators burning less fossil fuels to power your neighbours. While this is an option; you usually get paid far less per kwh than what you’ll spend to purchase that same energy from the grid later, which is why a system that includes battery storage for night is more ideal.