how-solar-panels-work-illustration
Source: SolarCraft.com

Sunlight to Electricity

  • Sunlight hits your roof carrying photons (particles of sunlight)
  • Solar panels converts photons into electrons of DC (Direct Current) electricity
  • Electrons flow out of solar panels and into an inverter and electrical safety devices
  • An inverter converts the DC into AC (Alternating Current)
  • Your building uses AC electricity from the solar panels first, with additional demand supplied from the grid
  • Utility company measures use of electricity through a meter
  • If you use more electricity than you generate, you buy electricity through the utility at your normal rate
  • For most utilities, when you generate more power than you use, the excess power is sent back to the utility company and your meter spins backwards as you accumulate credits that will be applied to your next bill for the electricity you use from the grid. This is called net metering.