HOw solar works


How Solar Works

even on cloudy days!

A basic solar array is comprised of two components: solar modules (panels), and inverter(s), which converts the DC energy produced by the panels to grid-compatible AC power. Secondary components, such as racking, conduit, wires, disconnects, and meters, make up the BOS, or “balance of system..

Today, every system NWES installs includes online monitoring so you can track of the power produced by the solar system. 

Designing the system to match your power needs and your roof configuration is our job. Our goal is to generate as much power as you need, install an aesthetically good-looking and technologically efficient array, stay within the parameters of the incentive programs, and of course be fully compliant with electrical and fire safety codes.

We will recommend options to you for equipment we know and trust. We will usually offer you the Made-in-WA solar modules (panels) made by Itek Energy in Bellingham and an out-of-state alternative. When a customer goes solar, they earn benefit from two metered (per kWh) incentives. 

In the diagram above, all solar electricity produced by the solar array is measured in kWh on a Production Meter before it flows into your home or building. In WA, kWh produced multiplied by a Production Incentive (state incentive) rate determines your annual production incentive payment. Solar electricity flows into your building to be used by your many normal uses and is supplemented by grid electricity at night or whenever solar doesn’t fulfill all your needs. If your solar array produces more than you need, you have an excess of power. The excess automatically feeds into the grid via a two-way or bidirectional Utility Meter and the solar owner gets credits for that excess power. The excess is “stored” as bill credits which automatically reduce a future bill. Credits roll over month to month, but once a year (April 30) they zero out and you start a new year. This is called Net Metering. Learn more on the incentives page.

A basic system in this diagram is not a source of backup power for when the grid goes down. During an outage, the solar system will automatically disconnect and turn itself off. This is a safety feature for the grid.

When battery backup power is added to a basic system, then battery power is used when the grid goes down. Solar recharges the batteries during daylight hours when there is no grid power, or may recharge from the grid when it returns. The backup battery is a quiet clean energy alternative to a noisy

traditional generator that burns fossil fuel.

When Tesla Powerwall is added to your solar array, not only do you have a good source of quiet, clean, back-up power but your solar array will continue to generate power during a power outage. Learn more about Tesla Powerwall here.


Learn how the solar industry talks about how much power a solar system will produce and about determining the proper size solar system on the Glossary page.

Attend one of our free public solar workshops, or call us at 206-356-0601 to learn more.



Schedule your free site assessment. You’ll be given a one-on-one consultation with our specialist at your location.