How to Power a House with Solar Power
The decision to go solar is far from the last decision a family will make before their solar system install is complete and their meter begins running backwards. Understanding the many elements that go into powering a house with solar power is crucial to a successful end result.
Your solar installer will talk to you about a lot of different components to choose from when selecting the best solar system for your home.
Photovoltaic panels: More commonly referred to as solar modules, or solar panels, photovoltaic panels are the power-generating device of your system. These panels will generate power whenever there is light, even on cloudy days.
Racking and Wiring System: The “racking system” is the permanent support system that will be attached to your home to which the solar modules are fastened. This allows room and protection for the wiring system between the solar modules and the meter. Luckily there are no moving parts in a solar system allowing maintenance to be very minimal.
DC vs. AC Energy: One important element of solar panel operation to understand when you go solar is that the energy created by the solar panels is DC (Direct Current) energy while the energy your home utilizes is AC (Alternating Current) energy. The process of converting the sun’s rays into useable electricity is fairly simple. Your solar power panels are collecting the sun’s rays and turning them into DC power. The DC power is then sent to an inverter that converts it into AC power.
Solar Inverter: The solar inverter is the power-conditioning device that converts the DC electricity coming from your solar panels into AC electricity which can be used to distribute power throughout your home. The inverter is used to make the energy that the solar system produces match synchronously with the power typically supplied from the utility company. This AC power from the inverter is then fed into your main electrical panel. Net metering uses information on the amount of AC power converted, which tells the local utility how much energy you are producing.
Net Metering: The concept of net metering is fairly simple. The power you create through your solar system is connected back to the electrical grid. The grid that you use to power your home is already maintained by the utility. Thus, any extra power your solar system creates that your home isn’t using is fed back into the power grid. When power is being “back-fed” and you are producing more energy than your home is currently using, your electric meter begins to spin backwards!
The power grid continues to be managed by your local utility company, making sure that even when the sun is not out, that you have power for your home that is supplied from the grid. During the daylight hours, a solar system is designed to produce more than you are using, and the power you don’t use immediately is credited back to you and reduces your bill. Essentially, you want a solar system that produces more energy than you can use on sunny days and it will help supplement the power you are using at night or cloudy days when your panels can’t produce as much energy.
Thankfully, having a knowledgeable design and installation team like us at your service will help you make decisions regarding the panels, number of panels, inverter type, etc. Some even have smart phone apps that let you see how much energy you are producing and using at any given time! Ultimately, powering a house with solar power is easier than you think.