We hear from homeowners from all over country who are interested in solar power. The one thing they seem to share in common is a desire to cut their monthly electricity bill.
As it turns out, reducing your electricity bill is exactly what solar home energy systems are good for. Check our
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity -- which means you don’t have to buy all your power from the utility. Any excess power that your panels generate flows back into the electricity grid so you can run your electric meter backwards!
But, no need to worry about potential interruptions in power, say, at night -- or when it’s really cloudy out. Your solar home will remain connected to the utility grid and thus always has the instant ability to get power from the utility company without any interruption
Because you'll get credit for the solar power you produce, you'll pay less each month to the utility. It’s not uncommon for a residential solar energy system to reduce monthly electricity costs by 75 percent -- or more! Imagine turning your $200/month bill into a $50/month bill. For the next 20+ years... now that’s real solar power.
Here's a more in-depth explanation of how solar home energy systems work:
(1) Clear exposure to the south is ideal for solar home energy systems.
But solar panels may be installed facing southwest or southeast without seeing a significant reduction in performance. A qualified solar energy expert can determine if your roof is good for solar panels and help you identify common issues, including:
- Trees -- while a little bit of shade is OK, too much shade can kill your project. Walk your property and see if nearby trees, buildings or other obstructions cast shade on your roof.
- Orientation and size of roof -- some homes simply don't have sufficient south-facing roof space to accommodate enough solar panels. In some cases, homeowners may opt to install the panels in their yard. This type of solar panel installation is often called a "ground-mounted" solar array.
- Age of roof -- the newer the roof, the better.
- Type of roof -- it costs a bit more to install solar panels on some kinds of roofs, like wood shake shingle roofs or clay tiles roofs. Again, a qualified solar installer can help determine how much a home solar energy installation will cost in your particular situation.
(2) Solar panels turn sunlight into DC electricity.
Solar panels generate direct current, or DC, power. We'll skip the details here. But if you'd like to learn more about how solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work, please feel free to read the following articles:
(3) The inverter turns DC power into AC power for your home.
No solar home energy system is complete without an inverter, which takes direct current from the solar panels and turns it into alternating current (AC). AC power is what we use everyday to power our homes and businesses.
Most commonly, the solar energy system's inverter is centrally located, often nearby the home's electrical panel. In recent years, however, microinverters have become increasingly popular. Unlike a conventional inverter, these small inverters are affixed to each of the solar panels.
(4) Any excess electricity flows out through your meter, in effect running it backwards.
During sunny weekdays, it's not uncommon for solar energy systems to generate more electricity than is needed: with parents at work and kids at school, there's little electricity demand at home and a relative surplus of solar energy production. This surplus electricity flows through a bi-directional meter and back onto the utility electric grid.
As the sun goes down and family members return home, the flow of electricity reverses, and the home draws power from the grid as usual.
(5) You get credit from the utility for any excess power.
When your solar panels generate excess electricity, this amount of power is credited to your monthly utility bill under an arrangement called "net metering."
Net metering ensures that you get credit for the power you produce -- regardless of when you product it. Moreover, net metering also enables owners of solar energy systems to forgo batteries, which can be expensive and require periodic maintenance. So, instead of storing excess electricity on site, you can send it to the electric grid and receive full credit from your utility!
Solar Home Energy Overview