Solar Electric systems, also known as Photovoltaic (PV) systems, convert sunlight into electricity.
Solar Cells—the basic building blocks of a Solar Electric system—consist of semiconducting materials made mostly of silicon. When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the Solar Energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms. This phenomenon is called the “Photovoltaic Effect”, which was first observed in 1839. These free electrons then travel into a circuit built into the Solar Cell to form electrical current. Only sunlight of certain wavelengths will work efficiently to create electricity. PV systems can still produce electricity on cloudy days, but not as much as on a sunny day.
The basic Solar Cell typically produces only a small amount of power. To produce more power, Solar Cells (usually 60 to 72) can be interconnected to form Solar panels, which are also kown as Solar modules. Solar modules range in output from 10 to 300 watts. Multiple modules are installed on a building or a ground mounted structure to form a Solar Electric “Array”. These Solar modules are guaranteed for 25 years, and have an expected lifetime of 50 years, or more.
Solar Electric arrays can be mounted at a fixed angle facing in a southerly direction, or they can be mounted on a pole mounted tracking device that follows the sun, allowing them to capture the most sunlight over the course of a day. Please look at our “Mounting Options” page for photos, and more information. Solar Electric systems can be designed to meet any sized electrical need.
Grid Tied Solar Electric Systems
A Grid Tied Solar Electric or Photovoltaic (PV) system receives back-up power from a utility’s grid when the PV system is not producing enough power. When the system produces excess power, the utility is required to purchase the power through an arrangement known as “Net Metering” in which the power provider essentially pays you retail price for the electricity you feed back into the grid.
Here’s an example of how Net Metering works in a building equipped with a Solar Electric system: When a building with a Solar Electric system is unoccupied and not using any electricity during sunlight hours, such as some homes, the utility’s electric meter is running backwards and subtracting electric costs (in kilowatt hours, or kWh) from your next bill. If a building with a Solar Electric system is using electricity during sunlight hours, then the utility’s electric meter is tallying up the electric costs much more slowly than it would otherwise, or maybe not at all. The bottom line is; a Solar Electric system will save you money on your electric bills for a long, long time!
Please mouse over our “About Solar” section for more detailed information regarding Solar Electric systems, and to discover all of the reasons it’s such a good idea to get started with the installation of your new Solar Electric system today!