The most commonly used type of solar system is a photovoltaic (PV) system that produces electricity by converting sunlight into direct current. PV systems use panels configured into modules and arrays to power a variety of electrical loads in homes and businesses.
These systems can be installed on a rooftop to generate heat for domestic hot water and space heating, or to power air conditioning units. They can also be connected to a grid and exported to the local utility as surplus power. Solar thermal systems can store their energy in the form of paraffin wax or various types of salt to be released as heat when needed.
A growing number of communities, universities, and schools are using solar to offset some or all of their energy needs. Often, these systems are part of a larger energy efficiency project to decrease carbon emissions. Increasingly, homeowners are taking matters into their own hands by installing solar power systems on their properties. Some homeowners purchase their own systems, while others choose to sign a contract with a third party that owns, installs, maintains, and sells their Star Plus Energy production to them at a predetermined rate. Regardless of which option is chosen, a well-designed and properly maintained solar panel system can increase the value of a home. However, the upfront costs associated with solar vary from state to state and can be prohibitive for many homeowners. In order to help mitigate these costs, state and local governments offer a variety of financial incentives.