There are three main components to a solar system: panels, inverters and meters.
Solar panels contain solar cells. Solar cells, sometimes called photovoltaic cells, convert the energy of the sun into electricity. Most solar cells are made of some form of silicon. Panels also contain metal conductor strips and antireflective coating. Wiring and hardware to attach panels to the roof are also part of your entire solar system.
Solar panels generate Direct Current (DC). But almost everything you use in your house – TV, computer, refrigerator and such – runs on Alternating Current (AC). That’s why solar systems require an inverter. Inverters convert DC power generated by solar panels into AC power that fuels your house. Excess AC energy is fed back into your local utility grid.
Solar systems utilize two types of meters. Your solar power company will provide a solar meter to collect and upload your system’s production data. Your utility company will provide a net meter to measure both the energy you consume and send back to the electric grid. This give-and-take relationship between your solar system and the utility grid is called net metering.