How Solar Power Works

How Solar Power works

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels collect the sun's energy and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. The number of panels you need is determined by your electricity needs and financial objectives or selected to fill available unshaded roof or ground space. Solar panels are electrically wired to an inverter that converts the electricity from DC to alternating current (AC) electricity for use in your building. An electric meter displays net power usage. When you generate more than you use, your meter actually spins backwards effectively selling electricity back to the power company. You now produce your own electricity to be used throughout your building. Since there are no moving parts, you don't have to worry about maintenance. You can monitor your system’s performance anytime, anywhere live on the web.

Solar Array

The Solar Arrays is built from 20 to 60 Solar Panels. The panels are mounted to rails which are attached to the roof. The Solar Array can be built on a Ground Mount Structure. The Solar Panels convert sunlight directly to Direct Current (DC) electricity. Each Panel will generate 30 to 40 volts of electricity. Multiple Panels are connected together in strings to build up the voltage from 250 to 600 volts DC. Strings are typically 10 to 15 Panels. Multiple Strings are then fed into the Inverters.


The Inverter takes in Direct Current (DC) electricity and coverts it to Alternating Current (AC) for use in the house. The Inverter also regulates the voltage. Each string of panels will generate 250 to 600 volts DC depending on the amount of sunlight. The Inverter converts this to a standard 220 Volts AC. This is delivered to the house in two legs of 110 Volts so it can be used for either lights and small appliances (110 Volts) or major appliances, heating and air conditioning units.

SREC Meter

The SREC meter measures the total electric production of the Solar System. The SREC meter looks like and actually is a standard utility meter. The SREC meter is connected between the Inverter and the Distribution Panel. It will measure the amount of electricity produced for SREC reporting and receiving payments for SRECs.

AC Disconnect Switch

The AC disconnect switch is required to be easily accessible for electric service personnel to be able to disconnect the Solar System.

Distribution Panel

The Distribution Panel is the existing “Breaker Box” typically located in the basement or garage of the home. The output of the Inverter after the SREC meter is fed into the Distribution Panel as a 30 to 60 AMP circuit. This allows the electricity from you Solar System to be fed into all the electrical systems in you home. If the Solar System is producing more than the needs of the house, the electricity will flow back through the Distribution Panel to the Utility meter into the electric grid. In this case the electric will typically flow to you neighbors houses.

Utility Meter

This is the standard electric meter already installed on you house. The meter may need to be upgraded to read electric flowing both ways. This is called “net metering.” In some cases the electric company may need to install an additional meter to measure the electricity pushed back into “the grid.”

Now that you know how solar power works, see if it's right for your home.