How It Works

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According to the U.S. Department of Energy, enough sunlight hits the Earth every 90 minutes to power the entire world for a year. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels harness this free energy and convert it to usable electricity that can power your home or business.
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A standard solar panel (also known as a solar module) consists of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing and various wiring to allow current to flow from the silicon cells. Silicon (atomic #14 on the periodic table) is a nonmetal with conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current. This is known as the “photovoltaic effect,” and it describes the general functionality of solar panel technology.

The general photovoltaic process, as described above, works through the following steps:

  1. The silicon photovoltaic solar cell absorbs solar radiation
  2. When the sun’s rays interact with the silicon cell, electrons begin to move
  3. Moving electrons creates a flow of electric current, captured by nodes and wiring in the panel
  4. Wires feed this direct current (DC) electricity to a solar inverter to be converted to alternating current (AC) electricity

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Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if a residential customer has a PV system on the home’s rooftop, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backwards to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods where the home’s electricity use exceeds the system’s output. Customers are only billed for their “net” energy use. On average, only 20-40% of a solar energy system’s output ever goes into the grid. Exported solar electricity serves nearby customers’ loads.

Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid. Many states have passed net metering laws. In other states, utilities may offer net metering programs voluntarily or as a result of regulatory decisions. Differences between states’ legislation and implementation mean that the benefits of net metering can vary widely for solar customers in different areas of the country.
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Solar panels are made of tempered glass, so they’re built to withstand hail and other rough weather. With the exception of tracking mounts, solar panel systems don’t have movable parts, which cuts down on the possibility of any problems.

Any issues with solar panel performance are usually related to electricity production, which is why most installers recommend monitoring your system’s production. By paying attention to changes in production, you can identify and address issues proactively.

Generally, solar panels don’t need to be cleaned. If you live somewhere where there is a lot of smog, dust, or dirt, you may see a dip in your production over time that can be remedied by cleaning your panels. If your panels are mounted on your roof, however, your best option is to hire a professional cleaning service rather than try to clean them yourself. Your installer will be able to recommend someone local to help you.
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An investment in solar can eliminate your monthly energy bill and give your home long-term, sustainable power. As if that’s not reason enough to switch, there are still many other financial incentives for making the transition to solar power, including:
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Example for South Carolina
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Federal Tax Incentive
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State Tax Incentive
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Money-Down Loans
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These various incentives and credits make home solar panel installation readily accessible to homeowners with an adequate roof and sky access. On top of the incentives made available to the public and the monthly savings on utility costs, the U.S. Department of Energy found that an average-sized residential solar system can add $15,000 to a home’s value. This is the equivalent of about $4 of additional home value for every additional watt of solar power.
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You can take advantage of clean, renewable energy and solar financial incentives by consulting with Alder Energy Systems on a residential solar panel installation. We’ll examine your home, help you navigate incentives and develop an optimized plan for your home solar power needs.
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Are you ready to go solar with Alder Energy? We make solar simple. Get started today!
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