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A typical solar system, whether ground or roof, contains three major parts: the solar panels, the mounting structure, and the inverters. The panels are supported by the mounting structure, which will vary based on whether the system is ground or roof mounted. The panels typically consist of lightweight panels with metal frames and a glass surface that protects the solar cells, and can range from four to six feet in length.
Similar to a lightning rod, the solar cells draw in energy from the sunlight and convert it into direct current, or DC electricity. The DC energy then flows into the inverters, which convert it into alternating current, or AC electricity.
Like water, electricity flows down the path of least resistance, and so the AC electricity will flow from the inverters into the building that the system was designed to power. Once enough electricity is in the building to power it, any excess energy is siphoned off onto the electric grid. Additionally, for every 1000 kilowatt hours produced by the system, regardless of where that energy goes, the owner will be awarded one Solar Renewable Energy Credit, or SREC.