How Residential Solar Works
Understanding how residential solar works is a great place to start in your transition to solar power for you home. One great thing about solar is that it really doesn’t have that many components and the power that it creates is easily tracked and monitored from your computer or smartphone. Below is a simple diagram of all the parts that are involved in a residential grid tied solar system.
How Solar Works from Panel to Grid
- When light hits the solar panels on the roof it causes a chemical reaction that produces electricity.
- That electricity is converted from direct current (DC), produced by the panels to AC needed by your home energy loads.
- The electricity flows into your main electric panel where it is either distributed to the electric loads in your home or to the grid if not needed.
- The electric loads in your home is anything that is uses electricity; your lights, appliances, computers, TV, HVAC, refrigerator, and all the things you charge like your phone or even an EV if you own one.
- The utility meter on most homes only measures energy entering the home. At the end of every billing cycle, you are charged for all the kilowatt hours (kWh) that your home used. When you have solar, you will get a bi-directional meter. That meter will run forwards and backwards and you will pay the difference. That is called net metering. In some places where net metering isn’t available you will receive a credit for that power, but the amount can vary. Talk to your local consultant to be sure you understand your utilities policies.
- Any power not needed by the home (or battery if present) goes out to the electric grid and will flow into other people’s houses where it will be used for their electric loads.