Solar PV 101

Naperville, IL

Solar Electric or Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight into electricity. Sizing a PV system is a balance between three variables – current electric use, availability of space on the roof and budget. Generally, one will be a determining factor as Solar Service customizes a system for you.

Like solar thermal, PV systems are simple, reliable and fully automatic:

  1. Sunlight strikes a solar electric panel, excites electrons and creates DC electricity.
  2. An inverter is used to convert this electricity AC current which is then wired to your existing electric panel.
  3. From there, electricity flows to appliances and outlets as needed and excess electricity feeds back to the grid/utility.

Solar PV Diagram

With reduced installation prices, increased incentives and reliable equipment choices, there has never been a better time in history to invest in a PV system!

Interconnection & Net Metering:
Interconnection & Net Metering are separate agreements between the customer and the utility. Interconnection allows customers to connect to and feed energy back to the grid.  Upon successful review, the utility will install a bi-directional meter that tracks energy from both sources - grid power and direct generation from solar. Solar Service will assist with the application forms and facilitate this process.

Net Metering is an agreement that credits customers for excess solar energy sent back to the grid from the PV array.  Energy is tracked monthly on the utility bill and listed as a "rollover", much like a cell phone rollover minute. A bank of energy credits can be accumulated over time and then used later when electric use exceeds solar generation.  An annual reconciliation occurs once a year, typically April, and the account is set back to zero.  Although the utility does not pay cash for this energy, monthly usage is credited back for future use. 

Note: Going “off grid” usually requires significant roof space and can be costly depending on energy use. Contact Solar Service to find a system that works best for your needs.

Have more questions about solar PV? Visit our FAQs to learn more.