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How Residential Solar Panels Work

Diagram of how solar panels work, numbered 1-6

Distributed Energy Resource

Any source of power that is not owned by our utility. For homeowners, the most popular source is solar panels.



Solar panels, the most common type of distributed energy resource, generate Direct Current (DC) power, while home appliances use Alternating Current (AC) power. An inverter converts DC power to usable AC power, and provides some limited protections for abnormal operating conditions.


Generation Meter

Measures how much energy your equipment generates. This meter is sometimes called a “production meter” and it operates separately from your existing electric meter. This is usually provided by the solar panel installer.


AC Disconnect Switch

Safely isolates your equipment from our grid. This must be accessible and lockable by our crews at all times.


Breaker Box

Allows you to shut off power to different sections of your home (or all of your home if desired).


Utility Meter

A typical meter installed in your home by your utility. This meter measures how much energy APCO supplies to your house when your solar panels aren’t producing energy. It also measures how much energy your solar panels send back to the electric grid when they produce more than you need.

Helpful guide for homeowners If you’ve been thinking about installing solar panels on your home, check out our guide.

Solar installation checklist Use our checklist to help with your decision-making.

Do's and don'ts of hiring a contractor Understand your responsibilities before you sign a contract.

Getting started with solar power Transition to a clean energy future.

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