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Electrical Generation A photovoltaic system, also photovoltaic power system, solar PV system, PV system or casually solar array, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and directly convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to change the electrical current from DC to AC, as well as mounting, cabling and other electrical accessories to set-up a working system.

Tax Credit – There is a 30% tax credit from the Federal Government for the installation of a photovoltaic system. This tax credit is available until 2016. Other municipalities, counties, and states also have incentives to install this type of energy saving system on your property.

Payback – The life expectancy of a solar panel is projected to be 25 years according to industry standards. While the 30% tax credit is available from the Federal government (Extended Until 2018) in DC and Maryland there are also state and municipal incentives for solar. While Virginia has no state of local incentives solar can be incorporated into an overall design. (See EH 14).

Getting Started – Have a solar orientation analysis done to see if your property faces the sun sufficiently to be considered for this type of alternative energy system. Mature deciduous trees and other buildings blocking the sun will also have an impact on the effectiveness of a solar array.


  1. Electrical Review – Have an electrical review done of your homes electrical needs by a BEA representative in order to find ways to reduce your electrical needs of your property.
  2. Lighting – By switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL’s and LED’s you can reduce your lighting demand by up to 80%.
  3. Heating & Cooling – Through the use of geothermal and mini splits the amount of electrical load needed to power those systems could easily be supplied by a solar system that generates electrical power from the sun.
  4. Battery Systems – Requires batteries to store power for the times when the sun is not shining.Does not use electric utility power. The stand-alone system is termed a “separate system” by the electric utility. However, a “separate system” in the utility’s terminology can exist in a home that also has utility power as long as they are completely separated.
  5. Grid System – Uses power from the central utility when needed and supplies surplus home-generated power back to the utility. Often termed a “parallel” system by the utility. The interface between the home produced power can be metered in a manner that when power is produced by the PVs and sent into the grid the meter will run backwards. When power is brought in from the grid the meter will run in the regular direction. This is called “net metering”. Either approach (stand-alone or grid interface) can be done partially; with PVs being used in conjunction with a generator in a stand-alone system, or with the central grid power serving as a primary power source in a grid-interface system.