Up on the Roof

By Kellie K. Speed | Apr 15, 2007
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Benefits of rooftop solar power systems:

Rooftop power sources have gained popularity in recent months as more homes and businesses are looking toward this outlet as a means for saving on energy costs; in the past, the selection of rooftop power systems was limited, but recent advancements in solar energy products (rooftop PV) provide additional options for self generation and provide clean, cost-effective electrical power.

Certain renewable technologies will prove better than others for rooftop power producers, deeming it necessary to check with local and regional codes, regulations and climate prior to installation. For example, wind generators can be effective in particular locations, but can be unpredictable for power generation and are not permitted in some residential regions. 

Many states offer excellent subsidy programs for solar electric systems, and these subsidies typically are administered or regulated through the local utilities or municipalities; in addition, there are federal tax incentives, so it would be wise for contractors or their customers to investigate these options.

Photovoltaic systems convert sunlight into electricity, acting as a supplementary or primary power source and are a safe, pollution-free energy alternative. One of the biggest benefits of photovoltaic power generation is that it does not require a large-scale installation to operate, which differs from conventional power generation.

Today, many people believe rooftop solar electric and solar heating/cooling can impact our energy needs significantly, making for a cleaner and greener environment. While the market for electrical power-generation equipment is enormous, the solar portion is expected to play a significant role in the near future. Solar roofing materials are likely to be more popular with new construction, as minimal additional labor cost would be involved.

Benefits of these rooftop power systems include the fact that they also can be added onto as the power demand increases, allowing generation to continue with growing needs. Solar power thermal energy system installations require only a turbine or other device to transfer the sun’s heat energy into mechanical energy, which will then produce electricity.

One disadvantage of wind and water power is that they use generators or turbines to turn generators, which require maintenance, to produce electricity. Solar power systems are virtually maintenance-free. There are no moving parts, and the systems have cells that last for decades. 


Of growing concern is the possibility that small-scale power generation used on a larger scale could create voltage fluctuations on a distribution grid. This high degree of connectivity within the grid system allows power to be transmitted over long distances, but it also allows local disturbances to propagate across the grid. As a result, anything attached to the network will create a voltage fluctuation when it is turned on or off, which may damage equipment or even cause blackouts.  

In an attempt to solve this potential problem, inverter manufacturers have worked closely with utilities. The results have proven effective, and solar electricity is used in Japan and Germany on both small-scale renewable energy systems and large-scale systems.

An inverter converts direct current (DC) power from the solar cells to alternating current (AC)—which is what most home appliances run on. With such a device, a solar home can look and operate very much like a home that is connected to a power line. The inverter or power conditioning system can control and monitor the overall photovoltaic system, converting the DC power to compatible AC power, which then feeds into the main power system.

Of course, another disadvantage of solar is susceptibility to natural disasters, which can cause blown fuses when lightning strikes. A complete shutdown means no energy would be generated. There also are other factors that have affected energy output, including reduced sunlight levels, which decreases the overall efficiency of the system.

Despite these few drawback points, green power provides a much cleaner alternative to traditional methods and is becoming increasingly popular, especially in recent years. As a result, power generators can provide many unique alternatives, allowing individual users to generate their own power, quietly and safely.    EC

SPEED is a freelance writer based in Weymouth, Mass. She can be reached at 617.529.2676 or [email protected].

About The Author

Kellie Speed is a freelance writer based in Weymouth, Mass. She can be reached at 617.529.2676 or [email protected].


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