HOW SOLAR WORKS?
EVERY DAY, LIGHT HITS YOUR ROOF'S SOLAR PANELS WITH PHOTONS (PARTICLES OF SUNLIGHT). THE SOLAR PANEL CONVERTS THOSE PHOTONS INTO ELECTRONS OF DIRECT CURRENT ("DC") ELECTRICITY. THE ELECTRONS FLOW OUT OF THE SOLAR PANEL AND INTO AN INVERTER AND OTHER ELECTRICAL SAFETY DEVICES. THE INVERTER CONVERTS THAT "DC" POWER (COMMONLY USED IN BATTERIES) INTO ALTERNATING CURRENT OR "AC" POWER. AC POWER IS THE KIND OF ELECTRICAL THAT YOUR TELEVISION, COMPUTER, AND TOASTERS USE WHEN PLUGGED INTO THE WALL OUTLET.
A NET ENERGY METER KEEPS TRACK OF THE ALL THE POWER YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM PRODUCES. ANY SOLAR ENERGY THAT YOU DO NOT USE SIMULTANEOUS WITH PRODUCTION WILL GO BACK INTO THE ELECTRICAL GRID THROUGH THE METER. AT NIGHT OR ON CLOUDY DAYS, WHEN YOUR SYSTEM IS NOT PRODUCING MORE THAN YOUR BUILDING NEEDS, YOU WILL CONSUME ELECTRICITY FROM THE GRID AS NORMAL. YOUR UTILITY WILL BILL YOU FOR THE "NET" CONSUMPTION FOR ANY GIVEN BILLING PERIOD AND PROVIDE YOU WITH A DOLLAR CREDIT FOR ANY EXCESS DURING A GIVEN PERIOD. YOU CAN CARRY YOUR BILL CREDIT FORWARD FOR UP TO A YEAR.
IS MY HOME OR BUSINESS A GOOD PLACE FOR A PV SYSTEM?
First consider how much sunlight your property receives. Your property should have a clear, unobstructed access to the sun for most of the day, and throughout the year.
In California, the sun is in the southern half of the sky and produces more PV electricity than in the northern part. Because shading will reduce the amount of electricity your system will produce, PV panels should be installed in a location that is not significantly shaded by trees, chimneys or nearby structures.
The best orientation for a PV system is on a south-facing roof; roofs that face east or west may also be acceptable. Flat roofs can also work because the PV array can be mounted on frames tilting south; a PV array can also be mounted on the ground.