Residential > Solar Electric

Overview

Solar electric systems are the ideal way to produce your very own power, cutting your monthly energy bills, allowing for energy independence, or even going completely off the grid.

These systems are available in small and large sizes, can be custom sized to fit your household, and allow you great independence and energy savings. In many areas, the electricity produced can even be sold back to the grid for even more savings or a profit.

Benefits of Solar Electric PV Systems

Cut your electric bills: The energy from the sun is free, so once you've paid for the initial cost of your solar pv system, you generate free electricity – with no cost to you.

Generate money with your PV system: In many areas, there are SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) that you generate for the power your PV system produces – even if you use the power. These credits can be sold every month, generating income – while still reducing your electric bills.

Sell energy to the grid: With grid-connected PV systems, you can often sell the energy you don't use back to the power company (aka, the grid). This often results in a credit, or even income paid to you by the power company.

Contribute to a clean environment: Solar energy in all forms is clean, and contributes to a reduced carbon footprint. Renewable energy, unlike fossil fuels, doesn't release harmful gases or pollutants. By installing a solar PV system, you contribute to reducing your own personal carbon foot print, as well as help sustain a clean environment for the planet.

Energy independence: A solar PV system gives you independence and freedom from electric rate hikes and cost increases, and many systems can be configured to provide power during storms, blackouts, and other power outages. No noisy or costly gas generators, or inconvenient power losses, a solar PV system can give you the energy independence you deserve.

How a PV System Works

(1) When sunlight strikes the solar array, the panels begin to produce electricity. The electricity produced by solar PV panels is direct current (DC) electricity.

In order for your home to safely use this energy, it must first be converted from DC to AC (alternating current), which is what most homes use today.

 

(2) The DC power is fed into a solar inverter, where it is converted from DC to AC so the electricity will be compatible. Different types of solar inverters are used, depending on application.

For example, micro-inverters are a type of solar inverter that is mounted on the solar panel itself.

AC solar panels are also used, which produce AC current, and do not need to be run through a separate inverter. String inverters are very common as well, as they allow a number of PV panels to be fed into one device for conversion.

 

(3) The AC power is then fed into your service panel, so that the power can be supplied to various loads, such as your lights, refrigerator, or TV.

 

(4) When a surplus of power is generated (you are producing more power than you are using), the excess electricity is fed through your utility meter. In some areas, there is a separate utility meter for power being produced.

 

(5) This energy is then fed back to your power grid, which the power company will buy back from you. This can result in a credit, or in generating income in some areas, for energy you aren't using.

This is just one example of a grid-tied solar pv system. Other configurations, such as off-grid systems, or systems with battery backup are used as well. Grid-tied systems, however, are by far the most commonly installed PV systems. For more information on other types of systems, please contact us.

Applications

Packages

Solar Panels Plus offers complete home solar electric PV systems for locations all over the USA. These solar PV systems have been engineered and packaged to seamlessly integrate into your home's current electrical grid.

Available in a number of sizes and power outputs, these packages allow you to generate your own power for free, and drastically cut your electric bills - regardless if your power consumption is small or large.

These packages include the following components:

Solar PV Panels

The solar PV panel array is the primary component in any home solar pv system. The PV panels used can be specified as Buy American Act Compliant, and come backed by a full 25-year warranty - ensuring reliable, free energy generation for decades to come.

These panels are UL tested and certified, complying with international safety standards. They are available in various sizes, such as a 230W and a 270W panel. These PV panels are also eligible for federal, state, and local rebates - drastically reducing the upfront cost of your entire solar pv system. For a full listing of incentives, please visit www.dsireusa.org.

Solar PV packages are sized for various electrical loads, and can contain as little as 6-8 PV panels, or as many as 20 or more PV panels. Various sizes are available depending on your electrical consumption, or we can quickly and easily size a custom package to meet your specific electrical demands and budget.

Our solar AC module can also be included in packages, making solar PV more affordable than ever before.

More information on our Solar PV Panels.

More information on our Solar AC Modules.

Solar Inverter

The solar inverter is another critical component to a home's solar PV system. The solar inverter takes the direct current (DC) power generated by PV panels, and converts it to usable alternating current (AC) so it can be safely used to power appliances and items in your home - or fed back to the power grid.

Solar inverters are available in two types of technologies - string inverters and micro inverters. Both types of solar inverters are included in our packages, and are available for home application.

String inverters allow all the solar panels to be wired together, and then fed into a single device. Our string inverters are American Made, high efficiency, and are backed by a full 10-year warranty.

Each string inverter has been sized to match the number of panels in each package, taking into consideration temperature variances, voltage, amperage, and the voltage and phase of the home.

Options are available for these inverters, such as remote & web based monitoring.

Micro-inverters are mounted onto each individual pv panel at the time of installation, inverting the electrical current from DC to AC right at the source. Our micro inverters are available from a number of manufactures, such as the well-known Enphase. They are reliable, high performance, and sized to match the number of panels in each system.

Micro-inverters also allow for increased customization options, giving you the freedom to get the exact power output you want for your home. Or you can come back later and add more panels easily, allowing you to slowly build up the size of your solar PV system over time.

 

More information on our solar inverters

PV Racking

Each package includes a set of PV racking for your system. The racking is crucial for safe and easy mounting of your PV panels. Various options are available for racking, increasing the flexibility of where your PV panels are installed.

