How Solar Works
Powering your home with Sunlight
The Basics of
Home Solar Energy
Most people have basic knowledge of how solar panels work, but not as many people understand how they can benefit from them. Here’s a crash-course on home solar power, and how it can help you save thousands of dollars in energy costs.
Traditional Power and
Most of the power used in homes across the U.S. is delivered through a massive network of generators, wires, and stations. This network is called “the grid”. The grid is usually owned by large corporations, which are sometimes regulated by state and local governments. If you own a house, chances are these corporations send you a bill every month for the power you use.
Home Solar Systems
When a solar system is installed on your home, attractive, low-profile solar panels are attached to your roof. Your home becomes its own small-scale power generation plant, and you eliminate the need to buy most of your power from the power utility. Any extra power your system produces is put back onto the grid and sold to your neighbors, and you get energy credits applied to your account.
Net Energy Metering
A critical component to residential solar systems is the Net Energy Meter. A Net Energy Meter doesn’t look much different than the meter you have now, but it’s capable of running in both directions. You’re able to pull power from the grid, as well as put power back onto the grid. Your utility then credits your account for excess energy produced. These credits are then used by you at a later time. It’s all automatically monitored, so there’s nothing you need to figure out or do.
Pulling It All Together
As power is produced by your solar panels, it travels into a power inverter which converts the electricity into a usable form. Your own power needs are met first, and if excess electricity is available, it goes back onto the grid through your Net Energy Meter. This meter keeps track of how much energy the utility owes you in return. If your system is producing less power than what you need, you still have the connection to the grid to draw power as needed, and rather than paying the going rate for it, you use the credits you’ve built up first. This is particularly useful to avoid peak-time rates during those hot summer months.
Solar + NEM = a Better Way to Power Your Home
Solar panels produce the most power during the time of year when demand and rates are at their highest. People with solar homes enjoy lower energy rates year-round, and only buy power from their utility companies at the lowest rates, if they buy any at all.