The only way to generate electricity from the sun in your home is with photovoltaic cells or panels. PV cells are usually made from silicon, similar to the material used in computer chips. The good thing about silicon is that it is widely available.

Several photovoltaic cells or panels are connected in a module. They are encapsulated in a glass frame to simplify mounting. The cells or panels are wired in a series or parallel to generate a specified voltage. For example, a 12-volt panel may generate around 16 volts in full sun to charge a 12-volt battery.

Usually, several modules are connected together to form an array. Similar capacity panels can be connected in a series to produce a higher voltage (two 12 volt modules can be connected in a series to generate 24 volts. Generally, several panels can be connected in parallel to give an increased current.

Solar Electricity

A photovoltaic (solar electric) system means photo, “produced by light” voltaic, “electricity produced by a chemical reaction.” You get 100% clean electricity from the sun with a solar electric system. A system consists of five to six major parts that allow you to harness the power of the sun and, in essence, become your own power company.

HOW THE SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM OPERATES

A photovoltaic (solar electric) system means photo, “produced by light” voltaic, “electricity generated by a chemical reaction.” Installing a solar electric system in your home, you get 100% clean electricity directly from the sun. A system consists of five to six major parts that allow you to harness the power of the sun and, in essence, become your own power company.

The Sun as Source of Electricity

Light rays from the sun – those you can see (visible light) and some that you can’t see (ultra-violet) – generate electricity in the panels. The sunlight’s interaction with specific materials like silicon in the PV module frees electrons collected to form direct current (DC) electricity. You can use the DC electricity after converted by an inverter to AC power. PV systems generate power intermittently because they require sunshine to work. Consequently, more electricity is produced on clear and sunny days. A more direct light angle, such as when the sun is perpendicular to PV modules, also produces more electricity. Cloudy days are the enemy of solar energy. Cloudy skies will reduce output. Unfortunately, no power is generated during the night. PV systems generate the most electricity during the summer months when the days are longer, and the sun is higher in the sky.

Solar Panels and Mounting Structures

The photovoltaic panels themselves are the power-producing mechanism for generating electricity from sunlight. Although they are not the most efficient, they are the most convenient to use on a small to medium scale.

Photovoltaic panels are assembled from solar cells. When exposed to sunlight, each cell produces electric power. The manufacture of these cells is a highly technical process similar to that used to make computer chips. The frame or mounting structure consists of aluminum and stainless steel units used to attach the system to the roof of your home, business, or freestanding structure.

The Solar Energy Inverter

The inverter converts direct current (DC) power to alternating current (AC) power like your local power company delivers. This power is used to run the electrical loads in your house. Any extra power will be sent back to the utility for credit (see the California Net Metering Bill section). The inverter is enclosed in a special cabinet that can be mounted inside the home or garage or on an outside wall.

Electrical Panel and Circuit Breaker

The inverter’s power output is usually connected to your home at the main electrical panel (next to your utility meter). A dedicated circuit breaker will be installed for the PV system. If you choose the battery backup option to give you power during a utility outage, a new electrical panel will be installed for essential household circuits. Your existing electrical panel retains non-essential household circuits that do not require power during an outage.

Batteries (Optional Feature)

If you want your system to provide backup power in case of utility power outages, you need batteries. During a power outage, the inverter produces AC power from the batteries. Your solar panels recharge the batteries during the day. If you are looking for a reliable generation system that can function independently of the utility grid, batteries may be a viable component for your system. When making this decision, please be advised that battery systems are not eligible for state rebates unless they are grid-connected.

Solar Energy System Location and Size

The best orientation for a PV system is on south to southwest facing roof; however, east or west-facing roofs may also be acceptable. Flat roofs also work well, and tilting them up to 30 degrees towards the south will maximize your rebate incentive. If a rooftop cannot be used, your PV array can also be installed on a ground anchored rack or trellis.

As a general guideline, each kilowatt of photovoltaics requires about 100 square feet of unobstructed space. First, determine how much electricity you use; and then consider what percentage of your electricity needs the PV system should supply.

