How Solar Works

Texas Solar Outfitters designs and installs electricity generating (PV) solar systems for homes as well as commercial and industrial businesses. Solar (PV) panels convert the sun’s light energy into electricity.

Solar Energy Basics

How a photovoltaic cell converts sunlight into an electric charge.
Complete Commercial And Residential Solar Systems

A grid-tied system balances the load demand of the property with the array's generation capacity…essentially 'spinning' the meter backwards in the process.

Texas Solar Outfitters designs and installs electricity generating (PV) solar systems for homes as well as commercial and industrial businesses. Solar (PV) panels convert the sun’s light energy into electricity.

Most commonly, a homeowner or business will install a solar PV system to generate some or all of their own electricity, while maintaining the connection to their utility – the grid. A grid-tied system balances the load demand of the property with the array’s generation capacity, drawing from the grid as needed, or putting excess solar-generated power back on… essentially ‘spinning’ the meter backwards in the process.

In most cases, we recommend customers ‘size’ their grid-tied system based on the amount of electricity they use during their average load months, typically March/ April for homes in Texas. This results in a system that usually covers about 60-70% of the property’s annual electricity usage, without generating net excess capacity over the course of the full year. Find out how you can OWN YOU ENERGY®! Call (713) 802-0223, or stop by our office to chat with us in person and see some of the equipment we carry.

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Check out some of our most frequently asked questions!

Solar energy uses the sun’s rays to create heat or electricity. It is an unlimited, renewable resource, valued for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and reliable manner.

Solar panels are flat panels of photovoltaic arrays mounted on a roof or a pole to capture sunlight. Building- integrated photovoltaic materials are PV arrays that are integrated into the building material itself, such as windows, roof tiles, or walls. Solar panels work well for retrofits or remodels, while BIPV are appropriate for new construction or a major renovation.

A 5kW solar electric system will cost approximately $20,000. That total includes the cost for all components – solar panels, panel mounts, and inverter – and labor associated with installation. Be sure to keep in mind all the money you’ll save in lower electric bills and tax credits.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on how much electricity you use and how efficient the appliances are that you operate. In general, expect to generate excess electricity in the winter (when usage is lower), which can offset the energy you use from the grid in the summer.

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies typically meet electric utility requirements. Electric utilities usually require that homeowners who take advantage of net metering sign an interconnection agreement.

Solar photovoltaic panels require little maintenance – no need to wash or dust. It is, however, important to place panels where they’ll remain clear of shade and debris. Thus, you’ll have to wipe them off if too many leaves fall on them. Solar hot water collection arrays don’t need much attention, either. It does help to periodically use a window wash brush, biodegradable soap, and water to clean the tubes.

Yes, and we can help. Many of our brands have payment plan options available.  Please let us know you are interested in a payment plan and we can explain some of the options.  Other options may include a home equity loan from your bank or rolling the cost into your construction loan on a new house.

As with any major investment, seeking information from multiple professionals can provide constructive advice, set realistic expectations, and helpfine-tune the design that will work best for your home.

Yes. We will need to obtain building permits to install a solar photovoltaic system. Similarly, building, electrical, and plumbing codes also apply. That said, residential solar power systems don’t use “radical” building techniques, and most jurisdictions have building codes that fully embrace solar energy technology. Solar professionals roll the price for permits into their cost estimate. We will also work with your Homeowner’s Association to ensure that the system is installed in accordance with their restrictions for your neighborhood.

The earlier the better. Solar installation professionals, like us, can help you determine the type and size of the system that best suits your needs.  If you are building a home, we are always available to discuss some general guidelines with your architect to ensure maximum production.  If your home is already built, we can offer a variety of options to maximize your production and lower your costs.

You’ll need a photovoltaic array to capture the sun’s energy, an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) produced from the photovoltaic cells into alternating current (AC) used by your home, and a house utility meter – called a “smart meter” – that can record both the electricity produced from your home’s solar system as well as any power you may use off the grid. These system components are then connected through a series of wiring. The photovoltaic panels are secured to your roof with aluminum rails.

To estimate how much a solar electric system may cost, determine your current energy needs and costs, and compare against your future anticipated use. Once you have a sense of how much energy you use, we can help you evaluate the cost and benefits of purchasing solar power. Fortunately, in today’s market you can take advantage of tax credits, rebates, and other financial incentives that create attractive and competitive prices for solar PV systems in the Houston area.

Planning, configuring, and ordering materials for your solar energy system can take up to a few weeks.  We also usually must get permits from the city and approval from your Homeowners Association.  Sometimes those steps can take a month (or longer).  The actual installation at your home can typically be completed in just few days once the paperwork is in place.  There are then inspections that happen before we “flip the switch”…so the total project is anywhere between a few weeks and 2-3 months.

Net meters look very much like other outdoor meters, with one notable exception – they “spin” both forward and backward, recording both the power produced and power used.  Within the Houston area, all CenterPoint meters are already capable of measuring power in both directions.  With some of our rural customers on Sam Houston Electric CoOp, Navasota CoOp, Victoria Electric CoOp, and others we coordinate with your electric utility provider to install this newer meter as part of the project.