Practical Solar Power

Solar Power-How it works physically

Solar Power-How it works regulatorally

Grid tied vs. Non-Grid tied

With the solar power system hooked into your house through your circuit breaker panel you have a grid tied system, it is tied the power grid that you already rely on (in western Pennsylvania [excluding greater Pittsburg] that is Penn Power's electrical grid who is a subsidiary of First Energy) . Having a grid tied system means that
Having a non-grid tied system means that
In my opinion the only benefit of having a non-grid-tied system is the bragging rights and skipping the interconnection application.

Applying to tie your system to the grid.

Connecting to the power grid with small scale power generation equipment (<50kW for residences) is called interconnection. Pennsylvania amended the laws governing small energy generators in 2008 and mandated net metering with the power company responsible for installing the meter capable of turning backwards at no charge to their customer. You must apply to make the connection before you install your system. To fill out the application you need
We have currently have a complete application in and are awaiting their comment. When the company gives the ok it is provisional, it allows you to install and test your solar power system. When it is correct, you must have it inspected by the local electrical inspector.

Solar Power-How it works economically

Pennsylvania and the Federal government have incentives available for those who install alternative energy systems. Pennsylvania: The program for solar power money is called Pennsylvania Sunshine Program and a good discussion of this program is available at solar power rocks. Since this is a tax rebate program we couldn't use it as Westminster College is a tax-exempt entity. The other catch that I see is that the application must go through a certified installer, so this may not work for a DIY installation. Feds: The federal government has a 30/% Solar Investment Tax Credit which is discussed here. According to the Department of Energy your solar power system needs to be installed before December 31, 2016.

Where we bought our equipment

Wholesale Solar, they had the most straight forward pricing information and were quite responsive to any needs we had.