Solar power systems turn sunlight into electricity. Silicon wafers capture photons from sunlight and turn them into DC power, which is then transformed into 120 volt AC power and connected to your existing electrical system as well as the local electrical grid. Your meter can literally spin backwards when you generate more than you consume.
Solar Panels are hooked to an inverter transferring the current from DC to AC which can work in conjunction with your existing utility. If your Solar Panels produce too much power for your residential needs, the excess will travel backwards to the grid in a process called net metering.
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(The state of Florida is providing a $500 rebate on all new solar hot water systems. For Photo-Electric Systems, $4/watt up to $20,000 in residential systems.
Solar Rebate Application)
Typical Components of a Solar System
Solar Cells: "Solar power cells" make up the building blocks of a solar energy system. These solar power (photovoltaic) cells convert light energy into electricity at the atomic level.
Solar Module: Multiple cells are usually combined into a complete "solar module" that also includes a frame for the system, electrical interconnections, and mounting hardware.
Inverter: An "inverter", usually installed on the outside of your home, takes the DC output from the cells and transforms it into usable AC power.
Electric Panel: Electricity will be sent from the inverter to your "electric panel" (or "breaker box"). Your meter will spin backward when your solar system produces more electricity than you need and will spin forward at night or on cloudy days.
Utility Grid: The "utility grid" refers to the electricity going to/from your electric provider. When you go solar, you will send back to the grid the electricity that you produce in excess of your consumption, and use grid electricity at night or on cloudy days.