The Solar Power Expert Blog

Solar Panel Systems For Your Home

by GuestPoster - December 11th, 2011.
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There are two types of solar power systems (also known as photovoltaic, or PV, systems) you can have for your home: An on-grid system, or an off-grid (standalone) system.


An on grid system is connected to the electricity grid. During the day, the solar panels collect solar energy and convert it to electricity. Any surplus electricity that isn’t used is fed back into the grid, and your energy provider pays you for it. This is called a Feed in Tariff. At night, since there is no sun shining, the household takes energy from the grid in the traditional manner. Depending on electricity produced by your system, and consumption of your household, a PV system can greatly reduce your energy bills, or even eliminate them all together and create a profit.

An off-grid, or standalone system, is designed to be independent of the electricity grid. Its goal is to supply a household with all of its energy needs, and as such must be designed a bit differently. It must be set up so that your daily energy requirements can be met during your least productive times (this usually means being able to produce enough energy on a day in the middle of winter to meet your energy needs). Also, since the sun doesn’t shine at night, a battery system must be put in place to store the surplus electricity produced during the day, and allow it to be used during the evening and night. A backup generator is a good idea in such a system, in case you fall short of your energy needs during lean times. All of these added requirements generally make a standalone system more expensive.

For more information on the costs and pricing of both on grid and off grid systems, check out this article on the costs of installing solar panels for your home.


A PV system is made of 3 parts: The solar panels, an inverter and a mounting system.

The solar panels are found outdoors, usually on the roof. They absorb solar radiation and convert it to electricity. The electricity is then run into the inverter.

The inverter changes the electricity into a form that can be used by the appliances in your home. AC current is easier to transfer over large distances through power lines, and so our homes and appliances were built to use it. Solar panels create DC current, which must be inverted before use.

A mounting system puts the solar panels on an angle that optimizes the direct sunlight it receives. Some mechanically adjust to where the sun is in the sky, and some are simply frames that the solar panels sit on. To optimize direct sunlight, a panel should be at an angle equal to the latitude of where you live- so for example, New York State is at 40 degrees latitude, so you’d want your panels to lie at a 40 degree angle.

Good luck and stay prepared!

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