How does sunshine become electricity?
- Sun Shines on the Solar Panels
Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. When sunlight hits your solar panels, it is converted into direct current (DC) electricity throughout the day.
- Inverter Changes Energy into Usable Electricity
The inverter is often referred to as the “brain” of the system. From your solar panels, energy goes to the inverter (or micro-inverters) where it’s converted from DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity that you can use.
- Power Up with Solar Energy
Electrical Panel—The AC electricity is sent from the inverter to your electrical panel to power your appliances and lights with solar energy. The electrical panel is often called a “breaker box.”
- Utility Meter
The utility meter measures your energy use. It actually goes backward when your system generates more power than you immediately need. This excess solar energy offsets the energy you use at night.
If you generate more than you use during a particular month, you will receive kWh energy credits for that period.
Do I need to have south facing exposure to have a solar energy system?
Although southern exposure increases the effectiveness of a residential solar power system, your home may still work for solar power without having south facing exposure.
Will my property taxes go up if I install a solar energy system?
For the time being, the value of your property in California may not be re-appraised by the County Assessor’s Office for solar-related property improvements. The addition of an active solar energy system to an existing property is automatically excluded from assessment, and normally there is no need to file an exclusion.
California Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems states: “Under the California tax code, the state does not consider solar-energy-generating equipment to add value to a piece of property. What that means is that, if you install such equipment on your property, you won’t get taxed for the value it adds.”
Only “active” solar systems can qualify, which the state defines as “solar devices, which are thermally isolated from living space or any other area where the energy is used, to provide for the collection, storage, or distribution of solar energy.” That definition will cover most solar systems, including photovoltaics, hot-water heaters, but does not normally include solar water heating for swimming pools or tubs.
There’s no limit on this exemption—you can add as much solar-power-generating equipment to your property as you want, property tax-free.