Solar power installations started to gain popularity in the early 1970s, experienced a slump in the early 1980s due to falling oil prices, and found its footing again in the late 1990s. Concern over oil supplies, greater awareness of global warming, and improved solar technology have more people looking at solar power as an attractive option. Even though it’s been around for a while, many people still don’t know much about it beyond seeing the occasional panel on construction lights or rooftops. Here are the most common questions heard by New Jersey solar installers, and answers that will shed some light on solar energy.
How does it work?
The solar panels that you commonly see being used for residential purposes are made up of a network of photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells are made of semiconductor materials, typically silicon, and when light from the sun hits them, it is absorbed by this material as energy. This energy causes the electrons to start moving about freely; electrical fields in the PV cell force the electrons to move in one direction, forming a direct current. An inverter converts this into an alternating current that you can use to power your home.
What happens when it’s cloudy or dark outside?
PV panels will still generate power on cloudy days, but not as much as it will on clear, sunny days. The average residential solar power system is connected to the homeowner’s current electrical service. It’s very rare to be completely off the grid. So at night, power is drawn from the utility company. Excess power that is generated on sunny days goes back into the grid. In some areas, the electric company will actually buy any excess electricity that you generate.
How long will my solar power system last?
PV panels are sturdy and durable. They have no moving parts, and typically last thirty years or more. The best way to make sure your PV system works as it should for a very long time is to have it properly installed and maintained. Maintenance is minimal; keeping the panels clean will make sure they’re receiving ample sunlight.
Solar power is clean, renewable and sustainable. Improved technology has made it more effective as well as more affordable. Talk to your solar power contractor to find out if a solar installation would be a good investment for you.
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