How Solar Panels Work

A solar panel system is made up of three basic parts: solar panels, an inverter and a solar gateway. Solar panels capture the sunlight hitting your roof and convert it into electricity. A solar inverter connected to your solar panels converts this electricity into the clean energy that can power the lights and appliances in your home. The solar energy powering your home decreases the amount of energy you need to draw from the grid, lowering your electricity bill. Your solar gateway captures your system’s information and allows you to monitor your energy production through the Tesla app.

How does my home get power at night?

We connect your solar system to your home’s electric panel, similar to other circuits in your house. At night, the solar system will turn off and your home will be powered by the electric grid. During this time, your electric utility’s meter will record how much energy your home is using, as it does today.

Alternatively, you can use Powerwall to store the excess solar your home generates and use this energy at night, which would enable you to achieve a self-powered home.

Where does the solar power go if I don’t use it all?

When the sun is shining, the power that is generated by the solar system on your roof will flow into your home’s electric panel. As your system generates more power than your home can ​immediately consume, your electric meter will reflect as such. Some utility meters will stand still, while bidirectional meters will spin backwards when solar energy is powering your home. Your electric bill will show zero usage during that time. During a sunny summer day, your solar panels may produce more power than your home needs. At that time, your solar system will be fully powering your home and all the excess power will flow backward through your electric meter, where it will be consumed by other houses and businesses connected to the grid. Learn more about credits for excess solar.

The Tesla Ecosystem

Your solar system will use the energy it collects to power all the electrical loads in your home, including EV chargers. The amount of energy needed to charge your car each day will depend on your driving habits. For Tesla vehicles under normal conditions, you can drive 3 to 4 miles per kWh of energy.

By combining all of Tesla’s energy products, you can generate, store and consume renewable energy with a self-powered home and drive on sunshine. This energy independence will make the electric grid cleaner, more reliable and accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.