• Category:
    Green Energy
  • Published:
    April 8, 2016
  • Updated:
    October 8, 2016

How Solar Energy Works

In the world of renewable energy resources, solar energy is, well, hot. The Solar Energy Industries Association, a solar trade organization, notes in its Q4 2015 report that solar supplied 29.4% of all new electricity generating capacity brought online in the U.S., beating out natural gas additions for the first time ever. Overall, the report continues, the U.S. installed 7,260 megawatts of solar photovoltaic cells in 2015, the largest total ever and 16% above what was installed in 2014. Residential solar accounted for the largest sector.

Beyond the increasing interest in using clean energy, some consumers have been motivated to convert to solar for their electricity needs by federal, state and local tax credits, as well as rebates that can help offset installation costs. And third-party ownership opportunities, in which homeowners essentially lease the solar panels rather than purchase them, are increasingly popular, too.

As part of its continuing strategy to offer consumers more clean choices, Constellation is now offering more solar options for residential consumers. The residential program, which rolled out in April 2016, is offered in various states around the country with more states expected to come.

Here’s what you need to consider before converting your home’s electricity source to solar energy instead.

The potential benefits of solar energy

The possible benefits of solar energy in your home are both economic and environmental. With the right system and circumstances, you can lower your electricity costs and shrink your carbon footprint all in one fell swoop. Here are the plusses and minuses to consider:

Potential benefits of solar energy:

  • Solar energy is a clean and renewable resource.
  • Solar energy creates no pollution at all. Specifically no carbon dioxide or other heat-trapping gases, and harmful emissions. Solar energy also avoids potential environmental risks associated with mining or drilling fossil fuels.
  • Solar energy uses little to no water, which is in contrast to almost all power plants making electricity from steam.
  • Solar panels are silent. There are no moving parts.
  • Solar systems are fairly easy to install and require very little maintenance. Both are handled by your solar provider, if you opt for a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA).

Potential disadvantages of solar energy:

  • Depending on the system, initial costs to install can be expensive; however, lease options can lower that initial cost.
  • Solar power can’t be harnessed for later use or during bad weather, such as rain or even heavily cloudy days. That means you’ll still need the ability to use power from your existing utility.
  • You may need to live in your home long enough to reap the full financial benefits if you make the initial purchase rather than lease, although that can be passed on to the next owner of your home.

Sources: http://www.alternate-power.org/solar-power-advantages-and-disadvantages/

Solar Power Advantages and Disadbantages

You’ll need to consider a few additional points when deciding if home solar panel installation is the right economic choice. Size matters. So does siting, both in terms of when and how the sun hits your panels, and whether and where the system will go on your roof. (Sometimes, if your yard is large, panels can be placed there, although there is an additional cost to do so.) Local covenants should be explored to ensure you’re not violating any homeowner or condominium or local city or town regulations.

Climate is another consideration. Obviously your home needs to receive a fair amount of sunlight in the course of a day. Where the sun hits your roof and how long it receives full sun are critical, as are the electricity demands of your home. Energy.gov suggests that homeowners design a system to provide 40-80% of a home’s needs. Systems that provide less than 40% may not be cost-effective.

How solar energy works

Before deciding if going solar is the best route for your home, it’s important to understand how solar energy works. We all understand passive solar. We open our drapes or curtains in the winter to allow the sun’s warmth to help heat our homes. Even animals seem to understand passive solar energy, as they curl up in the spot on the couch where the sun shines through.

Architects and builders often design and site homes to take advantage of heat from the sun in winter. Large windows that face south, for instance, can provide passive heat from the sun. In the warmer months, people use awnings and perhaps blinds or drapes to keep the sun’s rays at bay and therefore ensure their home is cooler.

Solar energy technology takes advantage of this general idea to harness the sun’s heat and intensity into usable energy. Photovoltaic cells, located on those flat solar panels you’ve likely seen on rooftops, convert sunlight into electricity.

