15th April 2014
In simplistic forms, home solar power works by a very simple system. First the sun shines on the solar panels that make energy through from the suns radiation. That energy is collected by the solar panels in the form of DC current electricity. This DC electricity is the same current used on Automobile car batteries. The solar panels are then connected to an inverter which converts the DC electricity to AC. This AC electricity is the same current found in your home.
The ways in which you can setup your system can be very different. Currently the most common way is to have the inverter give electricity to your house and also to the main power grid connected to your home. The level to which you have used the different sources are recorded by the utility grid meter on your house.
Here is an illustration to demonstrate a typical grid connected system.
Another way of setting up the system can be in a way that does not rely on the main power grid at all. To do this, off grid solar users combine a battery system between the solar panels and the inverter which allows the electricity made by the panels to be stored allowing the home owner to have constant access to solar made electricity without using the main power grid at all. This system is advantageous for people in remote ares that are not near utility infrastructure.
On the rise to be the most popular way of setting up a home solar system is using a mix between battery power and the main power grid. With this system, electricity users have the best of both worlds. Using their off grid battery stored electricity when it is available and using the main power grid as a backup when the battery stored electricity runs out.
What is great with the battery / grid mix system is that you can scale the size of battery bank sizes depending on your budget and electricity use as opposed to having to spend money on a full scale grid free system as mentioned before. Eventually when your budget allows, and when you have learnt more about your electricity use, you can scale up your battery bank gradually to minimize the times that the main power grid switches over. Overall being an off grid power user with the main power grid as backup for extreme situations.