The sun produces more energy than the world needs every day, but we have to work hard to harness this power and put it to good use. The good news is that solar technology is improving by the day, making it a viable option for more homeowners than ever before.
A home solar system uses photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The process starts with electrons, each carrying a negative electrical charge, moving toward the front surface of the cell. This imbalance creates voltage potential like the negative and positive terminals of a battery, which causes electricity to flow through the conductors on the back of the cell. These conductors can be connected to an external load such as a light fixture or appliance.
Adding a battery bank to your solar panel system allows you to store excess electricity for times when the sun is not shining. Installing a battery bank is an additional cost to your system, but the financial benefits of being able to power your home with solar energy even when the grid is down are significant.
Once your solar panels produce energy, they can be fed into the household wiring through a power inverter. This converts the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) that can be used in household appliances and is also safer for your home. It is important that the inverter and batteries are installed together so they can communicate with each other, so the battery will not drain itself when the inverter is operating.
Some solar systems allow you to connect them directly to the home’s electricity network, bypassing the traditional utility company entirely. These systems are known as “grid-tie” or “direct-current solar.” The benefits of this approach include avoiding electricity rate increases and having the ability to sell back any excess electricity to the utility company during periods of high usage.
It’s important to remember that the size of a solar power system will depend on how much electricity is consumed on-site, the roof’s orientation and tilt, space availability and financial considerations. Solar systems can offset anywhere from 3-5% to 100% of your electricity consumption.
You can choose to own your solar energy system, or you can lease it through a solar power purchase agreement (PPA). With a PPA, a third party will own the solar panels and equipment and you’ll pay them a monthly fee that is less than what you would typically pay to another energy provider.
Lastly, you can choose to go off-grid, which is when you create enough energy to meet all your power demands on site without connecting to the electric grid at all. In order to do this, a powerful solar system is needed. The best way to determine if this is right for you is to connect with a local Energy Advisor who can review your home and recommend the best option to meet your specific needs.