Solar Photovoltaic (PV)

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (also known as solar panels or solar power systems) convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Overview

Solar PV Explained by DOE

Solar Panels on a Home

Solar Leasing Explained

Thin Film Solar PV Installation at a Walmart

Pole Mounted PV Panels

Pole Mounted PV Panel

Solar Power Inverter

Solar Photovoltaic Technology, Invented in 1954, is Well-Proven for Residential and Commercial Applications.

  • Scientists at Bell Telephone discovered that silicon (an element found in sand) created an electric charge when exposed to sunlight. This finding soon lead to the development of solar cells used to power space satellites as well as smaller items like calculators and watches. (Source: Department of Energy)
  • Today, thousands of people power their homes and businesses with solar panels.
  • Over 100,000 solar power systems were installed in the U.S. in 2010 alone
  • Utility companies are also developing solar farms capable of producing more electricity than traditional coal or nuclear power plants.

Solar Panels are Highly Durable, Generally Have a Warranty of 25 years and Can Last for Over 40 Years.

  • Inverters carry warranties of 10 years and can last over 20 years. (Inverters convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) which is used to power lights and appliances.)
  • PV systems have few moving / mechanical parts, minimizing equipment failures.

Solar Power Systems are Practically Maintenance-Free.

  • Require limited or no maintenance.
  • Don't need to be washed or cleaned.

Can Be Installed Almost Anywhere in the United States.

  • Most locations in the United States get enough sunlight to produce sufficient electricity.
  • While southern states gets more sunlight, the southern Sun causes some solar panels to lose efficiency because they become too hot.

The System is Tied to the Grid and Does Not Require Batteries to Store Power.

  • Solar power systems generally operate in conjunction with electricity supplied from your electric utility, ensuring a constant power supply.
  • States with net-metering laws allow owners to sell any extra electricity their systems produce back to the grid. Most states in the U.S. have passed net metering laws.
  • Less frequently, PV systems are used by their owners to power batteries that are then used to power lights and appliances "off the grid," without any utility connection.

Solar Power Systems Can Eliminate Most Of, If Not All, Electricity Bills.

  • Systems generally produce more electricity in the summer months, when the days are longer, and less in the winter months, when the days are shorter.
  • When the system produces extra electricity, it feeds it into the grid for others to use, and your meter runs in reverse.
  • If your system produces more electricity than you need, you sell it back to the grid – your meter actually runs in reverse. When you're using more electricity than what your system is producing you get it from your utility via the grid. You only pay for the net electricity you buy via the grid.
  • If in a given year your system produces extra electricity, the utility company will send you a check for the power your system sold to the grid. (Alternatively, the utility will send you a bill if you consumed more power than your system produced.)

Solar Power Systems are Most Suitable for Consumers Who Have High Electricity Consumption and/or Expensive Electricity Rates.

The System is Suitable for Consumers Who Have Space Available On the Roof or the Ground to Install Solar Panels.

  • Roof-mounting solar PV
    • If roof is sloped, one side should face south;
    • If roof is flat, it must have sufficient room to install solar panels;
    • The roof should be relatively new--the panels have a useful life of 25 years or more;
    • The roof must be able to bear the added weight of the solar panels; and
    • The roof should not be obstructed / shaded by trees or other tall buildings
  • Ground-mounting solar PV
    • There must be sufficient cleared space on the lot to install solar panels; and
    • That space must not be obstructed / shaded by trees or adjacent tall buildings.