Basic Solar FAQs

What are the components of a solar PV system?

Solar array: Solar arrays are made of a group of solar panels strung together. Each panel is composed of solar cells used to capture the sun’s energy.

Inverter: The electric grid utilizes AC (alternating current) electricity while solar panels generate DC (direct current) electricity. The inverter is a device used to change the DC electricity into AC form. Once your inverter has performed this conversion, the electricity can feed directly into the electric grid and your home.

Remote monitoring system: A monitoring system that helps to track the amount of energy being generated by your system. This enables the contractor to ensure that your system is operating effectively.

Cells, Panels, and Arrays:

 

Solar Equipment Terminology: Solar Cell, Panel, and Array

How does a solar panel create electricity?

Solar panels generate electricity when sunlight hits the surface of a cell. Electrons in the silicon absorb energy from the sun. These energized electrons jump from their atoms to a conducting material in the cell, which creates an electric charge. This charge is then captured by solar panels that have been wired together.

 

General illustration of how energy from the sun turns into electric current.

Does Cincinnati receive enough sunlight for solar panels to work properly?

Yes. Not only does Cincinnati have more than enough sunlight to generate electricity with solar PV panels, but we receive more sunlight than Germany, the global leader in the use of solar energy. Solar maps can tell within a few percent the amount of sunlight that will hit a specific spot on the earth’s surface in a given year.

How is solar energy measured?

The energy produced by solar panels is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average sized home uses approximately 900 kWh of electricity per month. This number will vary based on age of home, heating and cooling systems, and other features.

Where should my solar panels be installed?

To collect the most energy, solar panels need to face the sun and not be obstructed by shade. This makes a roof the ideal location to install an array. A 1 kW array takes up 90 to 100 square feet of space, and a 5kW array requires about 500 square feet to produce about 6,000 kWh per year. In some cases where a rooftop installation is not possible, it may make sense to install an array on the ground.

Will there be a battery with my system?

Most solar PV systems do not have a battery backup included. Battery technology can help retain energy for use when the sun is not shining or during an electric grid outage, but can add significant expense to the cost of a system.

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