Solar electric systems generate electricity silently and without any moving parts. Sunlight falls on the solar panels generating DC electricity. That DC electricity is then converted into household 120/240V AC electricity by the inverters. The AC electricity is next fed into your electric meter and circuit breaker panel. The electricity either goes to your appliances and lights, or to the grid, or some to each. This all happens silently and automatically every day.
What happens when the sun isn’t shining?
At night and during cloudy weather, the solar system’s output is reduced or stopped and your home will get electricity directly from the utility grid. You’re always connected to the grid, so you can have as much power as you need, any time you need it, regardless of whether the solar system is able to put out any power.
What if my panels produce more or less energy than my home needs?
When the sun is shining, the power produced goes to reducing your usage at the time, or, if there is excess, to spinning the meter backwards, counting down your electric use and bill. You will enter into a “net-metering” agreement with your utility that allows this to happen seamlessly. Some months you may find your system generates more power than you use. This is fine; the utility looks at how much electricity you generate over a one year period and will credit you during a month you produce more than you use.
What happens during a utility power outage?
One common misconception is that the PV system will work during a blackout. This is not true. Your PV system needs grid power to operate. It actually syncs itself to the electrical frequency of the grid, so when the grid is down, it automatically turns off. When power is restored, your system will restart automatically.