How Residential Solar Works

Despite a lot of science and technology behind the operation of a solar power system, it is reasonably simple to understand the basics of how a grid connected solar system works. Below we explain it in 5 easy steps.

  1. The sun shines on the solar panels and the light is turned into DC electricity by the solar cells inside the panel. Panels will still operate in overcast conditions, however bright, clear, cool days are best.
  2. The DC electricity is turned into 240 Volts AC electricity by a solar inverter/s.
  3. The solar inverter/s is wired into your switchboard and the electricity generated flows through to your property feeding any appliances that are being used at the time.
  4. Any excess solar electricity not being used is fed back into the electricity grid where the meter tracks how much is exported. Your electricity retailer will then credit you for the power fed back into the grid.
  5. At night when the sun goes down or in times of low light, you will draw electricity from the mains power grid as usual.

Solar System Sizing

When sizing a solar system, you need to consider a number of different things. How much electricity is being consumed on site? When is the electricity being consumed? How much roof space is available? What is my budget? What do you hope to achieve? Someone installing a solar system to save money may require a different system size than someone doing it primarily for environmental reasons.


As a general rule, if you are installing a solar system to save money, get a good return on investment and a fast payback period, you need to look at minimising export to the grid. Self-consumption of your solar power on site is the key to increasing savings. Exported solar electricity is generally credited at a low rate by your electricity retailer (6-8 cents), so offsetting the amount of electricity you need to purchase from your retailer at 25-35 cents will be more valuable to you.  In this case when it comes to sizing a solar system it means ideally that you want to match the solar generation to consumption during daylight hours. This can be tricky due to daily and seasonal fluctuations in solar production and variations in consumption depending on the day of the week and time of year, holidays, etc.


We’ve provided a guide below to give an indication of what size system might be appropriate for your home. Note that consumption may vary across households.

Solar Home Consultation

Green Energy Options provide a free, no obligation home solar consultation. If you would like to find out more about how solar power works, whether it is the right option for your home, what size system you should get and how much money you can save. Give us a call or simply fill out the form below and we’ll give you a call to organise a catch up.


Green Energy Options provide a professional solar site assessment of your home including:

  • Electricity bill evaluation
  • Solar system sizing recommendations
  • Savings estimates
  • Roof area available and best solar location
  • Accurate shade analysis using ‘Sun Eye’ shade measurement tool
  • Energy Efficiency advice
  • Load management options