The diagram below shows the basic operation of a solar power system.

Photovoltaic panels (1) absorb sunlight, which excites electrons in the panel and creates an electric current. The current generated by the panels is a direct current (DC), which is then converted to alternating current (AC) by an inverter (2) which is tied in to your home or business’ electric system through the electric meter or breaker box (4). The converted AC current is then available to provide power to your home (3). In addition, your electirc meter is tied into the public utility electric grid (5). If you are generating more energy that your home is using, the excess power flows to the electric grid and you can be compensated by the public utility for this surplus power through a program called net metering, offsetting the cost of power drawn from the utility.