By Samantha J. Majka
Solar Energy World is the fastest growing installer of solar power systems in the region, and we are pleased to see such an increase in both solar power installations and interest in solar power in general. Naturally, interest tends to generate a lot of questions, and some of the most common questions are in regards to the performance of solar power in what some may consider “less than optimal” conditions. This is a great question, and it is completely understandable that consumers would be concerned about the performance of their solar panels in cloudy weather, or after sunset. Rest assured, if you make the switch to solar power, you will not be left in the dark after sunset, or have to worry about “running out” of power when the sky is cloudy. Your solar panels will continue to generate electricity, even on cloudy days, and, just like electricity that is generated by other means, solar electricity can be stored for a later use.
The solar energy that hits the Earth’s surface every hour is enough to power the entire world for one year. The trick is to capture this energy, and while solar panels do not collect every bit of energy that hits them, efficiency is improving. Fortunately for consumers, as the efficiency is improving, solar power is becoming more and more affordable (especially with solar lease). Needless to say, it is entirely possible, depending on the size of your solar panel system, to generate more energy per day than is required to satisfy the energy needs of your home.
So where does the excess energy go? One way to store this energy is through the use of battery systems. Batteries store the solar electricity for use at times when the sun is not shining, such as at night.
An easier and cheaper solution is store solar power in the existing electrical grid in a process known as net-metering. Your home is already connected to the electrical grid when you use power from a conventional source. The excess electricity generated by your solar panels “overflows” back to the grid, and back to the electric company. This builds up an electricity “credit” that you can tap into when the sun is not shining. You can see proof of this for yourself, as the electric meter on your home will actually run backward when you are generating more power than you are using. In some states, you can sell this excess electricity back to the electric company in the form of “SREC’s” or “Solar Renewable Energy Credits”. This means that you can be paid for having solar panels on your home or business, which shortens the payback period for the initial cost of installation.
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