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Solar panel installation: Explaining all the devices mounted on the side of your home

In prior Power Home Solar educational articles, we’ve looked at how your solar panels might look on your roof, illustrating how most people who get panels do not have electrical conduit running along their roofs. We also looked at how you can read your digital inverter panel, and what all those numbers mean.

With those ideas in mind, we thought it would be instructive to showcase how all the hardware needed to properly power your panels will look after being installed on the side of your home, and why each piece is needed.

Below you will see a picture of one of our recent installs, with each piece of equipment labeled to make our explanation easier.

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In this case, electrical conduit is run down the side of the home from the roof, and that energy is fed into your inverter, which is the device that converts the direct current (DC) electricity into the alternating current (AC) electricity that your home uses. The inverter panel is rated for the size of your system, so the more panels you have, the larger the inverter you need to handle all the electricity your panels generate. Inverters are not a one-size-fits-all device.

Two more things to mention about the inverter: Notice that the inverter is equipped with an on/off rapid shutdown switch. That allows you power down your solar panels in 10 seconds or less, hence the description of rapid shutdown. Also, notice the antenna on the top left of the inverter. That is a GSM (global system for mobile) antenna, which allows the data from your inverter to be sent to Solar Edge’s online monitoring platform via cell phone towers so you can digitally track production of your solar panels. If cell phone service is spotty in your area, we have a workaround for that.

From the inverter, conduit is run to the AC disconnect box, which comes with a very simple toggle switch on the right side. You’ll notice this toggle switch has a black handle. This AC disconnect box is installed to meet electrical code requirements. Powering down the AC disconnect box along with your inverter would allow our technicians to safely work on your inverter panel should it ever need service. That also means power won’t be interrupted to your home while that work is done.

From that AC disconnect box, you see conduit running out the left side before being sent inside the home to your electrical panel. That circuit is how your solar panels power all the devices in your home. Your home first uses the solar energy that your panels produce before ever drawing from the power grid. Excess power that’s not used by your home is sent back to the grid, and you are credited for it on your power bill. That allows you to benefit from all the power that your panels produce, without the added cost of batteries to your system.

There are some power companies that allow us to directly connect our AC line into their power meter can, though others do not want their meter to be touched. In the case of this install, it is the latter scenario.

The gray box on the far left of this picture is for this customer’s phone service and is unrelated to the solar installation, so don’t be confused about that!

Hopefully you learned a little bit more about how grid-connected solar works, and why we install the devices that we do.

With our innovative solar program, homeowners in our five-state coverage area (Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia) can go solar for $0 up-front cost, save money on their electric bills, and generate their own clean energy. The solar panels installed on your home are American made and come with a 25-year warranty, with many panels expected to last well beyond that.

Please feel free to contact Power Home Solar at 800-765-2715, and one of our solar representatives will help you determine whether your home qualifies for this program.

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