The Basics of Residential Solar Energy Systems

Components of a Residential Solar System 

Solar Panels

Solar panels are sometimes called solar modules and are usually installed on the roof of your home. Solar panels/modules consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells convert the energy from sunlight into direct current (DC) power. 


The DC power from the solar panels is sent to an inverter, where it is converted into alternating current (AC) power, the standard electrical current used throughout your home.

Electric Meter

The electrical panel is often called a breaker box. The AC power flows from the inverter to the electrical panel. Now you can use this power in your home.

The utility meter is constantly measuring your home’s electrical supply. When your solar power system produces more power than your home needs, the meter actually spins backward and you build credits with the utility company that will reduce your next bill. Your home is still connected to the utility grid so that you are still supplied with electricity when you need more power than your solar power system has produced, such as at night or on a cloudy day.

Solar Monitoring

Premier Solar Solutions offers a variety of monitoring packages to continuously monitor solar energy production and to ensure that your solar system is running as it should be. Premier Solar Solutions will alert you and assist in correcting the situation if production levels drop below normal - when you have a clear picture of your solar energy needs, you can better manage your energy consumption and save on your utility bills.

Solar Energy For Your Home Is Just Plain Smart!Smart for the environment. Smart for your finances.

When you make the change to solar you are not just saving money, you are also saving some of our most precious resources and taking steps to become more energy self-sufficient and less dependent on foreign oil.

By using solar power in your home you can protect yourself from the unpredictability of future spikes in electric prices. Having solar with Premier Solar Solutions is like having an insurance policy against ever changing utility costs.

Solar energy is smart in creating more predictable future energy costs and it is also smart in terms of the future, period. Generating clean, renewable energy means less coal being burned and less smog and greenhouse gasses being released into the environment.

Solar power is there, ready and waiting to be used every day.  When our children look back on the world we have left them, it’s important that they will get the same chances to enjoy the good life that we’ve all had. To make sure that happens, we believe it’s our duty to constantly look for new ways to live smarter with the resources we have.

Using solar reduces your carbon footprint. It is equivalent to cars being taken off the road, new trees being planted, and less coal being burned. It also equals a decrease in smog, acid rain, and greenhouse gasses. Using solar to power homes is one of the most impactful things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, increase our energy self-sufficiency, and help ourselves as we face the future.

Best of all, you can switch to a solar lifestyle today and do all this good without having it cost you money. In fact, the opposite is true-- you’ll find you have EXTRA dollars every month!  It’s one of the easiest changes you can make…that can really change things for the better.

Three Popular Solar Technologies

As solar power's popularity grows every year, so does the number of solar technologies available. Three of the most popular solar technologies are:

  1. Photovoltaic solar panels
  2. Solar thermal panels
  3. Thin film solar panels

It may feel like a daunting task to figure out which solar panel is right for your home, so here are some basic explanations of these solar power technologies, what you can expect from them, and when it makes sense to buy them.

Photovoltaic Solar PanelsA Proven Technology

What Are Photovoltaic Solar Panels?

Photovoltaic or “PV” solar panels convert sunlight to electricity. PV solar panels made of crystalline silicon solar cells are the most common type of panel. They produce electricity that  runs through an inverter which then converts the current into electricity that can power anything from a hair dryer to a computer to an electric car.

What Can You Expect From PV Solar Panels?

PV solar power is a well established technology, and since there are no moving parts, photovoltaic solar panels offer very reliable and long-term energy production. The best residential solar panels produce the most possible electricity per square foot with efficiencies up to 18% -19%.

Residential solar panels are typically roof-mounted, although ground-mounted PV systems can be installed where more land is available. In general, photovoltaic solar panels require almost no maintenance, and in areas that offer net metering, extra electricity generated can be sent to the local grid so that you earn money from your solar investment.

When to Invest in Solar Panels?

Because PV panels have better efficiency than thin film solar panels, these conventional crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar panels are usually the solar technology of choice. Also, most rooftops have limited space for optimal photovoltaic solar energy production and conventional crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar panels generate the maximum electricity possible in the space available. As result, this tried and true solar technology can offer the best long-term return on investment.

Solar Thermal Systems
A Complementary Solar Option

What Is a Solar Thermal System:

Solar thermal panels don’t generate electricity, rather, they transfer the sun's heat. A very popular application for solar thermal panels is to heat water. Hence, solar thermal is a wonderful technology to reduce energy usage for your water heater or for heating an outdoor pool. In some cases, solar thermal power can even be used to heat or cool a home. It depends on the specific solar thermal technology. As many residential heating systems use gas, this solar technology mainly offsets gas usage.

What to Expect:

A common type of solar thermal heating system uses water filled pipes along with solar thermal panels. The solar thermal panels conduct the sun’s heat in order to heat the water in the pipes. There are typically two kinds of these solar thermal systems: active and passive systems. An active system will use pumps and controls to regulate the hot water. Passive systems do not use any pumps or controls and they are normally only feasible in mild climates where risks from extreme temperatures (like freezing) aren't present. Also, some also solar thermal heating systems heat homes by radiating the heat from the pipes to warm the air.

When to Buy:

Solar thermal heating systems can be great in conjunction with a PV system. When your home has high gas usage, installing solar thermal systems can offset that usage while a PV system can be installed to reduce electric usage. A PV system and a solar thermal system combined could allow you to become almost energy independent. You should review your home's biggest energy demands in order to figure out which type of solar system or combination thereof  makes the most sense for you.

Thin Film Solar PanelsA Flexible Solar Solution

What Are Thin Film Solar Panels?

Thin film solar panels are generally more flexible and thinner than conventional PV panels yet they still convert sunlight to electricity like conventional PV panels. Typically, the semiconductor layers on thin film solar panels are just a few millionths of a meter thick, although the name "thin film" comes how they are produced and not from their thickness.

What Can You Expect From Thin Film Solar Panels?

Because of how they are created and the elements in use, thin film solar technology is less efficient than conventional solar panels. As a result, thin film solar panels only reach 6% to 11% efficiency and need more roof space to produce the same amount of electricity as conventional PV solar panels. Thin film solar technology is best used for commercial buildings with lots of rooftop space. The time to install thin film can be longer and more costly because more solar panels and mounting materials need to be put in place to meet the same output as conventional crystalline silicon PV solar panels.

When to Invest in Thin Film Solar Panels?

This technology can make sense if you have a very large roof top and require very little electricity. Thin film solar panels are also appropriate if you have unique architectural needs that limit installation of conventional PV panels. Thin film solar panels can cost less upfront, but it is important to double check to see if the long-term output actually equals a positive return on investment in comparison to conventional PV solar panels. You may decide that paying less upfront only to get less electricity over time may not make sound financial sense.

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