Understanding a Solar Electric System

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,450
    SolarWorld Authorized Installer Keith Knowles explains what a solar electric (or PV) system is and how it works to save homeowners money on their electric bills.

    Keith Knowles: Hi! My name is Keith Knowles. I am with LiveLight Energy. I am licensed Solar Contractor and authorized installer for SolarWorld, America's largest manufacturer of Solar Panels. I am here to help you select the solar electrical equipment for your home and today we are going to find out what a Solar Electric System, or also know as PV, can do for you. Let's start at the utility meter and find out more.

    Most people buy their electricity from a local utility through the grid. The utility charges you for every kilowatt-hour of energy you use. One kilowatt-hour of energy is equal to 1000 Watts continuously for 1 hour which is equivalent to ten 100 Watt light bulbs or a microwave running continuously for an hour.

    Many Utilities use tiered rates, so the more electricity that you use, the more you pay for it. And with rates rising by about 4% to 7% a year, it makes sense to generate some of that power yourself. A solar electric system offsets the kilowatt-hours you buy from the utility. Power produced by the solar panels either slows your meter down as you use less grid energy or it turns it backward when you make more than you can use. And the good news is that the sun will never send you a power bill. However, a new solar electric system can cost anywhere from $10,000 to more than $50,000 depending on its size and expected performance. Fortunately, the federal government offers a 30% tax credit on the cost of installation. Home owners are saving up to 20% returns on their system investment. And don't forget, a solar electric system can significantly reduce your carbon foot print.

    I'll walk you through the parts of a solar electric system and how to choose the right ones for you. Before we begin, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have installed hundreds of kilowatts of solar systems and I work exclusively with SolarWorld, who since 1977 has been America's largest manufacturer of PV panels. So, let's go get started.