Making the decision to invest in a home solar energy system is only the first step. You must also decide whether or not to stay connected to your local power system (grid-tie) or to cut the cord completely (off-grid). If you choose a grid-tie system, you'll want to know how to tie your solar energy system to the local power grid.
A home solar energy system is made up of three main parts: residential solar panels, a mounting system and an inverter. These components grab solar energy, convert into electricity and deliver it to your home and the local power grid.
A Net For The Sun
Residential solar panels capture the sun's rays and convert them to direct current (DC) electricity. Solar panels are rated in watts, based in how much power they can generate.
Typically, it will take 80 to 100 square feet of solar panel to generate 1 kilowatt of electricity. Several solar panels connected together are called an array.
Secure Those Panels!
In a home solar energy system, solar panel arrays are attached to a fixed surface via a mounting system. Most solar panel arrays are installed on roofs, but they can also be installed on poles, trellises or stand-alone structures.
After solar panel arrays are mounted and all wiring is run, the electrical supply flows to a power inverter. An inverter converts solar panel supplied DC electricity into home and power line friendly alternating current (AC).
Tying It All Together
The final step in getting electricity from your home solar energy system to the local power grid is to connect it to your existing AC circuit breaker panel. Your local power company may require an AC disconnect between the house and the power grid. Always check with your power company before finishing the installation of any solar power system.
Your local power company may also replace your traditional power meter with a bi-directional power meter. A bi-directional power meter will allow the power company to measure how much electricity your system generates and uses.
The history of home solar energy begins at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Although early uses were limited to science and government, solar energy is quickly becoming a practical reality in today's homes.
When considering a home renewable energy source, your first decision will be whether you'll cut the cord to your electric company.