If you're interested in an excellent Solar PV overview Michael Bluejay has it covered pretty well here: http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/solar.html
My only recommendation (which I am going to email him) is to add PVWatts.org to his site!
During my brief career of technical sales I have realized how difficult it can be to explain systems in words as opposed to diagrams. The old adage that a picture is worth a 1000 words is true, especially when it comes to systems that include electricity (solar PV or Wind power) or plumbing (solar thermal or geothermal).
Solar Thermal (ST) water heating is a great way to take advantage of free energy from the Sun. Before we go in-depth on how solar thermal water heating works, let's go over the bare essentials.
1) Solar Thermal water heating is different from Solar PV (electricity)
2) Solar Thermal water heating is different than Solar Thermal power generation.
Our first night in Jackson, WY had us staying at the amazing Amangani Resort. The Amangani was constructed to blend in to the natural habitat and look as if it is part of the mountain. The builders did a very good job achieving that! By building the resort into the hill it is able to achieve considerable savings in its heating bills by relying on the hill for thermal mass. All the rooms face West, which provides the residents with amazing sunset views, but also prov