Here’s the basic way solar energy works:

  1. Sunlight hits the surface of the photovoltaic cell on the solar panel.
  2. An inverter converts the direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is what is used by household appliances.
  3. The meter monitors production received from the solar panels and the inverter, and sends the information to the utility through a wireless signal.
  4. The solar electricity from the inverter flows through this service panel first to your home and then to the grid, if there is excess production.
  5. The electricity meter reads the power that you use from the grid as well as the excess solar electricity that flows to the grid from your solar system.

Source: https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/solutions/technologies/solar.html

How Solar Energy Works

Some  consumers may worry that the benefits of solar energy are outweighed by the price of converting their home. On average a 4 to 8 kilowatt solar electric system on a home can cost homeowners between approximately $15,000 and $29,000 including materials, installation, and labor according to a recent GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight Report. These costs can vary based on a number of factors, including house location, quality of solar source, roof quality and shading, as well as incentives for solar.

While consumers can certainly pay for the panels upfront, leasing options can make solar more affordable for homeowners. Called leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs), these contracts allow homeowners to essentially rent the panels. With a lease you pay a fixed monthly “rent” in return for using the system. With a PPA you pay a fixed price per kWh for power that is actually generated from the solar power facility. Both typically require no money down. Homeowners still get credit for any excess energy their system creates and the power purchase agreement can often be transferred as part of the sale of your home.

If you still have questions about whether or not home solar panel installation is right for you, we’re here to help you make the right energy choices for your home and family.


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Comments ( 41 )

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sonal gupta - 4/10/2021

Thanks for sharing this is very nicely explained, a home provided by solar energy has more chances to get high values, and demand for solar will grow. Very informative

Purvi Singh - 12/23/2020

When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This Solar energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.

Michael J - 9/18/2020

This was a good read. Thanks for sharing.

Michael J - 9/15/2020

Just as we expect the advantages for going solar still out weigh the disadvantages. Despite the expense of solar panels, I don’t see why you wouldn’t invest. In addition, there are ways to make the purchase reasonable, as put in this article.

Michael J - 9/15/2020

This is a very insightful article. I appreciate the fact this site has a blog and is actually educating potential solar users. Like us, you are fighting the good fight, thank you.

little cost - 8/23/2020

Its excellent as your other articles :D, regards for putting up.

Kristan - 7/30/2020

Thanks For Sharing such a valuable Article!
Solar System Installation

solar panel - 6/11/2020

Some consumers may worry that the benefits of solar energy are outweighed by the price of converting their home.good article!

Best Dermatologist Sterling VA - 5/12/2020

Your post is very great.i read this post this is a very helpful. i will definitely go ahead and take advantage of this.

swathi - 5/12/2020

Thank You for Sharing. Very Useful and informative.
Solar system for home in sydney

Kanika - 10/10/2019

Nice article keep up the good work

Cristina Cathy - 10/8/2019

Hi Dear, take my greetings, Your site is very informative and helpful. I’m following you since July 2019. Your all tips are very useful & helpful. Thanks for your wonderful tips for share with us.

Unrivaled Solar - 9/11/2019

Best guideline for installing solar panel. People can go right way by following your guideline.

Iron Edison - 8/31/2019

Hello! Great content and the way you are representing things to your viewers is just amazing .

David Campbell - 8/9/2019

Qiute interesting article.. A photovoltaic system typically includes a panel or an array of solar modules, a solar inverter, and sometimes a battery and/or solar tracker and interconnection wiring.

Mike - 7/25/2019

The fact that the prices for solar panels are going down, harnessing solar energy is very beneficial at this point in time. The benefits really outweighs the disadvantages when you speak about installing solar PV system right now. It is really interesting to see companies promoting solar energy and I’m glad I found this article. Thanks for this post!

TDR Electric - 7/24/2019

Hey Blogger! I read your blog. It is quite impressive & the way you describe the solar energy benefits, working is easy to understand. Thanks for sharing such an informative blog with us.

Arshad - 7/10/2019

Great blog! You have shared the information that was not known to me. I found it interesting and you have helped me in updating my knowledge.

