solar roof on home

The Basics of Residential Solar Energy Use

photovoltaic panelsIn a world full of promises in reducing carbon footprint and eventually helping conserve nature, nothing is more relevant and sensible when it comes to innovation than solar power systems. This type of system, used both in residential and commercial settings, is a smart and efficient solution for lowering electric bills and consequently promoting energy efficiency.

Since you are reading this post, it only means you are interested in the installation of a solar power system at home. But before you make that significant investment, it is imperative that you learn how residential solar energy works. This way, you’d be able to appreciate more what it can do to improve your life in general.

First of all, a solar energy solution is a difference maker. It does not only help you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars through a more efficient use of energy (minus the reliance on fossil fuel), it also makes you an important contributor in preserving the environment.

To fully understand how solar energy is used in a residential setting, let us focus on the three indispensable components of a typical solar photovoltaic system, namely the solar panels, inverters, and net meters.

Solar Panels Are the Heart of the Entire System

solar powered roofThe installation of a solar panel system at home is getting increasingly popular these days, especially for homeowners who no longer can stand the rising utility bills. But the biggest question for those who are new to this concept is how are those solar panels going to provide electricity? Well, the answer is simple, but the mechanism goes through a complex process. First, solar panels are installed in order to collect energy from the sun. It is for this reason why they are typically installed or found on the roof, where there is maximum exposure to the sun’s rays. The moment sunlight comes into contact with the solar panels found on top of the roof; the same panels will collect the photovoltaic cells and convert them into direct current or DC electricity. This is where the solar panels’ job ends and the start of the conversion process for another essential component.

The Inverter

solar roof on homeThe second essential component of a residential setup for a solar panel system is the inverter. We talked about how the panels gather energy from the sun and convert it to DC electricity. From there, the DC electricity is transferred to the power inverter. This electronic device is responsible for converting DC into AC electricity, or alternating current. The inverter has an indispensable role since without it there is no way for your home to utilize DC electricity. The only solution is to convert it first to AC because it is the kind of electricity that powers a home or building. The AC electricity is accessible via the wall outlets, where you plug in appliances and devices like the TV, microwave, fridge, and others to use them. So, if the solar panel serves as the gatherer of raw energy, the inverter processes it for real-world use.

Net Meter

The net meter is the third essential component of a residential solar energy system. Its role is to direct the power flow to and from the utility. It also is responsible for keeping track of the power that’s being produced by the solar panel system.

Keep in mind that in the daytime, the energy produced by the system powers the home, which means you no longer are forced to buy electricity from the usual power grid. But at night, the solar panels do not produce energy since there is no sun, which means the only option is buying electricity from the grid. It sounds like a very complicated process, but thanks to the net meter, you don’t really have to worry about any of it.

In case your solar panel system produces more energy than you consume, the extra electricity generated is distributed to the grid and everyone else in your neighborhood gets to use it. With the net meter installed, you get credit for the surplus energy your system produced in the form of being required to just pay the net amount between what you used and what you put back into the power grid.