Residential Solar System: Sunlight to Electricity

Do you know how a residential solar system converts sunlight to electricity? The photovoltaic (PV) panels collect sunlight, then use a piece of equipment called an inverter to turn the light into usable energy for you and your family. It’s a fairly simple system, but putting all of the components together into a productive system requires special expertise. That’s why you want to work with a professional solar system company.

The inverter is one of the most critical parts in your residential solar system. It takes the direct current (DC) electricity created from the interaction of light on the photovoltaic cells and converts it into the alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in your home and by the grid.

What determines the inverter that your installer will recommend?

As with any home improvement project, it depends! The first part of your solar consultation will be about what your solar power goals are. Here are just a few of the questions you will cover:

  1. Do you want a grid-tied system?
  2. Are you planning to create a battery back-up plan so you are protected in case of catastrophic weather?
  3. Is your home at a remote location that requires a free-standing system (not connected to the grid)?

The decision about what size and type of inverter to install depends on your answer to these questions, along with some others that will guide the design of your system. Your solar consultant will have recommendations of inverters and will include that information in your proposal.

In general, you will want to purchase an inverter large enough to cover demand now and in the future. As your needs change, you can add additional panels for increased capacity if your inverter will accommodate the expansion.

Important points to remember about your residential solar system inverter:

  • The inverter should be covered by a warranty, just like the other components of the system.
  • Your PV panels will last much longer than the inverter, so expect to replace it during the useful life of your system.
  • As a critical part of your residential solar panel system, any financing, rebates, incentives or tax credits you qualify for will help cover the cost.

Schedule your consultation today – there’s no better time to go solar!

Going off grid?

Most residential solar customers will remain on the grid. In other words, they will use their residential solar panels to reduce their energy bills while contributing their excess production to the grid. They will then use the grid for backup when their energy needs surpass their own production. This is a great solution, and for many, it truly offers the ideal situation.

For others, however, there is a real desire to be totally energy independent. These customers have the available resources, in terms of the initial investment and access to enough space for their solar panels to make this dream a reality.

While installing solar panels is easy, designing and installing an off-grid system takes a considerable investment of time and resources. Before you make your final decision, here are some thoughts to consider.

Why do you think going off-grid is an option? There are a variety of reasons both practical and philosophical.

At the top of the list of practical reasons is that your home or business is in a location that currently doesn’t have access to the grid. In that case, you will need to research the cost of creating your own system. It will most likely be a substantial array of solar panels, along with a storage system. Compare the cost of your system to what the local utility will charge to connect you to the existing grid.

Another aspect of going off-grid to consider are the practicalities of producing your own energy in the same consistent, reliable way we have become accustom to. Most of us have lived for many years in a system where energy is abundant and as easy as flipping a switch. By going off-grid, you will have to put serious consideration into replicating that system with your own resources. You will most likely be required to make some lifestyle adjustments, too, so that you can effectively balance your energy production with your consumption.

When you are totally off grid, your biggest challenge will be dealing with the fluctuations in power production. When the days are long, sunny and cloudless, no problem! Your solar panels will keep all your systems running efficiently. Cloudy days and the rainy season are another story all together. That’s why it’s so important to work with a solar company with expertise in the design and installation of solar installations that incorporate an adequate storage system along with the solar panels.

Of course, this type of system can represent a significant investment.  The good news is that your solar energy back-up system may qualify for tax credits and other incentives, too. As always, these decisions should be made in consultation with your tax advisor.

The best way to determine if now is the time to go off the grid is to contact a professional solar system design company and schedule an initial consultation. Get started today and realize your goal of energy independence today.