How Solar Electricity is Made
1. Sunlight hits the solar cells that comprise a solar module (PV Panel), and are absorbed by conducting materials within the panel.
2. Electrons in the conducting materials are knocked loose, excited, and flow through the material generating electricity. The process of light hitting the material within the panel and generating electricity is called the Photovoltaic Effect.
3. The group of modules is called an "array." The electricity produced by the PV array is call DC (Direct Current) electricity. DC electricity is what batteries use.
4. The DC electricity is sent to the inverter which converts the DC electricity into AC (Alternating Current) electricity, which is what powers our homes and businesses.
5. The inverter sends the power to the electrical panel to be distributed to circuits that power lights, televisions, and other household appliances. If there is excess electricity generated by the array, it has several options:
a. The electricity can be sent to the electric utility grid and spin the meter backwards.
b. The electricity can be used to charge batteries and stored for later use. Once the batteries are fully charged, the excess electricity will be send to the electric utility grid making your meter spin backwards.
6. The process of being connected to the electric utility grid and allowing the flow of energy to and from the electric utility grid is called "net metering." Depending on your electric utility, you can have the choice of billing options for your bill; monthly or yearly. Yearly billing is the most common and billing involves constant debits and credits to your account and one year from the system being commisioned, the bill will be received. If you used more electricity than your array produced, you pay the utility. If your array produced more than you used, your utility pays you. The rate at which the electric utility pays for the extra power you produced varies by utility.