Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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Customer Service (M-F 8a-5:30p): 425-783-1000

How Does Solar Electricity Work?

How Does Solar Electricity Work (diagram)

  1. Solar panels convert sunlight into clean, green DC electricity.
  2. An inverter – sometimes built into the panels themselves – converts DC into usable AC electricity.
  3. A production meter measures the electricity the system produces.
  4. After being measured by the production meter, the electricity becomes available for your building's use. 
  5. The electricity is used by you, or sent out to the grid.
  6. Through Net Metering your PUD meter will record energy you purchase from the grid and energy you send back out to the grid on two different registers. You will then be billed for the NET amount of energy purchased (or minimum energy charges, whichever is greater). 

Doesn’t the System Need Batteries?

Nope! More than 95% of PUD’s customer-generators have PV systems that do not include batteries. PV systems are interconnected to the grid, and through Net Metering solar customers get credit for excess power generation. Batteries are not needed in order to have power available when the sun isn’t out, or to benefit from energy produced when you aren’t using it. Batteries are an option if backup power is critical to you. If investigating PV with battery storage, make sure to learn about the added cost and maintenance of batteries as well as the impacts on estimated energy production.  

Is going solar a practical idea for your home or business?

3 Important Things to Consider image

  1. Does your site have good solar exposure? About 250 square feet of un-shaded roof space facing south (SE-SW) is a GREAT start, though not always required.
  2. How much electricity do you use in a year? Review your PUD bills, keeping in mind that energy use can vary dramatically from winter to summer.
  3. What are your financial goals? Do you have a fixed budget, are you considering financing options, or do you have a certain payback period in mind?