How The Washington Sun Produces Electricity

first_imgFacebook37Tweet0Pin0Submitted By: South Sound Solar(1) The Solar Electric Panels absorb the sunlight and transfer it to DC electricity.(2) The Inverter transforms the DC electricity to AC electricity to perfectly match the frequency of the grid.(3) All the electricity produced goes through a production meter, and once a year the utility sends you a check for this electricity.(4) The electricity goes into your home to be used.(5) If you are producing more power than you need, the electricity goes through the net meter, and out onto the grid for your neighbors to use. The science behind solar systems is a complicated thing to understand, involving all the science classes most people avoided in high school. South Sound Solar relies on a physicist and electrical engineer to ensure that the systems are designed and installed to the highest standards. The way that the systems connect to homes and interact with the utility is almost as complex. Customers often have questions about how the power produced is measured, how big of a system they need to power their building, and how it works in Washington. Here is a summary of solar power process of grid tied solar electric (PV) systems.Believe it or not, Washington is a good place for solar. Germany, the world’s leader in solar photovoltaic (electric) installations, actually has 30% less annual sunlight than the state of Washington, and 10% less than the Olympia area. That’s right: Washington has more sun than the world’s primary solar user. But wait, there’s more! Solar works better in cooler climates. Why? Because heat acts as a resistor for electricity, making it move slower and essentially creating a block. And solar panels don’t need a beautiful, 70 degree sunny day to produce electricity. While those kinds are when you will get the most solar electricity, clouds and rain allow enough sunlight through that the system will still be generating clean, green, free power.Once the sunlight hits the panels (which don’t have to be mounted on the roof), the inverter transforms the DC electricity that the panels produce to AC electricity to perfectly match the frequency of the grid, and be used in your house. The inverters also act as the “protector” of the solar system, and the utility’s workers. If there is ever a problem with the power coming from the grid, a surge or “dirty” electricity, the inverter will shut off, preventing that bad electricity from reaching your panels.The inverters are programmed to shut off if the power goes out. This is a law in most states. The reason is that when the power is out, the solar system can’t be back feeding power into the lines. This is dangerous for the men and women out there trying to restore power to the community. To maintain power in a power outage, batteries are needed.Once the power goes through the inverter, all the electricity produced goes through a production meter. This meter keeps track of all the energy the system generates. The utility pays you up to 54 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by the solar system (you pay about 9 cents per kilowatt hour). Once a year the utility sends you a check for this electricity, up to $5,000 per year. This is one of the financial incentives in Washington State, and is enforced by law until 2020.After the production meter records all the electricity produced, the power then goes into your home (or business) to be used. The net meter allows you to buy power from the utility, like at night or if your system isn’t producing enough to power your whole home. The electronics in the building can’t tell the difference between solar power and utility power, the difference is recorded by the net meter.  This makes going solar easy, because you don’t have to size a system to power your whole building, you can just help offset the costs.  If you are producing more power than you need, the electricity goes through the net meter the other direction, and out onto the grid for your neighbors to use. This is shown as a credit every month on your power bill.Today, solar power is about more than the environment, it makes your home a mini power plant for the utility. Even in Washington, you will produce enough energy to get a yearly check, and to have your monthly power bill credited for sharing your electricity. You don’t have to worry about sizing the system for your entire house, and everything from lights to computers can’t tell if they are using solar power or utility power. The only things that would change about your home are a few panels on the roof and a bigger piggy bank.last_img