Perhaps even before French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect with the first solar cell in 1839, the human race has attempted to harness the power of the sun. Many others built upon and improved solar technologies, so now individuals can have solar power systems that are reliable, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
Today, A1A Solar Contracting designs and installs solar power plants all over north and central Florida, allowing our customers to turn sunshine into usable electricity. Here’s a basic overview on how solar electric (photovoltaic) power technology works for both homes and businesses:
What is Net-Zero?
In a net-zero home, the meter will spin backwards as much as forwards in a typical 12-month period. In months where more electricity is consumed than harvested from the sun, the customer pays the utility company for the difference. In months where more electricity is harvested than consumed, the surplus is carried forward or “banked” as a cumulative credit.
Being net-zero will typically reduce electric bills around 90% (due to utility base rate charges, taxes and government fees). Depending on electric consumption, relative to roof area available, net-zero may not be possible, but in terms of return on investment, even if only 50% of the electric consumption is provided by solar, the economics are the same as if it were net-zero.
Grid Connection or Battery Back-up
A typical grid-interconnected PV system is quite cost-effective because no energy storage (batteries) is needed, significantly reducing equipment and labor costs. Solar panels produce electric power but do not store electrical energy like a battery.
Without energy storage, a grid-interconnected system will automatically shut down in the event of a grid-down situation. This is to ensure the grid is not back-fed with electricity, which can endanger utility workers making repairs.
Although not as popular as grid-interconnected, battery back-up systems (off-grid or with grid-interconnect) are available to ensure continuous power regardless of availability of utility power, but they come with a significantly higher investment.
For battery back-up systems, the value proposition to a homeowner is ensuring long-term energy and power independence, regardless of utility grid status or the ongoing need for fuel required by a generator.