1 - Solar Modules: These convert sunlight to electrical power. Typically, they are mounted in a steel frame that is attached to the roof of the home or commercial property, yet they can also be setup on the ground mounted close to the site.
2 - Inverter: Power produced by the solar modules is sent to a device called an inverter (or power converter) that converts the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Alternating current is the same type of electrical power supplied to homes and businesses by the utility companies.
3 - Electrical Panel: Power travels from the inverter to a breaker box or electrical service panel. This electricity is then distributed throughout the structure for use.
4 - Utility Meter: When excess power is produced by the solar system (for instance during a work day at a residence or over the weekend at a business), the electricity flows into the grid through the electric meter. This then causes the meter to run backwards, making a credit with the utility company, which offsets any future demand to the grid. This arrangement is known as net metering and is usually mandated by a state electricity policy.
5 - Utility Grid: The state and national infrastructure that links homes and businesses to electricity generating facilities. The grid automatically provides electricity when household or business demand exceeds solar production.
Each solar electric generation system is configured to the unique needs of the structure, household or business, although the components of each system are often the same.