Solar Electric (Photovoltaic)
A Solar Electric, or Photovoltaic system, converts sunlight to electricity. The conversion process requires only the sun’s energy and releases no harmful pollutants, which is why solar is sometimes called free fuel or clean electricity.
At SunBug, our Solar Electric systems use four main components: an array of solar panels that creates direct current electricity, an inverter that changes the power to alternating current (the kind of electricity we use in our homes), a net meter that links your solar system to the utility grid, and a SunWatch Monitor that allows you to watch your system work.
Solar Electric Panels
The solar panels themselves come in different shapes and sizes from a host of manufacturers, allowing SunBug to put together a customized system that perfectly suits your home or business. On the roof, a series of panels – usually 8 to 20 - are linked together to create a system whose size is measured in kilowatts (kW), with a typical solar electric residential system being 2 to 5 kilowatts in size. For an array to be efficient, panels need to be oriented so as to receive the greatest amount of direct sunlight during the peak hours of the day, typically from 9 am to 3pm. An optimal installation is flush mounted on a south facing, un-shaded roof, but other orientations work as well. A site evaluation is important to determine the effectiveness of any solar array.
From the rooftop solar electric array, direct current electricity travels to an inverter, located in the basement or utility closet, near your electric panel. The inverter changes the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) and feeds that power to your building. Inverters come in different shapes and sizes, but they all output the alternating current electricity that we use everyday.
Usually on the outside of your home, you have a conventional electric meter installed by your utility company that measures how much power you consume and determines your monthly electric bill. When you install a solar electric system, the utility company replaces that meter with a new net meter, free of charge. This net meter spins both directions, measuring the electricity you produce as well as the electricity you consume from the utility, so your electric bill is based on the net difference. Learn more.
The final component of a SunBug solar electric system is our SunWatch Monitor. This small box attaches to your solar system and your internet connection. It feeds power generation data to our web server, allowing you to track your own system output. Learn more.
Does Solar Work in New England's climate?
New England’s climate can be tough at times, but there is plenty of sunlight to support solar energy. Learn more.
How much roof space is required?
For every kilowatt (kW) installed, a solar electric system takes up about 100 square feet, so an average solar system takes between 300 and 500 square feet.