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How Does Solar Energy Work?

“Light” (not heat) from the sun stimulates electrons on a solar panel to create DC electricity.That DC electricity is converted into AC electricity via an inverter before feeding the electrical panel in your home.Your home uses that electricity the same way it uses electricity from the grid.For a short video description,click here.
Will my solar system work on cloudy days or at night?
As long as there is sunlight on the panels, the system will produce electricity. However, production will be less on cloudy days than on bright sunny days. Think of it in terms of visibility. There is still outdoor visibility on cloudy or rainy days, albeit less visibility. There is still production on cloudy days, albeit less production. Since there is no sunlight at night, there is no production at night.
How does shade affect my system?
Shade severely limits the production of electricity on any system. By shading a panel, it is possible to limit the production of all of the other panels in the array – especially with central or string inverter systems. Systems that use microinverters limit any shading loss to the single panel or few panels that are shaded, so the loss of production is mitigated. A site visit by a local solar professional can provide detailed information on solar exposure & shade factors for your location. Click here to be contacted by a Solar professional in your area.
What is DC vs. AC electricity and why is it important for me to know?
The important thing for most of us to know about converting DC to AC electricity is that it just works. For those that want more detail, DC (Direct Current) electricity means that electrons along an electrical current flow in 1 direction only. AC (Alternating Current) electricity means that electrons can flow in both (alternating) directions. Sometime in the late 1800s, the “War of Currents” was really a patent debate to determine if power plants would supply AC or DC electricity to homes & businesses. The chosen infrastructure had heavy implications on patents held by Edison (DC proponent) and the Hungarian ZBD team (AC proponent). In the end, AC infrastructure was chosen because of its ability to be safely distributed over longer distances, thus today homes and businesses are designed to run on grid tied AC electricity.
What is the purpose of an inverter?
An inverter converts the DC electricity that is produced by the panels and converts that energy into AC electricity that is compatible with your home’s electrical infrastructure.
What is the difference between central, string and microinverters?
Central inverters signify 1 single / central inverter that takes all of the DC electricity from the entire array of panels and converts that DC electricity into AC electricity. String inverters convert the DC electricity from segments of the array into AC electricity. Thus, there is no single point of failure for the whole system (as with a central inverter), but the string inverter system still has some reduced cost benefits over the microinverter. Microinverters are small inverters mounted on the underside of every panel. Although a microinverter system may be slightly more expensive, it is also far more efficient. If a single microinverter malfunctions or has a shaded panel, it only affects the single panel it is attached to. If a single string inverter malfunctions or has a shaded panel, it affects all of the panels on that “string”. And when a central inverter malfunctions or has a shaded panel, it affects the entire solar array.
Will the panels damage my roof?
No. In fact, the opposite is true. The most damaging element to any rooftop is the sun. Not only do solar panels provide electricity, they greatly extend the life of your roof system by the mere fact that it shades the roof from the sun.
How expensive is a typical solar system?
The short answer is that you have already paid for a typical solar system. You just didn’t get the panels. The cost of your utility bill every month has probably paid for 2-3 “typical” sized solar systems over time. Most people just get used to blindly sending in a check because they feel there is no alternative. A properly sized system can be paid off with your current electricity spend within 7years. That means after 7 years, you can stop spending money on electricity and use that money to shop, pay bills or get another car. To see the cost of a system on your roof, try our online Solar Calculator.
How does solar affect my property value?
In an absolute positive way. Imagine you could buy a home or business. All other things being equal, one of the choices had less monthly operating costs. Which choice would you make? In financial terms, a savings of $200 per month equates to a present value of approximately $20,000. Thus the asking price for your home or business has increased with the addition of solar.
When I get credited for my excess electricity, do I get credited at the same rate as I get billed?
Yes. State legislation requires utility companies to credit homeowners and businesses for any excess electricity supplied to the grid. The rate for which the building owner gets credited has to be the same rate that the building owner would be charged during that time.
What is Time of Use Billing
Time of Use billing is simply different electricity rates that apply to different times of the day – similar to peak / off peak billing, except with more billing tiers and day parts. The reason for this structure is due to the fact that utilities have to accommodate more demand at certain times during the day. During those high demand times (like weekday afternoons), utility companies must purchase power from as many sources as possible (including older, more expensive or more distant power plants). All of these factors can drive up their supply chain costs which get passed on in the form of higher electricity rates.
Are solar systems tax deductible?
Actually, solar systems carry a tax CREDIT vs. a tax DEDUCTION. The difference is as follows. Let’s say that your income is $75,000 per year and you owe federal taxes of $13,500. You purchase a solar system for $15,000 with a Federal Tax CREDIT of $5,000 (30%). In that instance, you would deduct $5,000 from the $13,500 in taxes that you owe. Thus your tax owed is now $8,500. If it were a tax DECUCTION, you would subtract the $5,000 from your income to put you in a different income tax category. With a tax CREDIT, the benefit for the building owner is much greater than receiving a tax deduction.