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How Solar Energy Works

Learn how to put the sun’s power to work in your home.

 

Solar energy is an infinitely renewable resource that uses the sun’s rays to generate electricity for use in your home. By going solar, you can reduce your energy costs and also lower your dependence on fossil fuels, thereby making your own contribution to a cleaner environment.

The basics

A residential solar-energy system uses solar modules, made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, to harvest the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that can be used to power your lights, appliances and other electrical devices in the home.

Types of solar systems

Grid-tied PV systems

A grid-tied system is the most common and least expensive of all residential solar systems. It allows you to use your own solar-generated electricity to save energy and reduce costs. At times when the PV system isn’t producing electricity, such as at night, electricity is provided by the utility company’s grid, or network of power stations.

One of the benefits of a grid-tied system is that any excess electricity produced by your solar system can be fed back to the grid through a process known as net-metering. With net-metering, which is available in most areas, when you use electricity from the grid your meter spins forward. The less electricity you use from off the grid, the slower your meter spins. Even better, when you are feeding electricity back to the grid, your meter spins backwards!

It’s important to note that the government and utility company rebate incentives that can make installing a solar system so much more affordable usually aren’t available unless your system is grid-tied.

Stand-alone PV systems

Stand-alone PV systems, also called off-the-grid or off-grid, operate independently from the utility grid, providing all of the electricity needed in the home. Stand-alone systems are much more expensive than grid-tied systems. However, for homes located in remote areas without utility service, or where installing power lines would be extremely costly, a stand-alone system is a good option.

Advantages of the SunSource® Home Energy System

The SunSource Home Energy System is a grid-tied PV system that uses as its platform a high-efficiency air conditioner or heat pump from the Dave Lennox Signature® Collection. These units come solar-ready, which means you can add solar modules to create a solar energy system, if and when you want one.

Upgrading to a high-efficiency air conditioner or heat pump from Lennox will allow you to reduce the energy demand of your home before adding solar.

You can start small, with one or two modules, and add more (up to 15 total, per outdoor unit) when your needs change or budget permits.

How SunSource works to reduce your utility costs
  • The solar modules harness the sun’s energy to power the SunSource® Solar-Ready heat pump or air conditioner.
  • When the heat pump or air conditioner isn’t running, the solar power can also operate other electrical devices in your home.
  • With net-metering, any surplus power goes back to the grid possibly entitling homeowners like you to a credit.
  • A communication module, which sends performance information for each solar module to a monitoring website, allows you to see the system status, energy production, and also shows the environmental benefits of using renewable energy for your home.

To learn more about how the SunSource Home Energy System works, tour our solar house.

© 2014 Lennox International Inc.