Solar Basics

Like a lot of good things, solar is simple.


  1. Solar Panels
    Solar panels are installed on your roof or a nearby structure. These panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into DC electricity.

  2. Inverter
    The DC power from the solar panels is sent to an inverter, where it is converted into AC power, the standard electrical current used to power your home.

  3. Electrical Panel
    AC power travels from the inverter to the electrical cabinet, often called a breaker box. This power is then available to service all of your electrical needs.

  4. Utility Meter
    The utility meter continually measures your electrical supply; when your solar system produces more power than you need, the meter literally spins backwards, accumulating credits with the utility company that will offset your future bill. This is called “net metering”.

  5. Utility Grid
    Your home remains connected to the utility grid to supply you with electricity when you need more power than your system is producing, such as at night.

  6. Continuous Energy Production Monitoring
    The Microgrid monitoring system continually measures your home’s electricity usage. With a clear picture of your electricity patterns and recommendations from Microgrid, you can better manage your energy consumption and reduce utility costs. 

To determine if solar is suitable for a home, we carefully evaluate site conditions, including roof layout and any shading issues.

Roof layout:

An actual Microgrid Solar customer in Creve Coeur.

A Microgrid Solar customer in Creve Coeur.

The best sides of the roof for solar are those that face south, southwest or southeast. In many situations we can design systems that are compatible with east or west facing roofs as well. It is also important to be sure there is a large enough area to accommodate the solar array. Generally, we look for at least 300-400 square feet of clear roof area on the side or sides of the roof where the solar will be located. Flat roofs are usually good locations for solar.


The side or sides of the roof where the solar modules will be located should have little or no shading between 9:00am and 3:00pm. If there is shade from trees, we are equipped to help homeowners reduce the foliage or even remove a tree when it makes financial sense. If your roof is too heavily shaded, you may want to consider a ground-mounted system or a solar awning or canopy in an area of your property that gets more sunlight.

How to Know for Sure:

The best way to know for sure that solar is suitable for your home is to discuss it with one of our solar analysts. The analyst will look at satellite images while you are on the phone and discuss your solar options. Microgrid also has specialized equipment that allows us to measure the exact roof orientation and amount of shading. This on-site analysis is provided at no cost to homeowners interested in solar.

Prior to any installation, one of our Design & Installation Managers will do a thorough inspection of your home to verify that the roof direction, shading conditions, structural integrity and electrical system are acceptable.

  1. A financial return with every sunrise
    Your solar savings begin when you flip the switch on your solar electric system and grow over time. It’s a great long-term investment.
  2. Sell excess power to the utility company
    Talk about turning the tables! Whenever you are generating more power than you need, your meter will spin backwards and the utility company will credit you for your excess power.
  3. A huge 30% federal tax credit
    Right now, Uncle Sam will pay for 30% of the cost of your new system.
  4. Microgrid financing options
    Some homeowners choose to finance the part of the purchase price that the incentives do not cover. Microgrid’s “Free Solar for a Year” program allows you to pay nothing for 12 months. At the end of the year, you can pay down the loan amount with your incentive funds and roll the remaining amount into an installment loan.
  5. Protect yourself from rising electricity rates
    When you switch to solar power, you will lock-in low, predictable electricity costs for years into the future. As utility rates continue to rise, your savings will grow every year.
  6. Enjoy the satisfaction of energy independence
    There is emotional satisfaction as well as financial satisfaction in having a high degree of energy independence. You won’t be tied solely to ever-increasing energy prices.
  7. Increase the value and marketability of your home
    A recent study from the University of California at Berkeley indicated that solar equipped homes in California sold for $17,000 more than comparable homes without solar. And a study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that solar homes sold 20% faster and for 17% more.
  8. Minimal maintenance
    Solar systems have no moving parts. Rain will usually wash off most of the dust. These systems just keep producing with little in the way of maintenance.
  9. Preserve our natural resources
    Our planet’s health is damaged every day as we search for and burn coal, natural gas and oil. Clean, sustainable solar power can ensure a brighter future for our descendants.
  10. Set a good example
    In a few years, solar will be everywhere. Right now the leaders and early adopters are crucial in setting a good example to show their friends and neighbors the way.