When it comes to making the switch to solar energy, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision with the right guide on your side. Here at Meraki Solar, learning how solar energy works starts by taking the time to understand your system, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Solar Roof

What Are the Top Three Benefits of Residential Solar Energy?

Homeowners have unlimited access to renewable and sustainable energy: solar energy. Now more than ever, homeowners are rapidly switching to solar panels for their homes to take advantage of this plentiful resource, reduce their carbon footprint, and save money. Generating your own electricity starts with a simple phone call.

You Could
Save Money

When you install solar panels on your home, you have the potential to save big on your monthly utility bill. The amount you save, however, will vary depending on how much electricity your home uses, how big your solar panel system is, how much sun your panels receive, and more.

Solar Technology is Environmentally Friendly

Every kilowatt of solar power your panels produce can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other dangerous pollutants. Solar panels can also reduce water consumption and may help reverse the damage already done to our planet.

Federal Solar Tax Credit for Homeowners

Thanks to federal solar tax credits, homeowners may be eligible to receive a reduction of income taxes when they choose to install solar panels. This tax credit may vary by state, but qualifying homeowners can reap the benefits of solar for their homes and bank accounts.

Solar Homeowner
Solar Homeowner Mobile

How Do Solar
Panels Work?

Solar panels may seem complicated at first, but in reality, the process of understanding how solar panels generate electricity is rather simple! When you install solar panels on your home, the panels absorb solar electricity and then convert that energy into power for your home.

Photovoltaic cells (PV cells), or solar cells, capture solar power and transport it to your system’s inverter. There, the energy is converted from direct current (DC) electricity into useable, alternating current (AC) electricity.

Once that process is complete, your electricity can be used by your home. Unused or overproduced power is sent out into your communities electricity grid, managed by your local electric company.

Solar Panel close-up

What Happens to the Power My Solar Panels Produce?

When your solar panels produce energy, the direction of the electricity may vary depending on your specific installation setup. However, the most cost-efficient and reliable option is to connect your system to the power grid.

Connecting to the
Solar Grid

If you prefer to stick to the basics, connecting to the solar grid is the tried and true method of producing, using, and recycling your unused solar electricity. On-grid solar means that your solar panels are not the only source of electricity for your home. When you’re on the grid, your electric company can still supplement your power needs should your use exceed the energy your panels produce.

Your AC electricity flows to your home’s electric panel and into your home for use. The excess electricity you produce is sent to the grid to be used by your community. Using this path in accordance with the net metering process can give you a deduction on your utility bill and may result in a refund for your surplus electricity.

The Five Steps to Understanding How Solar Energy Works

While every home is unique, the same can’t be said of a solar panel system. While your solar system will be designed to fit your specific home, every solar panel system is made up of the same parts. In order to understand this process better, it’s important to first learn all the parts of your solar panel system.

1. Sunlight / Solar Energy
  • Sunlight hits the solar panels and the solar energy generates an electric (DC) current
2. Solar Panels
  • Your solar panels are installed on your roof and placement is designed for maximum solar exposure
3. Inverter
  • The electric current generated by your solar panels moves to the inverter, which is designed to convert DC electricity to AC, which is the most useable residential form of power
4. Breaker Box
  • Your converted AC electricity moves to the breaker box, which directs the current to your outlets and any items using power
5. Electricity Production
  • All unused electricity flows through a utility meter and enters the power grid
  • In the event your usage exceeds your production, power can also be drawn from the grid
How Solar Works Illustration
1 2 3 4 5

Photovoltaic Cells and Solar Panels

A single solar panel is made up of thousands of tiny PV (photovoltaic) cells. These minute cells work to create electricity that is transferred into DC energy. While they don’t produce electricity themselves, they are one of the most crucial pieces of the solar production process.

An efficient PV solar cell is measured by how much renewable energy it produces from the sun’s energy each day. That said, the amount of electricity each solar cell can produce depends on the quality of light they receive each day. Before installing solar panels, discuss location options with your team.

Photovoltaic Cells and Solar Panels Svg
Solar Inverter Svg

Solar Inverter

Once your PV cells have done their work, their concentrated solar power becomes DC electricity, which then moves to the inverter to be converted to AC electricity. This AC power is what you can use in your home to use any items you plug into an electrical outlet.

The solar inverter is usually installed as close to the solar panels as possible, while also maintaining close proximity to your main fuse box.

Your Fuse Box

Your home’s main fuse box is likely located in your garage, basement, or another place that’s easy to access. Wherever it is, that will help your solar team find the best place to install your inverter so your AC current is efficiently directed to be used in your home.

Think of your fuse box as the main power hub of your home, where all the electricity for your home is redirected from. If your fuse box receives excess energy, it can then be redirected from this hub back into the grid.

Fuse Box Svg
Net Metering Svg

Net Metering

The net metering process takes the solar energy you don’t need and directs it back to your local power grid. Many power companies offer homeowners money back on their overproduced renewable energy production, which means you could save more money each month on your electric bill if you need to use power from the grid at certain times of the year.

Additionally, if your solar panels don’t produce enough power on a rainy day to sustain your usage, your home can draw in more power from the grid to give you all the electricity you and your family need! This relationship is a win-win for homeowners, ensuring that you’re power needs are covered.

Powering Your Home

The amount of electricity it will take to power your home will vary depending on the size of your home, the time of year, and your family’s habits. When your solar energy team is designing your solar panel system, it’s vital that you’re thorough in the information you provide so that your system can produce enough electricity for your home.

Powering Your Home Svg


Choosing to go solar is a big decision, and we’re sure you will have many questions along the way. To help you start, here are some FAQs that can help you begin your solar-focused inquiries.