Solar Electric Systems

Produce your own electricity using free, clean, renewable energy from the sun! Every hour, enough sunlight hits the earth to power the entire world for year. Convert that sunlight into electricity for your home with a solar electric system from Stitt Energy Systems. With no moving parts, our high quality systems are durable, reliable, and ready to give you a clean, independent source of energy for years to come. They’re also eligible for a 30% federal tax credit and state and utility rebates.

How Does a Solar Electric System Work?

A solar electric system (a.k.a. photovoltaic or PV system) uses PV modules and inverters to change sunlight into electricity. A flat-plate PV module typically consists of 60 interconnected monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells made of semiconductor materials. When sunlight hits the cells, it causes electrons to flow through the module and generate direct current (DC) electricity. The inverter then changes the DC current into alternating current (AC) that can be used by electrical loads like lights, computers, and refrigerators. Read more about the inner workings of individual PV system components here.
 
Modules can be mounted on a roof or on a pole or ground stand. They produce the most electricity on clear, cold days when they are perpendicular to the sun. Modules that are not mounted on a tracking system produce the most when they face solar south, are completely free of shade, and are mounted at an angle close to your latitude.
 
Inverters change DC current to AC current at the module level or at the string (a series of modules wired together) level. Stitt Energy often uses micro-inverters mounted beneath each modules because of their efficiency and reporting capabilities.
 
Balance of system components include all of the other items needed to install a PV system: racking, wiring, electrical disconnects, conduit, and other miscellaneous parts.  
 

What Size PV System Do You Need?

PV systems can be small enough to offset a portion of your utility bill or large enough to produce all the electricity you need! Sizing your system to produce the amount of electricity you want depends on knowing how much electricity you use every month.

System size is defined in kilowatts of DC power (1 kilowatt = 1000 watts). PV modules are rated in DC watts typically ranging from 180 to 240 watts. The number of PV modules in a system multiplied by the rated watts per module equals total system size. For example, if you installed ten 200-watt modules, you would have a 2-kilowatt system (10 modules x 200 watts per module = 2000 watts or 2 kilowatts).

In 2010, the average annual electricity consumption for a residential utility customer in the U.S. was 958 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month. Reducing your current load to use less than that makes your PV system more cost effective because conservation is less expensive per watt than generating power. Using conservative numbers, a stationary, well-installed, 2kW grid-tied system in Northwest Arkansas could generate an average of 240 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. Other variables that determine system sizing include: 

  • How much sun is available at your site
  • How much shade-free space you have
  • How much you have to spend
  • Whether you want to start small and add to your system later
  • What type of system you want (grid-tied, grid-tied with back up, or off-grid)
  • How much you can reduce your current load

To correctly size a PV system, Stitt Energy Systems first conducts a load analysis to identify ways to help reduce consumption. Click here to learn how you can reduce your electrical load immediately. We also conduct a site visit and use a Solar Pathfinder to assess your solar resource and determine the best location for your system.

 

What Type of System Is Best for You?

Deciding what type of PV system is right for you depends on whether or not you want it to generate useable electricity when utility power is down. Grid-tied systems are the simplest, most efficient and economical PV systems to install. They’re connected to the utility company grid and shut down automatically when utility power is out. When grid-tied systems produce more electricity than you can use at the time, they send the extra power to the utility company via existing utility lines. When they don’t produce enough power to meet demands, they automatically draw power from the utility. If you want your system to provide power even when utility power is out, choose a grid-tied battery (or generator) back-up system. Or go off-grid and be completely independent of the utility company! Learn more about these different systems here. Stitt Energy helps you choose the best system for your needs!

Net Metering

Utility companies require a completed application with supporting documentation before they let you connect to their lines and net meter, or run your meter backwards. The process can take up to 30 days. After your system is installed, utility personnel inspect it for compliance with local, state, and national electric codes to be sure that power from your solar array cannot be sent to the grid during a power outage. A licensed electrician makes the final connection to the utility meter.