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How Solar Power Works

Residential Solar Energy Diagram

There are four basic components in your solar energy system:

  • Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight to direct current (DC) electricity.
  • The inverter converts DC into alternating current (AC) electricity, compatible with the electric grid.
  • The electrical panel distributes power from your solar system and from your utility as needed.
  • The utility meter measures the energy you draw and feed back to the grid.
Residential Solar Panel

The sun produces enough energy in 15 minutes to supply the world with electricity for a year using today’s solar panel technology. Solar panels produce energy by using silicon to convert UV rays into electricity. SunRa Solar designs with a range of high-efficiency solar panels to meet each customer’s unique needs. All our panels are backed by a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Solar Power Equipment

We use the latest in inverter technology in our solar power systems. Designing with the option to use single inverters, optimizers, and microinveters allows us provide you with the most efficient and most informative solar energy systems. No matter the style, the inverter is essentially the brains of your solar system. It converts energy from the sun into energy for you use every day.

A Quick Note About Net Metering

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they generate but do not use, or that they add to the grid. The term “net” refers to the addition and subtraction of electricity taking place at the special meter required for a solar installation.

The homeowner will only be billed for the net amount they draw from the utility grid each month. Everything is measured in kWh, the same units that are used currently on your power bill. Sometimes in the summer, a solar energy system might produce more in a month than a family uses.

The excess power (kWh) can be carried over to the next month. Massachusetts allows the homeowner to use these “net” credits month after month until the credits are used up. Currently, they do not expire. The monetary value of each kWh credit is slightly less than full retail for each utility, according to a tariff, or schedule of rates.

To get more details about net metering for your specific location, click on the EXPLORE tab to the right or Contact Us here.

About Massachusetts Solar Energy Programs


The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program was created by the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as a next generation replacement of the successful SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Credit) program. It was designed to provide more long-term revenue certainty and remove value fluctuation for solar system owners.

To do this, the program provides a single compensation rate. Total benefits each year of the SMART Program can be predicted and tracked more accurately than in the past.

Key details:

  • There are 8 blocks of incentives, each limited to 200 MW and the program overall is currently limited to 1,600 MW total.
  • Three major utilities are mandated to participate. Each has their own allotment within the 200 MW block. Municipal utilities may participate at will.


National Grid


  • Within each block there is a predetermined rate or level of reimbursement for each kWh of solar energy.
  • By design, this solar value decreases on transition to each new block.
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SunRa Solar is consistently shopping for the best financing options for our customers. Some may choose to purchase their solar energy system in full. For others, whether you choose to borrow or lease, we partner with some of the most reputable names in the industry. Our goal is to provide each customer with an affordable, turnkey system to meet their expectation and needs.

To get the most up to date information on the latest and greatest financing programs to make solar power more affordable for you, Contact Us here.

The meter is a critical part of the solar energy system. In Massachusetts, net metering allows you to use your utility company to store your energy. Unlike a traditional power meter that spins in one direction, as you produce solar energy, your meter will literally spin backwards. Then, as you use electricity at night, the net meter allows you to pull energy from the grid so you always have power.

Whenever you are generating more power than you can use, the meter tracks the amount that you transmit to the utility grid. This is why a well designed solar system can produce enough power in a summer to help offset more power needed in winter months, when the sun shines less.

Here you can read a little more about net metering.

A solar panel is an assembly of individual solar “cells”, each almost always made from different forms of silicon. Each panel differs in the numbers of cells combined, from 60 to 72 per panel, and in the technology used in the manufacture of each cell and the assembly into a panel.

Because solar panel technology is constantly improving, there are a range of panel efficiency (%) and panel rating (kW) available for design. Not every installation calls for the newest and most expensive technology. Good system design is a balance between cost and performance, and often a well-established and earlier generation panel can deliver 25+ years of affordable, reliable service.

This is why SunRa Solar stays on top of developments and offers panels from a few manufacturers including LG Solar, one of the largest brands represented in Massachusetts, and others.

Every homeowner gets an immediate savings as soon as we flip the switch and you start to generate power. If you sign up to purchase, your agreement will spell out for you each monthly payment.

If you finance some or all of your solar energy system, your savings are easily calculated by comparing the sum of your new payments to your previous bills. If you purchase a system without financing, your monthly utility payments could be negligible.

The best news, whether you purchase outright, finance a purchase, or choose a lease you will be able to predictably bank your savings. Ask us to show you how in more detail by click to Contact Us. Or simply give us a call.

Whether paying cash or borrowing, a homeowner buying a solar energy system can take advantage of the Federal Income Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%.

Homeowners buying solar in Massachusetts are no longer able to accrue and trade Solar Renewable Energy Certificates under the new program program. The Solar Mass SMART. It was known as SREC 2 or SREC II. This program allows homeowners to sell the accrued credits to utilities in blocks of 1 MWh each. To learn more about this program and its current status, visit our Learning Center.

Massachusetts also allows Net Metering, which gives the solar system owner the ability to feed back to the utility grid through a special meter any momentarily generated solar power not needed by the home. Any extra is credited in kWh (kilowatt-hours), the same units you see on your power bill.