    Constellation - 7/10/2019

    Hi Arshad – We’re happy to hear you found the blog interesting with useful information. We hope you’ll continue to check out our blogs for more tips on your energy usage. Thank you!

Trevor - 6/9/2019

By utilizing the natural suns energy we can contribute to a cleaner environment with renewable energy!

Constellation - 6/5/2019

You’re welcome! We’re glad you found it useful. Feel free to share it with friends and family so they better understand renewable energy and how solar energy works.

Billy - 4/22/2019

Such an informative article! Thank you for sharing. Great for people to understand and learn about solar power and how it can benefit them.

    Constellation - 6/5/2019

    You’re welcome! We’re glad you found the article useful and informative. Feel free to share it with friends and family so they can learn more about renewable energy and solar power.

Cheap Solar Houton TX - 1/29/2019

This article describes about the working process of solar panels. Solar energy are much efficient for working all kind of works. this article show that how much efficient a solar panel is. thanks for sharing this with all..

    Constellation Community Team - 3/8/2019

    Hi, thanks for stopping by! We’re glad to help.

Kevin Nelson - 1/6/2019

In my opinion, the most important thing is that solar energy is a truly renewable energy source. It can be harnessed in all areas of the world and is available every day.

    Constellation Community Team - 3/8/2019

    Hi Kevin, we love your outlook. Solar energy certainly has a bright future!

William Ethan - 10/24/2018

Your blog is really very informative. I understood how solar works and how solar systems can help us to save more money. Investing on a solar panel is a smart move that can help people to keep their wallet fat. Moreover, solar energy is clean and eco-friendly. I have bought a residential solar panel for my house from Your Energy Solutions and I am highly satisfied with the tremendous energy efficiency. A big Thanks to you for explaining all the features and benefits of buying a solar panel from a reputed organization like YES or Your energy Solutions. You defiantly deserve big thumbs up!

    Constellation Community Team - 1/23/2019

    Hi William, thanks for the support!

Eliana Parker - 10/1/2018

This is very nice idea, that every home’s rtoof cover with solar panel. lots of solar energy gain. Thanks for sharing this info. Its very much nice, every one once have to think on it, try to implement this. that for this conceptual blog. Its imp for Solar panel system installer.

    Constellation Community Team - 11/7/2018

    Hi Eliana, thanks! Solar energy is a great option for many energy-users.

Andrew Agar - 9/6/2018

Outstanding article

    Constellation Community Team - 11/6/2018

    Hi Andrew, thanks so much.

wesley mendelovitch - 11/22/2017

Thanks for sharing this article. Actually, most of the time people don’t know that how exactly solar works. how they Monitoring or maintenance the solar panels, I hope this article will help them to Get to know and maybe they are going to having benefits of solar panels.

    Constellation Community Team - 2/28/2018

    Wesley, thank you for the kind words! We’re glad to give people the information they’ll need.

David Shawn - 6/13/2016

Well, solar energy system helps people to generate electricity with no cost. This is the main reason that people are converting to solar energy systems.

David Hawkins - 6/6/2016

That’s really cool to know the details behind solar energy works. I’ve been looking for the best renewable and pollutant free energy source for my home and I think solar might be my best option. I’ll have to talk to an installation company and see all the potential benefits for my home. Thanks for the awesome and detailed info!

Sylvia Law - 4/21/2016

Do you install the system? I’ve had several companies to approach regarding installation but I’m not familiar with them. I have confidence in Constellation

    Constellation Community Team - 8/7/2017

    Thank you for the compliment! We’re so glad to hear that you have confidence in Constellation, and we appreciate your business. Constellation works with Sunrun for solar panels. For more information, please contact Sunrun at 1-844-751-2166.

Thomas Vandenoever - 4/12/2016

Is Constellation installing the system? Does Constellation provide any estimate as to the amount of savings for individual installations?

    Constellation Community Team - 8/7/2017

    Constellation works with Sunrun to install solar panels. The amount you might save will depend on several factors, including the direction from which sunlight hits your roof, the climate where you live and the number of panels we’re able to install. For more information about how solar panels could work for you, please contact Sunrun at 1-844-751-2166.

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