How a Rooftop Solar Array Creates Electricity for Your Home

Install a rooftop solar array, and you’ll have a steady supply of free electricity. Your PV panels will power all of your home appliances and electronic devices, slashing – or even eliminating – your monthly energy costs.

But how does all of this actually happen?

Solar Panels Capture Energy from the Sun

Sunlight contains energy. When light from the sun hits something here on earth, this energy usually turns into heat – think of the warmth of your skin when you’re outside on a bright sunny day and you’ll get the picture.

When the sun’s rays hit a rooftop solar array, however, the energy creates an electrical current instead of heat. Certain materials – including crystalline silicone, the main component of most PV panels – produce electricity when struck by sunlight.

This phenomenon, known as the photovoltaic effect, is the reason you can rely on a solar array for a reliable source of power.

Inverters Transform the Energy into Usable Electricity

As the sun shines down on a rooftop solar array, the PV panels produce direct current (DC) electricity – which, despite the name, cannot directly power your appliances and electronic devices.

Here in the U.S., we use alternating current (AC) electricity in our homes. To transform the current from DC to AC, solar arrays always include inverters. Some rooftop systems have a string inverter to handle the power conversion for all of the PV panels. Other arrays have separate micro-inverters attached to each solar module.

In a nutshell, the PV panels generate power from sunlight, then the inverter converts that power into electricity you can use in your home.

What if Your Rooftop Solar Array Produces Too Much Electricity?

Depending upon the size of your solar array, your PV panels may produce more electricity than you need. The excess won’t go to waste, however.

If your rooftop PV panels connected to the utility grid, that’s where the extra power will go. Your meter will keep track of how much electricity you send to the grid, and you’ll see a credit on your utility bill.

If yours is a hybrid solar system, the excess energy will charge your batteries to provide you with a source of power in the event of a blackout. Once the batteries are full, any extra electricity your PV panels create will go to the utility grid.

If you install an off-grid solar array, the energy you don’t immediately need will be stored in your battery bank. You’ll use this electricity for home power at night and during cloudy weather.

Are you considering powering your Intermountain West home with solar energy? If you have questions about PV panels or solar electricity – or anything else having to do with photovoltaic power -- the experienced professional contractors at Intermountain Wind & Solar are happy to provide answers.

Intermountain Wind & Solar, a leading photovoltaic provider serving Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon and Nevada for over a decade, offers free consultations to give homeowners an opportunity to easily explore their options. If you’re interested in installing a rooftop solar array and need expert advice, contact us today.

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