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Solar Electric or Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

A solar system can significantly reduce the electricity you need to purchase from your utility company. The cost of solar modules have come down dramatically over the past 2 years, so systems are now affordable, even without state incentives. They provide a great investment for home owners, farms and businesses. And because energy from the sun is free, the cost of power from a solar system is fixed for its life, unlike the power you buy from your utility which continues to cost more and more each year.

Just as important, power from a solar system emits no pollutants. So you are helping to clean up the air and provide a healthier environment for you, your children and your community. Installing a solar system on your property lowers your carbon footprint reducing the major greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

You are also helping to reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy and improve our security, while supporting green jobs in your community and at component suppliers across the USA.


  • Reduces your utility bills with clean, sustainable power
  • Locks in the price of this electricity with free energy from the sun
  • Reliable technologies enable use of solar power by more homes and businesses
  • Lowers your carbon footprint and environmental impact of your operation
  • Government incentives are available to significantly reduce system costs
  • Financing is available to match cash flow with energy savings

How It Works

Producing electricity from the sun is not a new technology. The photovoltaic effect was discovered by French physicist, Edmond Becquerel in 1839 and introduced for modern use by Bell Labs in the 1950s. Today producing solar electric is easier and more affordable than ever.

A solar electric system consists of solar modules (panels) which contain solar cells. A protective covering of glass or a polymer protects the solar cells from the elements. Most manufacturers also surround their solar cells with metal frames. Racking secures the solar panels to the roof or provide a ground supporting structure. Solar panels produce direct current electricity (DC) through a process known as the photovoltaic (or PV) effect. “Photo” means light and “voltaic” means electricity. An inverter transforms the high voltage DC to alternating current (AC) and feeds it directly to the building’s load center. In a centralized inverter system, wire is run from the modules to a central inverter. In a system with micro-inverters, the DC solar panel output is converted to AC by a small inverter attached to the back of each solar panel.

With Net Metering, any excess power that is generated is fed back onto the local power grid, causing your electric meter to turn slower or even run backwards! You will automatically be provided credit for this surplus by your utility company. At night and on overcast days, you’ll draw on utility company power just like you do now. A number of grid-interactive backup options are available using battery banks.

Grid Tied

Grid Interactive
w/ Battery Back-up

Off Grid

  • Power generated from solar array offsets utility electricity consumption
  • No batteries, no back-up power
  • Most efficient and lowest cost type of system
  • Solar power offsets regular electricity consumption
  • Batteries store power for limited back-up
  • Most versatile system
  • Remote, independent applications
  • Solar array charges a battery bank & powers appliances
  • Wind turbine or a generator often provides supplemental power

Grid-Tied systems feed power directly to the building’s existing electrical load center. Since the building remains tied to the utility grid, these system don't require a bank of batteries. Grid-Tied solar systems can only produce power when the utility grid is up and operating. They automatically shut off if the utility grid goes down, so they provide no back-up power, even if the sun is shining. If back-up is critical during power outage, a Grid-Interactive system with battery back-up (also called a Grid-Hybrid system) divert some energy to keep a battery bank charged, and feed both the existing electrical breaker panel, as well as, a sub-panel for critical loads. When the grid goes down, connection is automatically broken with the main panel and the grid, then power is provided by the solar system and the battery bank to the critical loads.

Grid-Tied and Grid-Interactive systems benefit from Net Metering, where excess energy created by renewable energy sources is sent back to the utility for credit. This option is available to all customers in Ohio who are located in territory served by the investor owned utilities American Electric Power (AEP), Duke Energy (Cinergy), FirstEnergy, and Dayton Power & Light. Net Metering is also available from many Ohio municipal and rural co-op utility companies. Net Metering is available in most other states, however, the rules governing net metering are set by each state and so are not consistent across states.

To learn more about how these Solar Photovoltaic systems work read this article provided courtesy of Home Power magazine: Solar Electric Basics (1.2MB pdf file)

Visit our Live Solar Site Production Information page to see live and historical energy production information for a number of Dovetail installed solar electric systems.

A residential wind turbine is often added to create a wind/solar hybrid system for consistent year round production. Wind picks up during winter months while solar shines best during summer months.

Check out our pricing for Solar PV systems

Click here for information about Renewable Energy Investments and Incentives

See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section for more information. Or see Get Started to understand the next step. Also feel free to call or , if you have other questions.

Getting Started

To begin to scope out and define your renewable energy system, simply contact one of our offices (Contact Us) or send an email to: .

We would be happy to review with you your energy usage, site characteristics, project scope and typical system costs. We are here to answer your questions or address any concerns you may have. It helps to have available a copy of your current electric bill when you call so that we can determine your current energy usage.

Sizing a System

Solar power systems are modular, flexible, and scalable. Therefore, we can size a system in one of three ways: based on your energy production goals (percentage of electricity to supply), your available roof space, or your budget. It takes about 1 square foot of space per 9 to 12 watts. So a 3,000 watt residential system would require approximately 300 sq ft of roof space. Each 1,000 watts or 1kW of solar will produce approximately 100 kWh per month on average in the Ohio region.

If you want an off-grid system or a grid-interactive system that provides uninterrupted power during a grid failure, you will need a bank of batteries. Battery banks are a major sizing concern during the system design stage. Systems with battery back up are usually sized to run specific “critical loads” (such as a well pump, lights, blower fan and a refrigerator) for a certain amount of time. This is typically 3 to 5 days. When the battery bank size has been agreed upon, we size the solar array to ensure the batteries will be charged in a full day’s sun. If you also have a back-up generator, we can factor that into the system design. With Dovetail's many years of experience and a large set of components and options, we can design a solar system that is right for you.

Installing a System


Matt Bennett
Jeff Bintz
David Leahy
Gabe Schnabel
Daniel Young

Dovetail is committed to professional system designs and installations that comply with all applicable codes. We are proud to have a number of nationally certified installers working for us. Matt Bennett, Jeff Bintz, David Leahy, Gabe Schnabel, and Daniel Young are all NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installers™. We have additional employees that have earned the NABCEP Entry Level Certificate™. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practioners (NABCEP) is the national certification organization for professional installers in the field of renewable energy. NABCEP certifies individuals, not companies so Dovetail is not implying any endorsement or certification of our firm by NABCEP.

Dovetail has partnered with a major regional bank to provide a Residential Solar Financing Program to enable homeowners to acquire a system with no down payment and a very low interest rate. Contact Us for details.

See Get Started for the next step in evaluating a solar system at your location.

See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section for more information. Also feel free to call or , if you have other questions or concerns.

Check out this link for why Dovetail often recommends SolarWorld modules for our customer projects.

Dovetail can also provide technical assistance for "do it yourself " installations performed by a sufficiently skilled homeowner.


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