Roof mounting, ground mounting, and pole mounting options are just a few of the types available for your home PV system.

Ground mount or pole mount PV mounting systems can be used to install PV panels if you don't have the roof space or if shading is a problem.

 

More information on our solar pv roof mount racking systems.

More information on our solar pv pole & ground mount racking systems.

Charge Controllers

Charge controllers are included in our off-grid and battery backup pv systems. Charge controllers are a crucial part of any pv system that includes battery backup for storage.

These controllers use the latest technology to improve the lifespan of your batteries, and give you optimal charge for longer. They allow you to get the most out of your investment in an off-grid or battery backup system.

More information on our solar charge controllers.

PV Components & Balance of System

A number of other items are also included in each package that is built for your solar installer. This allows your installer to shop at a single place, and receive one shipment with everything he needs for a fast, safe, and simple install. Batteries, wiring, cables, and much more are available. For more information, please contact us.

FAQs

  1. What is a PV panel?
  2. What are the benefits of using PV solar systems?
  3. What is a grid-tied solar system?
  4. What is an off-grid solar system?
  5. How much roof space does a PV system need?
  6. How long will a solar panel system last?
  7. What are the different types of PV panels?
  8. How do I decide how large my PV solar system should be?
  9. How are solar panels tested and rated?
  10. How much power will a solar PV system produce?

10. What is a PV panel?

A PV solar panel, referred to in the industry as a solar module, is constructed by connecting photovoltaic cells (or PV cells) to produce electricity. The cells are a semiconductor-based technology that converts solar radiation into direct current (DC) electricity. Solar panels for grid-connected home or business use typically use 60 or 72 PV cells.

17. What are the benefits of using PV solar systems?

By utilizing PV solar cells, home or business owners are able to generate electricity from sunlight saving money and avoiding the harmful pollution generated by traditional methods of generating electricity. This solar generated energy is used to offset or replace power that would normally be purchased from the utility.

18. What is a grid-tied solar system?

98% of PV solar panels installed in the USA are grid-tied systems, meaning that the system is tied to the power grid (local electric power utility company). The solar power is added to the grid power, reducing the amount of power that must be purchased from the utility.

19. What is an off-grid solar system?

An off-grid solar energy system is where there is no connection to the utility company power grid. This type of installation requires a charge-controller, a bank of batteries and in most cases an inverter, so that electric power requirements can be met at night or during cloudy conditions.

20. How much roof space does a PV system need?

A typical solar panel of 200Wp will measure about 17 square feet. Depending on installation factors, the required square footage of roof space will be somewhat larger than simply the area of the panels. Based on your information, once our engineering department has determined the required angle, shading factors, etc. we can give you a more accurate number.

21. How long will a solar panel system last?

Solar panels are known to last 40 years or longer. Typical guarantees of a solar panel include five years workmanship and materials warranty and a 20-25 year performance warranty. The typical PV panel performance warranty will guarantee 90% of rated production for 10-15 years, and 80% for 20-25 years. Solar panels are designed to withstand hail, severe wind and weather conditions assuming proper installation.

30. What are the different types of PV panels?

There are currently four main types of solar PV panels:

Monocyrstalline - these are made from cells created by cutting thin slices from single crystal silicon block and are higher in efficiency, but also higher in cost per watt. They are easy to spot because they have a smooth even color, usually black.

Polycrystalline – these are made from cells created by cutting thin slices from polycrystal silicon block and are slightly lower in efficiency, but also lower in cost per watt. Polycyrstal silicon is the “chicken nugget” of silicon, made by combining many individual crystals. They are easy to spot because they have an uneven color, usually blue.

Multicrystalline – a different term for polycrystalline.

Thin film – these are made by depositing a thin layer of very finely powdered silicon (amorphous silicon) or other photovoltaic material, on a substrate. These are much lower in efficiency that crystalline cells, and somewhat cheaper per watt. They are a good choice for large ground mounted utility scale solar arrays where real estate is plentiful. Their low efficiency makes them undesirable for commercial and residential applications because they consume a large amount of roof space compared to mono or poly panels.

31. How do I decide how large my PV solar system should be?

Typically the best return on investment is when you target the average power in watts used during the month with the lowest electric bill. Most net metering programs do not let you carry forward a credit, meaning that when you produce more solar electricity than your total consumption, it is wasted. Actually it is not wasted, it is just given free to the power company who will sell it to someone else

32. How are solar panels tested and rated?

PV panels installed in the USA must be tested to UL 1703 standard and in California, also to IEC 61730. They can be tested and certified by any NRTL (nationally recognized testing laboratory) like UL, CSA, ETL, TUV etc. For consumer purposes, the main rating to consider is the watts rating, which is expressed at watts-peak (Wp) which is the amount of peak power produced under STC (standard test conditions).

33. How much power will a solar PV system produce?

You would calculate the total production of a system by determining the annual production of a single panel and multiplying it by the number of panels, then reduce this value to account for inefficiencies. A professional approach would be to use a calculator like PVWatts or RetScreen. This approach will consider the NASA data for insolation at the location, the expected weather and temperature conditions, the orientation (angle and azimuth) of the installation and other factors.

Each system will produce a different amount of power based on the system size, orientation, insolation, etc. A quick look at our solar insolation map will give you an idea of average annual sunlight conditions for your area. A quick, free telephone or email consultation with our sales team will help you be able make a good estimate of your potential. Just give us a call.