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Powering Your California Home With Solar

Powering Your California Home With Solar – How It Works

Converting your California home to solar power is quite possibly the cleanest, most efficient form of renewable energy available in California, and that power can be used in various ways to help you power your home. Solar powered photovoltaic (PV) panels (Solar Panels) are designed to convert the sun’s rays into usable electricity by exciting the electrons in manufactured silicon cell structures using the natural photons from the sunlight. After this energy is created and stored, it can then be used to generate renewable electricity for your home. 

When California residents begin their research on solar panels there are always questions about the technology and the requirements needed for system maintenance. Fortunately, there is little to no maintenance involved with owning solar panels, and if you are in a solar lease like most homeowners, the repair and maintenance of the solar system is covered on the equipment being leased. To get a better idea about what goes into setting up a solar system on your home, we will talk about the physical installation of the equipment and what you can expect from the individual components.

The Solar Roof System

Because of the abundance of sunlight, solar panels are typically installed on the roof of your home. In places like California where tree coverage can be dense, there may be other options for installing solar panels in open areas like open fields and hillsides. For homeowners living in Corona, the rooftop installation is most common. Having solar panels that are exposed to direct sunlight during peak sunlight hours benefit most when converting and storing energy. If there are any trees shading your roof, the solar panels should be installed to avoid the shade and gain maximum exposure to the sun. Heavily shaded areas will limit the amount of power generated from the solar panels and should be avoided for maximum production. 

If you are considering solar for your home, you will want to evaluate the real estate on your rooftop and make certain that there is minimum shade prior to installation. With solar, having just a single cell shaded can reduce the production of solar energy by up to half. The installation of the panels on your roof should be installed to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight. This may require the solar installation company to set up and frame the panels at angles other than that of your roof slope. There are also pivoting panels that are designed to track the sun as it rotates in the sky, this option comes with a higher price tag but guarantees optimal performance.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are also commonly referred to as modules, these modules house PV cells that have been created using silicon. The cells are designed to transform broad sunlight into electricity. The P in (PV) stands for “electricity from light”. The P stands for “Photo” (light) and the V stands for “Voltaic” (electricity). The design of the PV cell is extremely interesting. The PV cell is made up of a positive and negative film of silicon that is then positioned beneath a very thin layer of glass. When the sunlight shines down on the cell, the photons of the sun push the electrons off of the silicon strip. The electrons are then drawn to one side of the silicon cell, and that creates an electrical volt. That voltage can then be harnessed, stored, and distributed for electricity. The electricity is transferred through a set of proprietary PV cables that feed the electrical box. This unique box is also referred to as a “fused array combiner”. From there the power is transferred to an inverter where the direct current (DC Electricity) is converted into an alternating current (AC Electricity) that can then be transferred and used for your home.  

The Inverter

The inverter box is typically located on the outside of the home near the electrical panel. It should be accessible to read and perform maintenance on. The inverter itself can be noisy, so you should consider the location of the installation before committing to a permanent place. If your bedroom rests against the wall that the installation company wants to mount the box too, you should be advised that it does make noise and consider relocating it away from areas that need to be quiet. The noise comes from converting the DC current into a 120-volt AC current that can be used immediately when connected to a solar-specific circuit breaker located in the electrical panel. The electricity generated from the inverter will be used first by the demands of your home and then anything left over will be sent to the power grid. This usually results in a credit from the power company.

Net Meter

When a solar system is installed and connects to the utility grid, it produced DC power that is then converted into 120/240 volt AC power and routed into the buildings utility power distribution system. That power that is distributed is “net metered” which indicates that the power being generated is actually reducing the load on the utility when the solar system is efficiently generating electricity and as a result lowers your energy bill.

Additional Benefits of Going Solar

As a result of lowering your homes energy bills, these solar systems begin to pay for themselves immediately and help lessen your footprint on the environment by reducing the air pollution being emitted from the big energy companies. One of the perks that home solar panels provides is called “peak load generating capacity”. This helps the utility companies during peak energy times and lessens the need for dependency on expensive, pollution generating power systems. The more homes in California that are using solar panels, the less dependent we become on the power companies to generate that power for us. Having the ability to contribute to the power grid and give back to the community while saving yourself money on your power bill is a win-win solution for everyone.