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Solar Energy 102: Solar Power in Your Home

Residential roof-mounted solar panels

Learn how solar power works in a residential home and its benefits.

How does solar power work in a residential home?

Powering a residential house with solar (diagram)
During time when excess electricity flows to the grid, the utility meter will run backward, giving the homeowner credit for contributing electricity to the grid. Note that electricity produced from solar is not stored anywhere along the line.
1The solar panels on the roof convert the sun’s energy into direct current (DC) electricity.
2The current flows to an inverter, which converts the DC into alternating current (AC),
3where it is diverted to power
4an appliance, for example, the lamp pictured, or sent to
5the utility meter, which feeds it to
6the general electricity grid to which the home is attached.
Photo courtesy of NREL

This is a simplified explanation of the process and it sounds like a great idea. Could you save money by installing solar panels and generating solar power where you live? Could you avoid putting tons of CO2 into the environment by using a “clean” energy source like the sun? Find out if solar is right for you.

Solar power for a Dow Corning facility

Solar panels provide power at Dow Corning's Wiesbaden site

Employees at Dow Corning's Wiesbaden site in Germany have the opportunity to see solar panels in action every day. More than 1,000 square meters of solar panels were installed on the roof and façades of office and production buildings.

The energy generated by the solar panels is fed back into the local electricity grid. In return, the company benefits from subsidies to buy electricity for its own energy needs. Dow Corning Wiesbaden commits to reinvest 30 percent of these subsidies every year in sustainable energy projects aiming to reduce the site’s total energy consumption.

The solar panel modules were supplied by Photowatt International SAS, one of the largest manufacturers of solar silicon ingots, wafers, cell and modules in Europe. They contain Dow Corning® brand materials developed for use in photovoltaic cells and modules.

Dow Corning and Hemlock Semiconductor Group both play significant roles in the solar energy industry. Dow Corning provides materials and services for the entire solar industry, from the basic building blocks of silicon feedstock for ingots and wafers production to solar module frame assembly and sealing materials. Hemlock Semiconductor is a world leader in the production of polycrystalline silicon, the cornerstone material used to produce solar cells that harvest energy from sunlight.


How photovoltaics work

See how sunlight is converted into electricity  (26 MB video).

Solar Energy 101

Learn the basics about solar energy and how it works.

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Sign up for free e-mail updates about silicone materials and technologies for solar energy and photovoltaics.


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