Solar powered electricity and the home
Using the warmth and energy of the sun can be as simple as opening the curtains on a south-facing window to absorb the heat and light of passive solar rays.
However, homeowners who are interested in realizing measurable cost savings on their monthly electricity bill can install a home solar energy system to either cut down on or eliminate commercially-generated power consumption altogether.
Where and how are solar panels installed?
Placement of solar panels is a critical decision that will determine the amount of electricity produced. In the northern hemisphere, panels should have an unobstructed, south-facing access to sunlight. In an urban setting, unobstructed sunlight may only be available on a rooftop.
Solar panels are often secured on “panel racks.” These racks can be mounted into the ground, attached to poles and rooftops or placed on trackers which follow the path of the sun. The racks angle the solar panels towards the sun to increase exposure.
How does the process work?
A solar power system is composed of several components. The panels absorb sunlight, and then convert it to direct current (DC) electricity through a process called the photoelectric effect.
The DC current travels through a charge controller which prevents over-charge damage to the system. An inverter converts DC to AC current that supplies the electricity requirements for most household equipment.
Can extra power be sold back to the power company?
Utility companies throughout the U.S. have established programs in which they purchase excess electricity from solar-powered residences. Because rates and policies vary by location, homeowners should contact their local power company directly for further information.
Using solar energy at home is becoming easier and more economical as its popularity grows. However, for safety reasons, homeowners should not attempt do-it-yourself installation of solar electrical components.
A qualified electrician with experience in solar-based electrical systems will ensure that the connections and installation are safely completed. Sign in to Angie’s List to find a highly rated and licensed electrician.