How Solar Power Works

Most Australians are connected to the National Electricity Grid, a network of electric cables and transformers that links power generating stations to your home.

How solar power works

A Grid-Connect Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System acts as a mini power station on your roof, feeds power to your home, and surplus power back to the grid.

Solar systems generally consist of solar panels, an inverter and a metering system.

Most solar power systems use PV modules (panels) installed on a rooftop to create and collect energy from sunlight. An inverter converts the Direct Current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into Alternating Current (AC), the form of electricity conventionally used in homes. The system is connected through a meter to the grid. Solar systems allow you to use your solar power when it is generating electricity during the day and put any excess back into the grid. As soon as you need more electricity than your system can generate, your electricity will automatically be supplied from the grid. At night, your house draws energy from the grid.

Solar panels

Solar cells are produced from thin wafers of silicon. When light falls on the cells an electric current is produced. A collection of solar cells connected together forms a module.

Ideally the modules should be tilted towards the sun (North-facing) at around 20 – 30 degrees to maximise the solar collection.


You will need an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) power collected by the solar panels into power for your home, or power to send back to the electricity grid. It can be placed inside or outside your home and can give you information about the amount of electricity being produced by your system. Larger systems may require more than one inverter.

Meters and the grid

You still need to be connected to the electricity grid to ensure that you have electricity at nighttime when no solar power energy is being collected. A meter will also enable you to sell back excess electricity. Most premises have had a digital smart meter installed as part of the Government roll-out. The smart meter will be configured post-installation to enable excess electricity to be sold back to the grid.

For safety reasons, when your electricity supply from the grid is interrupted, your solar PV system must automatically and immediately turn off.

More information

To download the Consumer Guide to Buying Household Solar Panels, go to the Clean Energy Council’s website.

Read more about the benefits of solar power and what size system you need. If you have further questions about how solar power works, please do not hesitate to contact us.



Solar is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly ways to produce electricity.

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