How Does a PV Solar Power System Work?

Are you a homeowner interested in switching to solar energy to power your home, but don’t want to take the plunge, thinking the solar system will be too costly, and a hassle to maintain? In reality, you can enjoy all the benefits of solar energy, such as paying less for your electric bill and helping the environment, without paying for the actual installation, metering, maintenance and repairs of the solar system.

PV Solar Panels on a Zero Energy Home

A number of clean energy service companies around the US, now provide a full range of solar energy residential solutions for homeowners, making the switch easy, convenient and without any up-front costs.

How does solar power work?

There are 4 basic parts to a solar system:

1. Solar panels. These are made up of of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight into direct current (DC) power. They are installed on the roof, so that they can catch sunlight all day long, until the sun goes down.

2. Inverter. Your home cannot use this DC power directly, so this DC current gets sent from the PV solar panels to an inverter. The inverter converts DC current into alternating current (AC) power, which is the standard electrical current used to power homes.

3. Electrical Panel. From the inverter, AC power travels to the electrical panel, also known as a breaker box. At this point, this power can be used in your home.

4. Utility Meter. A solar system comes equipped with a special utility meter that constantly measures the amount of electricity that is being produced. Once your home electrical needs have been met, the meter turns backward, and starts counting the excess kilowatts of solar energy that you will sell back to the grid, thereby lowering your monthly utility bill.

Where does a house get electricity when there is no sun?

When it is cloudy, solar panels will generate a little less energy than on a bright sunny day. They will not generate any electricity during the night. However, there is no reason for you to worry about not having power, since your solar system is actually connected to your local utility grid. This means that you will automatically draw power from the grid whenever your home needs it. This switch from one system to the other is seamless and requires no effort on your part.

What is involved in the installation process of a solar system?

When you call a clean energy service provider to request the switch to solar power, the first step is evaluating the energy needs your home. A solar energy specialist will come in and do a free extensive evaluation of your home’s energy needs to determine the size of the solar system that would be most effective in your case. The size of your house directly affects the amount of kilowatts needed to power it, therefore the bigger your house, the greater the number of PV solar panels that will need to be installed.

Solar Panels on a basic asphalt shingle roof

Once the correct size of a solar system appropriate for your needs is determined, a crew will come in, and install a PV solar power system on your roof. There is no charge for the equipment or the installation. A typical residential roof installation may take about 3-5 days, and will depend on the complexity of your roof and the number of solar panels being installed.

Your solar energy provider will obtain all building permits and design your system to meet all required building codes in your area.

How do I pay for solar electricity?

Different clean energy providers offer a number of payment options for solar energy, and you need to find out the specific terms offered by your local provider. One common option is to pay per KWT of energy that you use. Typically, in this arrangement, you can choose to buy the system after your contract is over, or you can simply extend the contract.

Another option is to pay for solar electricity on a monthly basis, the same way you would pay your local electric company. The only difference would be that you would be paying less for cleaner energy. In this arrangement, you may not be able to purchase the system at the end of the contract. Other options may include, prepaying for electricity to lower your monthly bill, or paying a very large amount of money up front, so that you do not have to pay for electricity at all for a certain amount of time.

Do I have to pay for maintenance, repairs and insurance?

As a homeowner you can enjoy all the benefits of solar energy without paying for maintenance and repairs. The company constantly monitors your solar system’s performance and if something goes wrong, a service crew will be dispatched to get your solar system back online right away. Since the company owns the equipment, it is also responsible for any repairs that need to be done, such as replacing an inverter. Typically, the company would also offer free insurance coverage that protects the system against theft or damage.

What are my savings?

If you choose the option of paying for solar energy without buying the system, you will enjoy monthly savings on your electric bill. Depending on the amount of energy your panels produce and regulations of your local utility company, you may be able to save as much as 50% on your monthly bill. You will also save by locking in this lower monthly rate for the term of your contract. By comparison, conventional utility companies raise the price for electricity every year about about 5-7%.

In conclusion:

In case you decide to purchase a solar system, depending on federal and state rebates you get, you may be able to recoup your financial investment in 5-10 years. In the process you will enjoy lower energy bills, and once the system is paid off, you will actually earn money for selling your excess energy back to the grid.


  1. I have been interested in solar power for camping, and would like to use solar power on my house, as well. Unfortunately, I do not think I can afford the cost of solar panels at present. Are there any other options?

    1. It is not necessary to pay for solar panels upfront. In fact, with many PV solar installers and solar leasing companies, you can get a professionally installed PV solar power system without any upfront costs. – They have many options that make it possible to pay less for your home’s electric usage than you currently pay without any additional costs or expenses.

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