How Does Solar Technology Work?

Photovoltaic cells and concentrating solar-thermal power systems convert sunlight into energy
This energy is used to generate electricity which can be used upon production or stored for later use

Photovoltaic Cells

Photovoltaic cells absorb energy from the sun through a chemical process known as the photovoltaic effect.
Step 1: Sunlight hits photovoltaic cell and induces photovoltaic effect.
Step 2: Energy from photovoltaic effect creates electrical charges that move in response to electric field within the cell, creating a flow of electricity.
Step 3: Electricity is used or stored.

Solar-Thermal Energy

Solar-thermal technologies absorb heat from the sun and directly transfer it to heat buildings or water.
Step 1: Sunlight hits material (typically a mirror or lens) in the collector, heating up the system.
Step 2: Cool fluid/air circulates through the collector, absorbing the heat.
Step 3: Warmed fluid/air is used to heat water or space.

System Connectivity Options

On-grid systems are connected to the power grid, which supplies electricity to buildings. This connection offers a back-up to cover any gaps in solar energy supply.

Off-grid systems have no connection to the power grid, and buildings with these systems are completely dependent on solar energy. For safety, it is generally recommended that a back-up battery system and/or generator are installed to support off-grid systems.

Energy Conversion

The electricity that solar systems generate (DC) is not the same form that the electrical grid uses (AC).
In order to make the conversion from DC to AC electricity, an inverter is needed. Any unused AC will flow back into the utility meter and remain available for consumption.

New York State homeowners are eligible for net metering, or returning unused AC back to the electric grid, in the form of energy credits on their next utility bill as part of the NY-Sun Program.

Benefits of Solar Energy

Reduce monthly utility bill

Systems tend to be low-maintenance

Support the local economy

Lower personal carbon footprint

Earn credits toward electric bill

Panels can increase property value

Interested in solar energy but don't have the space or financial means to install panels?

Check out NeST's Community Solar program to learn how to subscribe to an off-site solar farm!

Don't miss our upcoming events to learn more about clean heating and cooling for your home!

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