Solar energy is energy generated from the sun. It may be in the form of passive solar, which involves capturing the heat from the sun, or photovoltaic solar, which uses light from the sun to generate electric energy.
Photovoltaic cells (also known as solar cells) convert light from the sun into electricity. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are made from materials such as silicon and convert photons from the sun’s rays directly into electrons to produce an electric current. The cells are connected together to form a module, also known as a solar panel. Once the light hits the panels and is absorbed, electricity is generated.
Solar energy is a great environmental benefit because it is clean, affordable and sustainable.
There are three types of solar panels:
- Photovoltaic (PV): Converts light directly to electricity
- Concentrating solar power (CSP): Uses heat from the sun to generate electricity
- Solar thermal systems: Collect thermal energy to provide hot water and air conditioning
Photovoltaic systems are fairly simple. They consist primarily of photovoltaic panels, an inverter and the necessary wiring to connect these devices into your home electric system.
Solar panels require very little maintenance. Their estimated life span is 25 years or longer. Occasionally, panels will need to be cleaned of debris from weather and anything blocking the sun. Some components require regular and professional inspections. This is the case for the inverter, which may need to be replaced more often.
Solar panels absorb energy from the sun by way of a semiconductor (typically silicon) and generate a direct current electrical source. An inverter is used to convert the source to an alternating current source. Learn more about how solar works by watching this video.
In addition to any purchase or lease agreements for the solar equipment and installation, an interconnection agreement with Cobb EMC is required to ensure a safe and proper interconnection with the electric distribution system. Click here to find out the steps to take prior to installing a photovoltaic system.
The amount of sun available to generate energy in your area will vary, depending on latitude (sun angle), cloud cover and a clear path to the sun. Some of the considerations include: south-facing roof structure, age/condition of your roof and trees or other structures that may cause shading. Georgia averages about four to five hours of sun per day. You will need to consider several factors and consult one of our recommended solar contractors to learn if your home is suitable for a solar installation.
Solar panels will work on cloudy days but not as efficiently and will only produce a limited amount of electricity. Sunshine is the "fuel" for your solar panels. While we cannot control the weather and cloud cover, placing your solar panels in areas that have direct access to the most sunshine will help your system be more productive.
Battery storage may be ideal for some small scale photovoltaic systems. However, this method requires additional maintenance and can be very costly. Most members remain connected to the grid for access to continuous, reliable electricity at all times.
Most likely your solar system will not generate all the energy you need all of the time. To ensure a continuous supply of energy, it’s best to keep your existing electric account with Cobb EMC.
When your solar system is connected to Cobb EMC’s electric grid, you will not have electric power from your solar panels during an outage.
Net metering is a system in which solar panels or other renewable energy generators are connected to a public-utility power grid and surplus power is transferred onto the grid, allowing members to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility.
Yes, homeowners who install solar to their system prior to January 1, 2020 are eligible to receive a federal income tax credit of 30 percent. These credits are subject to change. Visit our solar resources page to find more information.
Cobb EMC provides a list of local solar contractors. Click here to find it.
Price is only one factor to consider when selecting a renewable energy installer. Here are some other considerations:
- Is the company licensed or certified?
- How many years of experience do they have working with solar energy?
- Can the company provide you with a copy of their current business license?
- Will the company provide references?
- Is the company registered with the Better Business Bureau?
- How many systems has the company installed in the last year?
- How long will the installation process take?
- How long will the company monitor the installations after they are completed?
- How long does the warranty last? What does it cover?
- Does the company offer repair services? What are the rates?