Can you run your whole house on solar power?

Homeowners frequently ask questions about solar power’s feasibility. Can it really power my entire house? The answer is quite simple. Solar power can power your entire home. But explaining exactly how solar energy powers homes is a bit more complicated.

You have a unique home, and it will require a unique amount of solar panels to convert the sun’s energy into the energy you can use to power your entire home. You need to install your solar panels at the perfect angle, in the perfect spot, to optimize sun intake. Installing your solar panels in the perfect can make all the difference regarding energy.

How many solar panels are needed to power a house?

“How many solar panels will my house need?” This is a common question homeowners interested in installing a solar energy system ask. Planning the number of solar panels your house will require is based upon several critical factors.

Let’s look at how you can determine how many solar panels you need to power your home:

  • Your energy consumption – The deciding factor on the total number of solar panels you need for your home is the current energy usage. This process requires the analysis of “Kilowatt Hours Used” (kWh). A small home located in a mild climate might use about 200 kWh each month. Larger homes where aid conditioning a must might require about 2,000 kWh. The average house in America uses about 900 kWh each month.
  • Average hours of sunshine in your area – The number of sunlight hours will directly impact how much energy you can expect your solar system to generate.
  • How much energy do you want to offset? You have to find a balance to avoid installing too few or too many panels.

HOW THE SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM OPERATES

In a photovoltaic (solar electric) system, electricity is “produced by light.” More specifically, the electricity is created by a chemical reaction. Using a solar electric system, you get 100% clean electricity from the sun. A system consists of five to six major parts that allow you to harness the power of the sun and, in essence, become your own power company.

The Sun as Source

Light rays from the sun – those you can see (visible light) and some that you can’t see (ultra-violet) – generate electricity in the panels. The sunlight’s interaction with silicon in the PV module frees electrons to form direct current (DC) electricity. Once an inverter converts DC electricity to AC power, it is ready to use in your home.

PV systems generate power intermittently because they work only when the sun is shining. More electricity is generated on a clear, sunny day and with a more direct light angle, as when the sun is perpendicular to PV modules. Cloudy days will decrease electricity output. No power is generated at night. PV systems produce the most electricity during the summer months when the sun is higher in the sky and the days are longer.

Solar Panels and Mounting Structures

The photovoltaic panels themselves are the power-producing mechanism. They are built from solar cells. Every solar cell produces electric power when exposed to sunlight. The manufacture of these cells is a highly technical process similar to that used to make computer chips. The frame or mounting structure consists of aluminum and stainless steel units used to attach the system to the roof of your home, business, or freestanding structure.

The Inverter

The inverter converts DC power to AC power as your local power company delivers. This power is used to run the electrical loads in your house. Any extra power will be sent back to the utility for credit (see the California Net Metering Bill section). The inverter is stored in an attractive cabinet that can be mounted inside the home or garage or on an outside wall.

Electrical Panel and Circuit Breaker

The inverter’s power output is usually connected to your home at the main electrical panel (next to your utility meter). A dedicated circuit breaker will be installed for the PV system. If you choose the battery backup option to give you power during a utility outage, a new electrical panel will be installed for essential household circuits. The current electrical panel retains non-essential household circuits that do not require power during an outage.

Batteries (Optional Feature)

Batteries are generally included in the system to provide backup power in case of utility power outages. During a power outage, the inverter produces AC power from the batteries. The solar panels recharge the batteries during the day. If you are looking for a reliable generation system that can function independently of the utility grid, batteries may be a viable component for your system. When making this decision, please be advised that battery systems are not eligible for state rebates unless they are grid-connected.

System Location and Size

The best orientation for a PV system is on south to southwest facing roof; however, roofs that face west or east may also work. Flat roofs also work well, and tilting them up to 30 degrees towards the south will maximize your rebate incentive. If a rooftop cannot be used, your PV array can also be installed on a ground anchored rack or trellis.

As a general guideline, each kilowatt of photovoltaics requires about 100 square feet of unobstructed space. First, determine how much electricity you use; and then consider what percentage of your electricity needs the PV system should supply.