Solar Electric System Basics

A Solar Electric, or Photovoltaic (PV), 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 (DC) electricity, an inverter that changes the power to alternating current (AC) electricity (the kind of electricity we use in our homes), a net meter that links your solar system to the utility grid, and an online dashboard that allows you to watch your system work.

Solar Electric Panels

Solar panels themselves come in different shapes and sizes, and are made by a host of manufacturers, which enables SunBug to put together customized systems that perfectly suit your home.  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). A typical solar electric residential system is 5 to 10 kilowatts in size.  For an array to be efficient, panels need to be oriented so they receive the greatest amount of direct sunlight during the peak hours of the day, typically from 9 am to 3 pm.  An optimal installation is flush mounted on a south facing, unshaded 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 near your electric panel, usually in the basement or utility closet. The inverter changes the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) electricity, and that power is fed to your building.  Inverters come in different shapes and sizes, but they all produce the alternating current electricity that we use everyday.

Net Meter

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, which 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 and measures the electricity you produce as well as the electricity you consume from the utility. Your electric bill is based on the net difference between what your solar array produces and what you consume from the utility. Learn more about residential-scale Net Metering.

As The Highest-Rated Solar Installer In Massachusetts,

we are not above tooting our own horn because we work hard for the distinction.  Our accolades and strong partnerships reflect our commitment to quality.

We have multiple NABCEP certified installers and sales professionals.

We are members of Amicus, the nation-wide cooperative of the highest-quality local solar companies.

We are a Certified B Corp.


SunBug Solar

Let’s Talk!

Eastern MA 617-500-3938

Western MA 413-884-1000

Founded in 2009 and a Certified B Corporation since 2018, SunBug Solar has designed and installed over 2400 solar systems from Great Barrington to Cape Cod. We build all types of systems, ranging in size from 1kW to over 1MW, including residential, commercial, carports, and ground-mounts. Our integrated approach - from initial education through consultative design to quality installation and ongoing support - has earned SunBug the highest reputation for customer service and a host of satisfied residential and commercial customers.