Two: Location, Location, Location
Contrary to common belief, you don’t have to live in a place where the sun shines 365 days a year to reap the benefits of solar installation. The amount of money you save on your yearly utility bill depends largely on two factors: your electricity rates and the available solar rebates and incentives in your area. Therefore, the sunniest places in the country don’t always offer the greatest savings from solar. In fact, many consumers in the Northeast can often have significantly higher savings from solar power than those in sunny states like Florida. To better understand this, it’s helpful to know just how a solar panel system works.
- Photovoltaic (PV) cells, or the specialized semiconductor diodes that are connected together to make up the actual solar panel, convert variable light into direct currents (DC).
- The inverter converts the DC output of the PV solar panels into a utility frequency alternating current (AC). In simpler terms, the inverter is responsible for converting daylight into electricity.
- The electrical panel then sends this power to the lights and appliances throughout your home.
- The utility meter measures the energy you generate and feed back into the grid.
Because solar panels use energy from daylight, as opposed to sunlight, panels don’t need direct sunlight in order to work. Therefore, even if you live in places like Portland, Oregon or San Francisco, California, where there’s frequently foggy, cloudy weather, you can still benefit from solar installations. In fact, areas with slightly cooler weather than average are advantageous for solar panels because the panel’s electrons don’t overheat.