solar-power-on-a-gridSo How Does Solar Energy Work?

There are some basic, key components common to most home solar power installations, whether rooftop mounted or ground mounted. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels convert sunlight to electricity. The most common types of PV solar panels are made of crystalline silicon solar cells. The electricity produced runs through an inverter that converts the direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity that can power anything, most commonly an electric car or entire home.

As one of the best parts of installing a solar energy system, the homeowner trades fuel sources and takes advantage of the unlimited and free sunshine. In a perfect environment, this would be enough and the property would be completely self-sufficient. But as we know, the sun isn’t always shining. With the appropriate energy storage hardware any home can become independent. Most solar energy installations today rely on the existing utility and grid services for the backup instead of the local energy storage. In the near future, that additional hardware may be more affordable.

1-solar-panel-system-installed
Solar panels convert the sun’s light and energy into electricity


An inverter converts the electricity from DC to AC so it can power items in your home


The converted solar electricity goes through a meter and is useable at the outlets in your home


Your home is now SunPowered! Any extra electricity is sent back into the grid and credited to you

The Components of A Solar Power System

Solar Panels
Also known as Photovoltaic (PV) panels. PV panels are high impact glass enclosures of silicon panels that absorb photons from sunlight and convert them to electricity (voltage) that can be directly used or stored. For larger capacity systems, the panel selection is more critical to meet production and costs goals.

Inverters
This is the hardware needed to ensure the generated electricity matches what is needed for the facility’s usage and looks no different from the power that is supplied through the grid. It is important for the resident or business using solar energy to make it easier to transmit additional electricity back into the grid. Modern inverters for grid-connected systems (without local energy storage) also prevent power from flowing within the solar energy system whenever the local grid goes down. While not ideal, this is regulated in order to protect workers repairing the supply network.

As a system grows in capacity, there are more options for inverter types where larger inverter components can manage the output from a greater number of panels. Such “string inverters” require attention to make sure they are adequate for all the possible real world operating conditions, such as a panel failure or partial shadowing due to clouds, etc.

Meter
To best use the existing grid as if it were your energy storage device, you must be able to measure what you consume from the utility when your solar power system isn’t covering your usage and what you export back as excess. This “net-metering” allowance requires a special digital meter that tracks both flows and provides you with the purchases and credits information you will see on each statement.

Protection
State code requires additional protection from a physical disconnect, or shut-off.

The Grid
This is your old supplier that is now your effective energy storage, supplying electricity whenever your solar installation is not meeting your immediate demand.

Monitoring Software (Optional)
We offer all our customers the ability to conveniently track their instantaneous production and historical output through their computer or other connected digital device. This information is also valuable for troubleshooting and alerting us both to problems.