Solar panel systems produce electrical power whenever the sun is shining, without any moving parts.  So how exactly do they work?

Science Alert!

Light rays from the sun react with the silicon in the solar panels and turn the suns energy into electricity.  This DC (direct current) electricity is run through wiring to an inverter, usually installed next to the main electric service panel.  The inverter changes the DC power into AC (alternating current), which can be used by your home.  The inverter is then connected to your main electric service panel, which turns your meter backward, zeroing your meter.

During the day, when the sun is out, the solar electric system makes more electrical energy than the house is using.  The unused electricity goes back into the grid, and as it does, your electric meter spins backwards.

daytime-solar-panel-system

A residential solar panel system can feed unused electricity into the power grid during the day.

During the night time, when there is no sunlight, the solar electric system is not producing electricity.  So when you are using your lights and other electric appliances, you will be using electricity from the grid, just like you always have, causing your meter to spin in the direction that it always spins.

solar-panel-system-night

At night your home uses electricity from the grid.

We will size a solar electric system that “nets zero” at the end of one year.  We call this “zeroing your meter” or “zeroing your bill”.   We are careful not to oversize your system since the utility companies presently do not pay for excess electricity that is generated.