Anatomy of a Solar Installation in California

Solar Energy Panel DetailsMost of our customers don’t really care how solar works. They just know that with each sunrise, they’re able to harness free sunshine to produce clean electricity.

That’s it.

But a handful of folks out there actually are curious about the nuts and bolts of their systems. So here’s a quick breakdown of a standard solar installation in California.


1. Solar PV Panels

Your solar installation comes with photovoltaic (PV) panels. This is the technology that captures sunlight to produce electricity.

Each panel is actually made up of many individual solar cells – those tiny blue or black silicon-based squares that you sometimes see in handheld calculators. A standard solar cell is only able to produce about 1 or 2 watts of electricity. But when strung together into panels and arrays, they can produce enough clean energy to power entire communities.

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2. Solar Power Inverter

Your panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. But most home appliances use alternating current (AC) electricity. So before sending clean energy into your property, you need a solar inverter that can convert DC power to AC power.

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3. Bidirectional Utility Meter

Changing out your current meter for a bidirectional meter is 100% optional. But we strongly recommend making the switch.

With the right type of meter, you’ll be able to connect your solar installation to the utility grid and join California’s net metering program. This special solar incentive allows you to:

  • Monetize your excess clean electricity
  • Benefit from nighttime storage (when your panels stop working)

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4. Solar Batteries

Installing solar batteries with your PV panels is also optional. They allow you to store your clean solar power for nighttime use. But we don’t usually recommend this solution (at least for now). That’s because net metering is a cheaper and easier way to store solar power.

There are certain types of customers who may benefit from solar batteries – namely hospitals, data centers, and other organizations that need 24/7 power even when the utility grid goes down.

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Other Solar Components

There are lots of other bells and whistles that you can add. These additional improvements will increase the total price of your solar installation in California – although some of them allow you to speed up the payback period of your investment even more.

To keep costs low, we recommend sticking with the above 3 (or 4) components. They’re enough to get you up and running so that you can slash your electricity bill and reduce your carbon footprint.

If you’re ready to begin exploring your solar options, contact us today for a free consultation.

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