How Solar Works

Here you can learn about solar electric power and how a solar photovoltaic (PV) system works to convert sunlight to electricity and adds value to your home or business.

Basic Components of a solar electric power system:

How solar works

All the modules are connected together in “strings”, like strings of lights on a Christmas tree.  The electric current flows into inverters.Solar modules or “panels” in a photovoltaic (solar PV) array are made up of dozens of thin cells made of silicon, the most abundant ingredient in the earth’s crust.  Inside each solar cell billions of electrons get excited when the rays of the sun shine on the modules.  In their excited state the electrons produce an electric current.  Solder strips direct the current to a connector on the bottom side of each module.

Solar PV systems produce direct current or DC, like a flashlight, or like a car’s electrical system uses.  Since our homes and businesses are powered by AC or alternating current, the solar electricity must be converted to AC electricity  to connect with the power grid.

Inverters are complex electronic components that convert the current from DC to AC .  They make sure that the solar PV system functions correctly and safely and interconnects perfectly with your power company’s electric grid.

After the solar power has been converted to AC, the electricity flows into your breaker panel, where it becomes available to your home or business.

A production meter will be installed to measure the amount of electricity your system produces. Your utility in Washington State calculates your incentive payment and will send you a check once a year.

Your present electric meter will be replaced with a “bi-directional” meter which measures your electric consumption against the amount of power your solar PV system produces.  The utility credits you for all the power your system produces against what you consume.

If your PV system produces the same amount or less current than you are using in a year’s time,  you are credited for every bit of power your system produces, against your electric bill.  If your PV system produces more power than you consume, the extra power is claimed by the utility and you will not be compensated.