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How it Works

A commercial solar electric (PV) system is a smart way to power your business with clean, renewable, cost-stable electricity. The following diagram illustrates how commercial solar works.

Solar Panels: Powering your business with the sun starts here. Typically mounted onto your roof, solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (or PV) cells, which convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity, just like the electricity produced by a battery. Panels produce electricity with no moving parts and last a very long time. Solar panels can also be integrated into other structures such as carports, ramadas, parking shade structures, fixed ground mounts, and trackers.

Inverter: High power inverters convert the DC electricity from the solar panels into usable AC electricity, which is the standard form of power used by building appliances. The type of inverter that will work best for your system is typically determined by the type of modules and the size of your system.

Sub Panel: The sub panel combines the inverters’ output (AC electricity) into a single circuit that feeds the solar meter.

Solar Meter: The solar meter measures only how much electricity your PV system produces. Here in southern Arizona, our utility companies offer NET metering. This means an additional NET meter (provided by the utility company) records the amount of electricity being sent back to the utility grid as well as how much electricity you are receiving from the utility. During the day, when you produce more energy than your building can use, it is sent back to the grid and the utility will give you credit. As you use more electricity, you will first use up any credits that you have before paying for additional electricity.

Disconnect: This enables electricians to disconnect the building’s electrical system from the solar electricity system. By switching the AC disconnect off, workers can safely perform system maintenance.

Utility Grid: Grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems interface seamlessly with the utility grid, which allows the utility grid to serve as the back-up power for your building, rather than storing excess electricity in batteries. During the day, your PV system will first power any electric loads in your building, before sending any excess generation back to the utility grid. At night you’ll draw from the utility grid, essentially using the electrical grid as a giant storage battery.

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