The solar industry has seen a lot of growth in recent years. Between residential solar power systems and commercial ones, there are more than 2 million systems in the US. Tax incentives and rebates can make the initial financial outlay for a solar powered system less of a burden.
If you’re considering solar for your home, though, you may wonder exactly what you’re looking at in terms of equipment. After all, these things usually go on your roof. Keep reading and we’ll do a brief breakdown of the major components of a solar panel system for your home.
Solar panels are the true heart of a residential solar system. The panels do the hard work of converting sunlight into useable electricity. While each home needs an individual assessment, the “average” home gets something in the neighborhood of about 20 panels.
Roof mounting is the most common approach for residential solar panel systems. The panels don’t go directly against your roofing material. There is a racking system that typically employs rails that the installer uses to mount the panels on your roof.
Your solar panels produce electricity, but it comes out of the panels as direct current or DC current. Electrical equipment in the US runs on alternating current or AC current. The inverter transforms the DC from the panels into AC that you can use in your home.
If you get a grid-connect solar energy system and expect to sell some of the electricity you produce, you’ll need a new meter. Meters for grid-connected solar systems must measure both the amount of grid electricity you use. They must also measure the amount of electricity your system feeds back into the grid.
Although solar systems don’t need a lot of maintenance, you need a DC disconnect or shutoff for those times when your system doesn’t require some kind of maintenance. A disconnect also proves helpful if there are severe electrical storms in your area.
While a good system should employ sound grounding, a sufficiently powerful electrical strike on the panel array could still damage your electrical system.
For off-grid solar energy, you’ll need batteries. These batteries store the surplus electricity your system makes during the day and lets you tap that electricity in the evening and at night. Some homeowners also add a backup generator to their off-grid systems as a redundant source of electricity during low output or high-demand periods.
A Solar Powered System and You
A solar powered system can look attractive to homeowners when they consider the tax breaks, rebates, and benefits of solar power. It is still a meaningful amount of equipment with a lot of it sitting on your roof.
Depending on your location, you may also end up choosing between grid-connected or off-grid options, which can change your total equipment load. You can consult with a local solar installer to get a look at the equipment in advance.
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