It’s no surprise that solar is everywhere. You can hardly go to the grocery store anymore without being approached by someone talking about solar panels, kilowatts, and inverters, but the reality is that solar gives you the ability to save a ton of money your utility bill. And that’s exciting!
How Solar Works
Solar systems, also known as photovoltaic (PV) systems, produce electricity by using solar cells to convert sunlight into direct current (DC). Photons in the sunlight hit the solar panels and are absorbed by semiconducting materials such as silicon.
As electrons are freed from the semiconducting material they create electricity. Because of the configuration of the solar cells, the electricity flows in a specific direction. An inverter or series of microinverters is installed with the PV solar system and converts the direct current to alternating current (AC) so that the electricity can be used for residential and commercial applications.
Types of Systems
A system designed to operate in conjunction with your utility company and uses an inverter to distribute electricity. It functions kind of like a virtual battery. When your home or business produces more electricity than it needs, you earn credits towards your utility bill. The goal when building a system is to produce enough so that the credits cover as much of your bill as possible. These systems are best for most situations because of their affordability.
A system connected to the utility company but designed to keep crucial appliances, like refrigerators, energized if long periods of utility company blackouts occur. These systems can be more expensive because they require additional equipment that isn’t fully utilized unless the grid goes down. The systems are also usually not designed to power your whole house off of battery power, only a couple of isolated circuits that contain things like: refrigerator, freezer, internet, phone, etc..
A system designed to function completely independent of a utility company. These systems are typically not realistic if you have access to the grid. These systems require more equipment which usually need to be maintained and replaced more frequently. Systems like this are typically much more expensive than Grid-Tied and Grid-Tied with Battery Backup.
Customers who produce electricity with a solar panel system enter into an annual billing cycle program with their utility company under the Net Energy Metering Agreement. Over the course of the year, the energy that is put onto the grid through the customer’s smart meter is tracked along with the amount of energy pulled from the grid. At the end of the annual billing cycle, the utility company sends a “True-Up” bill which accounts for the “net difference” between the two.
Depending on how your system is designed and your usage throughout the year, you can achieve “Net-Zero” and only owe your utility company grid-connection fees.
*Net metering is subject to change at any time with legislation passed by the CPUC. For any proposed changes, please speak to one of our [Sales Consultants].