The Basics of a Solar Home System

The Basics of a Solar Home System

The Basics of a Solar Home System

Solar Home Systems provide a clean alternative to more polluting energy sources like kerosene lamps. They also help to reduce the cost of living for off-grid populations.

Many homeowners choose to purchase their system outright, which allows them to take advantage of federal tax incentives. Others may qualify for a mortgage or home equity line of credit to finance the installation.

Solar Panels

Solar panels, also known as PV modules, are the ‘bread and butter’ of your home solar system. They contain semiconductors that generate electricity from sunlight. Sunlight reaches the solar panel through a glass or plastic surface and penetrates through its cells. These semiconductors are able to create electric current by ‘knocking’ electrons free from atoms. The free electrons form a flow of electricity that’s transferred to and consumed by appliances in your house or sold back to the grid.

The best place for your solar panels is on a sunny part of your property. Open spaces with clear views work well – roofs are commonly used for their ability to capture large amounts of sunlight, but they can also be mounted on stands in your yard. Shaded areas, however, should be avoided – solar panels with their thin semiconductor layers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of shadowing.

Your solar inverter converts the direct current (DC) power from your solar panels into the alternating current (AC) needed to run household appliances. The inverter will also detect whether or not your solar panels are producing at maximum efficiency. Solar systems with batteries can store some of their output so that you have energy even when the sun is not shining. This will help reduce your reliance on the national power grid and further lower your energy costs.


The inverter converts DC electricity from the solar panels to AC electricity that can be used to power your appliances. There are two main types of inverters: string inverters and microinverters. A string inverter collects all of the electricity from the solar panels and converts it to AC in one location. A microinverter converts the electricity to AC right at the panel, reducing the cost of your system and making it more efficient.

Choosing an inverter is important because it determines the amount of energy your solar home system produces. You’ll want to look for an inverter with a SOLAR HOME SYSTEM high rated power, low harmonic distortion and fast MPPT tracking. You’ll also want to consider the inverter’s size, quality and telemetry capabilities.

In addition to determining the overall output power, you should look at the inverter’s peak load rating. A solar inverter with a high peak load rating can handle the starting surge of an electric motor or other heavy appliances.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want to lease or purchase your solar system. If you choose to lease, you’ll pay less upfront but won’t be eligible for the federal investment tax credit (ITC), which is 30 percent of the system’s upfront cost. If you choose to purchase, you’ll get the ITC and will own your system.


Adding solar batteries to your system increases energy savings through load shifting and improves outage protection. But, it’s important to consider your household energy usage and how you plan to use the battery before making a final decision.

A typical backup battery will last between five to 15 years. They will likely separated solar street light need to be replaced at least once over the 25- or 30-year lifespan of your solar panel array.

When using the battery in solar self-consumption mode, the battery charges on sun during the day and discharges to power essential systems like lights, water heating and kitchen appliances during peak time-of-use (typically 4-9 pm). When a utility outage occurs, the battery will provide electricity until the home’s utility power is restored.

Solar battery manufacturers typically offer a warranty on their products. It is important to know the warranty details to ensure your system can achieve its expected performance. This includes a warranty for throughput and the number of cycles.

If you’re looking for a battery with a longer life than lead-acid, lithium is the way to go. You’ll also want to choose a manufacturer that offers a clear and transparent pricing model for their batteries, as well as installation and maintenance services.

Electrical Panel

The electrical panel is what ties the solar system to your home or business. The panel distributes electricity from the utility company to each circuit, and also provides over-current protection by shutting off (or ‘tripping’) when it detects dangerous conditions.

Most electric panels are a metal box with a cover that is held in place by screws or a removable door. Removing the cover provides access to the main circuit breaker switches inside. This is a safety issue and should only be done by an electrician.

Electric panels come in a variety of sizes with different capacities or ‘amps.’ The capacity of a panel should be matched to the overall electrical load for that location. A capacity that is too low can result in frequent ‘tripping’ of the circuit breakers, while an over-sized panel can increase energy costs and lead to overheating or other problems.

When the sun is shining, your solar panel system will typically produce more energy than you need. Many states have policies that allow you to sell back any excess to your local power company, so you can save on electricity bills.

If your panel has no labels on the single switch circuits, it’s a good idea to label them. This will help you understand which circuits are connected to which devices and appliances.

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