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Photovoltaic (PV) technology produces electricity from sunlight, using solid-state materials with no moving parts. It's a mature technology, first invented by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel in 1839 and initially commercialized at Bell Labs in the 1950s.
Solar power systems falls into two main categories. First is grid-tied, where the building generates its own electricity from solar panels but can also draw power from the utilitly company at night. The second is off-grid, where the building is located too far from an electrical utility cable and must generate its own solar panels energy and storing energy in batteries for use at night.
A basic home solar panel system consits of PV cells connected and packaged together in weather-protected solar modules, which are fastend side-by-side on a racking system to form an array. The solar panel produce direct current (DC), which in a grid-tied system flows to a grid-interactive inverter. An inverter changes DC voltage to the alternating current (AC) for the home electric circuit powering wall outlets and all AC appliances.
Excess power from the inverter may flow out of the home solar panel system through the utility company's electric meter, into the city-wide grid. When this happens, the meter may run backward, and the utility will credit the out flowing electricity against electricity purchased from the grid at other times, like at night. This process is called net-metering.
In an off-grid system, DC power flows from the modules through a charge controller (also called a regulator), which is a electronic device that produces a smooth flow of current at the desired voltage. From the charge contoller the solar power energy can go to a set of storage batteries and then on to the inverter, as needed.
Know your load.
If your electric bill is 600 kWh of electricity each month, that works out to about 20 kWh per day. If you get an average of five hours of direct sunlight daily you'd balance your electric use with about 4 kW of net-metered solar power. A 2-kW system would offset about 50 percent of your bill.
Electric power is measured in watts.
A kilowatt (kW) is 1,000 watts, and a megawatt (MW) is 1 million watts. You buy electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is energy (as opposed to power). For instance, if you run a 100-watt light bulb for an hour, you've used 100 watt-hours of energy. If you run it for 10 hours, you've used 1 kWh, for which the average home energy would be billed at 11 cents (at $0.11/kWh). A 1-kW solar power system can produce 1 kW in direct sun. In Kansas City sunlight falls on it five hours a day, it may produce 5 kWh that day.
Contractor Installation location.
Installation location is critical to solar power system performance.In Kansas City the array should face the sun. This usually means due south or west in Kansas City, though if your home use heavy air-conditioning load in the late afternoon you may want to point the solar panel system to southwest specially in Kansas City . The solar power systems should not be shaded during any part of its productive day. The solar panels should be tilted upward at the correct angle to optimize seasonal exposure - typically at the angle of your latitude so it gets sunlight at the right angle at the spring and fall equinoxes. Some solar power panels can be made adjustable for varying the angle at different seasons. If the home solar panels needs to be elevated about the roof surface, it places additional uplifting loads on the roof structure during wind storms. If the roof doesn't offer a suitable structural surface, have your contractor install a ground-mounted array in the yard.