How Solar Panels Work
Most rooftop solar installations use solar panels, or photovoltaic cells. These panels turn light from the sun into direct current, which passes through an inverter to become alternating current. Alternating current is then supplied directly to the property’s electrical system. If the solar panels produce more power than the property is currently using, this is called "net energy metering", or "NEM". NEM is a special billing arrangement that provides credit to customers with solar PV systems for the full retail value of the electricity their system generates. Under NEM, the customer's electric meter keeps track of how much electricity is consumed by the customer, and how much excess electricity is generated by the system and sent back into the electric utility grid. Over a 12-month period, the customer has to pay only for the net amount of electricity used from the utility over-and-above the amount of electricity generated by their solar system (in addition to monthly customer transmission, distribution, and meter service charges they incur).
Your Electric Bill
Utilities generally allow customers to choose between tiered pricing and time-of-use (TOU) plans. Solar panels concentrate on offsetting the most expensive parts of both types of plans.
Leasing vs. Buying
There are a number of ways to fund your solar project, and which one you choose will be based on your personal financial circumstances, the two top ways are leasing vs buying.
The potential environmental — land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing — can vary greatly depending on the technology.