More environmentally friendly alternatives for energy - Home Solar Power Systems

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Healthier, More Environmentally Friendly Alternatives for Energy - Solar Systems


There are two main forms of solar systems for residential use: the “grid-tie” system and the “off-grid” or stand-alone system. In a grid-tie system, a home has solar cells but is still connected to the local power grid. The home solar system includes solar cells installed on or near a home that collect the sun's energy and convert it into DC electricity. Then the inverter converts the DC power into AC power, which can then be used directly in your home.

Electricity produced by the solar cells that is not used immediately in the home is returned to the power grid. When this happens your electricity meter literally spins backwards as you are passing energy to the grid. You are also building a credit on your power bill. This is called “net-metering”. The benefit of the grid-tied system is that it does not include expensive batteries to be installed in your home for the storage of power; the grid acts as the storage system and your home and the grid exchange power as you need and produce it.
Off-grid or stand-alone systems are typically used in remote locations where standard grid-based power is not available. These systems are more expensive, but do allow for complete electrical independence. These systems require deep-cycle batteries for storing the electricity as well as a charge controller to assure the flow of electricity from the cells does not over-charge the batteries.
For a solar system to work well it needs an unobstructed view of the sun. In the United States, typically the best orientation for solar panels is to the south as the sun is in the southern half of the sky (lower in the winter and higher in the summer).

Solar panels can either be attached directly to a slanting roof, or bolted onto frames on flat roofs. If your roof is not a good option, then panels can also be mounted on the ground. They can either be placed on a fixed mount frame or on a “tracking mount” that follows the sun across the sky.

Solar Power Overview
How Solar Power Works

Home Solar Power Systems

Solar Water Heaters

Solar Power Costs