Solar Basics

Solar Basics

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems convert light from the sun into electricity. Solar cells produce direct current (DC) electricity from light, which can be used to power DC equipment or to recharge a battery.

The basic photovoltaic cell produces only a small amount of power. Cells can be interconnected to form modules, which can, in turn, be connected to arrays to produce yet more power. Because of this modularity, photovoltaic systems can be designed to meet any electrical requirement, no matter how large or how small.

Adding batteries to your photovoltaic system will also provide a secure backup source of electricity for your home. An inverter is required to convert the DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity to power almost all uses of electricity in the home.

Factors that affect the cost-effectiveness of a photovoltaic system

Depending on your specific need and location, there are some factors that affect cost-effectiveness, including:

  • System Size – Because of economies of scale, large systems cost less per watt than small systems.

  • Installation Complexity – More complex installations, including mounting systems on racks, working around obstructions, or on tile roofs can be more expensive.

  • System Production – Installing your system at the optimal orientation and tilt will maximize system production. The more energy your system produces over time, the lower the cost per kilowatt hour.

  • Operation and Maintenance – Compared to other distributed energy technologies, operation, and maintenance costs of photovoltaic systems are relatively low. Costs may include occasional cleaning of photovoltaic modules, regular visual inspections, and possible repair or replacement of the inverter and/or components after some years.

  • Financial Incentives – Federal tax credits and other incentives may be available to help lower the effective costs of investments in photovoltaic systems. 

More Information on Solar Energy

Solar Energy Basics