How Does Solar Work?

Nobleboro ME Solar
A home in Nobleboro, Maine with solar electric (PV) panels

Grid-tied solar electricity (or photovoltaics, or “PV”) allows you to generate your own electricity whenever the sun is out. You can either use the power as it’s created, or export it to the grid and earn credits. When the rate of electricity goes up, your solar array increases in value proportionally. With solar you can:

  • Lock in an electric rate that’s lower than the utility
  • Offset C02 emissions by reducing need for coal, oil, and nuclear power
  • Enjoy reliable, clean energy production for 30+ years

Save Money and the Environment

More than 60% of the electricity generated in New England comes from natural gas and oil, followed by nuclear (14%) and coal (9%). Maine and New Hampshire emit over 10,000,000 metric tons of C02 emissions annually, a result of burning over 50,000,000 gallons of oil and 2,800,000,000 lbs. of coal.

Solar photovoltaic panels, in contrast, generate clean solar electricity whenever the sun shines. Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts boast 33% more sunshine than Germany, the world leader in solar energy. The technology for these panels is mature and reliable, resulting in systems that are expected to work for 40-50 years even in New England’s tough climate.

Solar electricity is local electricity, meaning that power is generated where it is used and does not have to travel great distances over transmission lines. This is a more efficient use of electricity that reduces strain on the electric grid. When your photovoltaic system generates more power than you are using, it helps power your neighbors’ homes.

0-down, 2.99% financing is available through ReVision Energy’s Own Your Power solar loan program.

How Does Grid-Tied Solar Work?

How Solar WorksGrid-tied photovoltaic arrays required no batteries, no complex wiring, no moving parts.  Instead, they inter-tie directly with the grid (hence the name) allowing you to use the grid itself as a big battery.  When your PV system produces more electricity than you need, the electricity is fed out to the grid and you receive a credit.  When you consume more than you produce (at night, on rainy days) you will draw that power off the electric grid as you do now.  The utility reconciles credits with usage on a monthly basis, you receive a bill for the difference (and can carry credits forward up to a year).  This is called net metering.

Essentially, grid-tied solar electricity works in three steps:

1 ) Sunshine Hits the Solar Panels

Sunlight causes electrons to move through the wiring connecting the solar photovoltaic panels, creating direct current (DC) electricity.

2 ) The solar inverter converts DC power into AC power

The DC electricity produced by the solar panels is inverted into alternating current (AC) electricity used in your home. The AC electricity flows into your circuit panel and is available for any active electric loads: lights, television, computers, refrigerator, etc.

3)  Excess power is sent to the grid

If your solar photovoltaic production exceeds your demand, then the extra electricity is pushed out to the grid and goes to other nearby homes. A separate meter tracks this exported electricity. At the end of the month, the utility reconciles your solar production vs. electrical consumption, and you either earn a credit or are billed accordingly.

Why Invest in Solar?

Solar energy is one of the safest investment options on the market today, delivering:

  • 100% guaranteed financial return on investment (you get all of your money back, then an ‘annuity’ for decades in the form of avoided electricity costs)
  • Environmental return on investment (eliminate thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions annually)
  • Home equity return on investment (solar is proven to increase the value of any property by lowering cost of ownership)
  • Community return on investment (everyone benefits from cleaner air & reduced dependence on fossil energy)