Solar panels are installed in a sunny location, usually on the roof of your home or on a ground-mounted structure. Solar panels are comprised of silicon cells under glass.
Solar panels work by converting sunlight to electricity. When sunlight lands on silicon cells in a solar module, electrons begin to move around. These electrons are harnessed by wires running across the solar cell, and exported through a junction box on the back of the module. Because there are no moving parts in a solar module, they have proven long-term reliability. In fact, they’re so reliable, the same basic technology has been in place for about 60 years.
An inverter changes the solar electricity from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) before it enters your electric service panel.
At San Diego County Solar, we are always looking to provide the best long-term value for our clients. In many cases we recommend a simple string inverter, while in others we may suggest DC optimizers from SolarEdge or Enphase Energy micro-inverters. DC optimizers, or micro-inverters reduce the impact of shading if one or more of your solar panels is shaded at times. In most cases we install a web-based monitoring system, giving homeowners the ability to track system performance. If there ever is a need for service, both the homeowner and installer will receive an alert via email.
How does the billing change with SDG&E?
The energy from solar first powers your home. Any excess energy produced goes out onto the grid. When you are sending power out to the grid, your meter will record that amount and apply a credit to your SDG&E account. If you look at your meter at these times, you will see it go backwards. This credit will be used when you are consuming electricity but your panels are not producing, such as after-daylight hours. You will still receive a monthly statement from SDG&E. However, as part of the net metering program, you will only be billed for electricity on an annual basis.
How do I know what size system is right for me?
The number of solar panels for your installation is determined by how much electricity your home uses, and considering how much it may use in the future. You can find your energy usage history by looking up your account on SDG&E’s website. When you sign in to “My Account,” you’ll have access to some great tools to analyze your energy bills and consumption. With this information and a look at your home, a solar professional can help you size a system to meet your needs. Another helpful tool that’s available is California Center for Sustainable Energy’s Electric Rate Analyzer. This tool can help you see how system size will affect your electric bill.
Do solar panels require much maintenance?
Solar panels can withstand extreme weather and require virtually no maintenance throughout their entire lifespan. According to a UCSD study, it’s generally not necessary to clean your panels. If you want to clean your panels, an occasional light rinse with a garden hose when the panels are cool should do it.
Coastal homes are well suited for solar energy.
A common misconception is that San Diego coastal homes cannot use solar power because the marine layer will dramatically compromise the panel’s performance. Because we are located in coastal North County, we have installed thousands of solar modules near the ocean with excellent results. In fact, solar panels perform best in bright but cool conditions. So despite the occasional marine layer, the cooler coastal temperatures ideal for high-performing solar electric systems.