Solar 101

How it works

solar panel installation

  1. Absorb Energy from Sunlight
    Solar (or photovoltaic) modules create energy by absorbing photons from sunlight. The photons react with the photoelectric material in the module, knocking electrons loose. These electrons are captured in the form of an direct electrical current, creating power.
  2. Convert Sunlight to Energy
    This direct current from generated by a photovoltaic module has to go through another step before it can be used to power your home. The current is run through a device called an inverter (or power converter) which converts the direct current (DC) from the solar modules to alternating current (AC) which can be used in your home and distributed to the utility grid. During this process, 14-18% of the energy produced by the panels is lost.
  3. Distribute Energy to your Home
    After being converted to alternating current, power travels from the inverter to your electrical service panel (your breaker box). The power from the electrical panel is then distributed to any electrical loads in your home.
  4. Run your Meter Backwards
    When excess power is produced by the solar system, the power will flow into the grid through your electric meter. This will cause your meter to run backwards gaining you a credit with the utility company.
  5. Net Metering
    Net metering legislation states that the utility company must credit you at retail rates (the same rate they would have charged you). Therefore, time of use customers will be credited peak rates for power fed into the grid during peak hours.
  6. What makes a house suitable for solar?
    There are several factors that determine how suitable a home is for solar.The number of sun hours received by your geographical location. Also known as solar isolation, this is the amount of sun light that a geographical location receives in a typical year. Display the solar isolation for United States.The amount of shading received by your roof during peak production hours. Less is better. Tall structures (other homes or buildings, trees, telephone poles, etc.) can restrict the amount of sunlight that reaches an installed solar panel. The shade those other structures create can reduce the effectiveness of your solar system.Available roof or ground area for the solar power system. A solar power system requires space for installation.


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