How to Install a Power Inverter & Solar Panel to an Electrical Panel

Solar panel electrical systems generate direct current (DC) electricity for storage in a battery and also can be used to run some appliances in your home; however, if you anticipate meeting all of your home's electrical needs through solar power or would like to sell excess alternative energy to your utility company, you will have to connect your system to an inverter and then to your electrical panel.

Solar Electricity for Your Home and Public Utility

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Step 1

Connect your solar panel array to your storage battery. The solar panel array is your electrical source. It will be connected to a charge controller first to regulate the rate of electrical current that is added to your battery. The charge controller is necessary to prevent overcharge, a safety risk that can damage the battery. The DC electricity is conducted via metal wire through the charge controller to your battery.

Step 2

Connect your battery to a power inverter. The DC electricity must be converted to alternating current (AC) electricity, the accepted electrical current for most appliances and the national utility grid. Wiring will go from the battery to a circuit breaker and shunt, and then transport DC electricity into the inverter. The circuit breaker and shunt allow the electric current to be broken to prevent overload and damage, another way to regulate the flow of electricity in your system.

Step 3

Connect your power inverter to the AC fuse box in your home. The power inverter uses a series of switches and transformers to convert the DC to AC electricity necessary to provide power to your outlets and in turn appliances and electronics.

The wires connected to your electric panel are the final stop along the conductive wiring connections. The sun's energy has been converted to an electrical current, further refined into a more malleable current, and now powers your electronics, appliances and light bulbs.

Step 4

Connect a AC generator to your inverter to provide additional power when solar energy is not enough. Solar energy can be unpredictable, and solar panels are only 15 percent efficient at converting the sun's energy into electrical currents. For these reasons, a backup source of energy is necessary to meet your power needs.

Step 5

Connect your electric panel to a special utility meter. If by chance your solar panel array is large enough and/or your house has limited electrical requirements (i.e., you home is energy-efficient), you may be able to sell excess electricity back to your utility company. Only AC electricity is acceptable. In order to sell electricity generated from your home, you need a special electric meter that runs backward as well as forward. Any electricity you use from the grid will increase your kilowatt-hour usage, but any electricity you generate back to the grid decreases your usage, and your bill is credited.

Warning

  • All wiring must be done by a licensed electrical equipment contractor. All electrical components of the system, including solar panel modules and wiring, must be grounded.

About the Author

Diane Bacher is a certified business energy professional with more than 16 years of experience in the environmental and energy sector. She has written numerous data and regulatory compliance reports for industrial, financial, educational and information-technology clients. Bacher's publications include the New Jersey Technology Council's "Tech News."