Solar Electric (photovoltaic)

12.4 kW photovoltaic roof mount

12.4 kW photovoltaic roof mount

Full Spectrum Solar specializes in "grid-interactive" solar electric systems. These systems often produce more power than the site uses during the day and feed it into the grid through the electric meter, causing it to spin backwards. This extra power is sold to the utility, resulting in a lower electric bill or even a monthly credit.

How it works: PV stands for photovoltaic, which describes materials that produce an electric current when exposed to sunlight. There are several types of PV technologies but the most common and efficient is the crystalline silicon cell. These cells are assembled together in an aluminum frame and covered with tempered glass. All PV solar panels generate direct current (DC), which flows through wiring to an inverter, often mounted in a garage or basement. The inverter turns the DC energy into alternating current (AC), the type of electricity provided by the electrical grid. The AC power is routed to either the building's main electrical panel or, in some cases, directly to an electric meter. Not all systems use a central inverter: a newer option that's quickly becoming popular is panel-mounted microinverters. In some situations, these miniature units can provide greater efficiency and reliability than traditional single inverter systems.

Image Courtesy Sunpower Corporation

Image Courtesy Sunpower Corporation

A major advantage of solar PV is that there are no moving parts aside from the electrons, creating the most reliable and efficient renewable energy system available. Grid-tied systems waste very little energy because any energy that is not immediately consumed is fed into the grid and sold to other customers. Also, PV panels are sustainable - the silicon cells are crystallized from purified sand and can be recycled along with the aluminum and glass after a few decades of use.

PV technology continues to become cheaper and more efficient while fossil fuels generally become more difficult and costly to extract via techniques such as hydrofracking, tar sand refinement and deep-sea oil drilling. The current pricing on panels and inverters is near the lowest ever and competition among manufacturers is intense. There's never been a better time to go solar!

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