About Photovoltaics

Solar Basics


Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems convert light from the sun into electricity. Solar cells produce direct current (DC) electricity from light, which can be used to power DC equipment or to recharge a battery.

The basic photovoltaic cell typically produces only a small amount of power. To produce more power, cells can be interconnected to form modules, which can in turn be connected into arrays to produce yet more power. Because of this modularity, photovoltaic systems can be designed to meet any electrical requirement, no matter how large or how small.

Adding batteries to your photovoltaic system will also provide a secure back-up source of electricity for your home. An inverter is required to convert the DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity to power almost all uses of electricity in the home.


Factors that affect the cost-effectiveness of a photovoltaic system

Depending on your specific need and location, there are some factors that affect cost-effectiveness, including:

  • System Size – Because of economies of scale, large systems cost less per watt than small systems.
  • Installation Complexity – More complex installations, including mounting systems on racks, working around obstructions, or on tile roofs can be more expensive.
  • System Production – Installing your system at the optimal orientation and tilt will maximize system production. The more energy your system produces over time, the lower the cost per kilowatt hour.
  • Operation and Maintenance – Compared to other distributed energy technologies, operation and maintenance costs of photovoltaic systems are relatively low. Costs may include occasional cleaning of photovoltaic modules, regular visual inspections, and possible repair or replacement of the inverter and/or components after some years.
  • Financial Incentives – Federal tax credits and other incentives may be available to help lower the effective costs of investments in photovoltaic systems. 

Is Rooftop Solar Right for Me?

Do you own your home?

You must own the property.

Does a significant portion of your roof face south?

Ideally, panels should face south.

Is your roof in good condition?

Your roof must be able to support a solar system installation.

Does your property get full sun or have only minimal shading by trees, buildings, and other structures?

A solar powered system needs as much exposure to the sun as possible to be cost effective.

Is your property free from deed restrictions on solar energy systems?

Check with your homeowners association. If there are restrictions, you may be able to pursue an architectural review with your neighborhood association to amend the restrictions.

Do you have access to funds needed and is the payback period acceptable?

Special financing is available through our HomePlus Loan Program. See sample cost projections at www.find-solar.org.


If you answered yes to all of the questions above a solar powered system may be right for you!

You can find valuable information regarding system variances, sizing, and return on investment (ROI) tools at www.find-solar.org and approved contractors at www.nabcep.org/certified-installer-locator.

Information regarding our Photovoltaics Rebate program as well as our Distributed Generation Policy can be found here.

If you answered no to any of these questions, Cooperative Solar maybe right for you!

Alternative to rooftop solar v2