The Bright Side Of Going Solar

Why Should You Switch To Solar Power?

The adoption of renewable energy technologies such as solar power is growing rapidly in many countries. Solar panels are nothing new, with many people already using them extensively in residential applications to produce renewable energy in the United States. In fact, data shows that the use of solar energy is set to double by 2024. If you’re curious about going solar, this article will likely shed some light on reasons you might consider integrating solar energy technology into your life.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

A solar panel (Photovoltaic or PV) system converts solar energy directly from sunlight and can provide power for most applications. The more energy you use, the bigger your solar panel system will need to be. The amount of direct sunlight your residence is exposed to, the type of roofing you have, the efficiency rating of your panels, and the angle of each solar panel will affect how much energy your system generates.

How Is Solar Stored and Used?

Solar converted to electricity in your home can be used to power most appliances. If you want your solar panel to heat your water, you’ll need an electric hot water system. Excess electricity from your solar generation can be directed back into the grid, which will deliver you a feed-in payment. Another option is to store excess solar electricity in a rechargeable battery. The prices of these are steadily coming down as demand and production increase, and solar batteries can even provide backup power in the event of a blackout!

The main advantages and disadvantages of solar are discussed below, but first, we’ll discuss the most likely question on your mind:

How Much Does It Cost To Switch To Solar Energy?

A typical residential solar installation in the U.S. can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the supplier you choose. You can purchase a solar panel system upfront or lease one through a licensed distributor. Financing your solar through a home equity loan is also a good option. Most owners make their investment back within a few years, and the additional rebates and tax credits can make purchasing your solar panels much more competitive in the long run. These incentives could be a federal tax credit or something offered at a state and local level, and they can greatly reduce the upfront costs of going solar.

The cost of installing a solar power system in your home or business will depend on the company you use, and which of their equipment options you decide to adopt. Higher quality solar energy systems may cost more at the outset, but will have greater efficiency in converting solar energy and therefore yield higher long term monthly savings.

Wherever The Sunlight Touches

The state you are based in, whether it’s on the west coast in California or eastward in North Carolina, will affect the savings a solar power setup will afford you, not only due to different weather patterns but also how much you pay for electricity costs. Solar becomes more enticing when you go from paying 11¢ per kWh in North Carolina to 33¢ per kWh in Hawaii, no matter how much the sun hits your roof! Don’t forget to compare your energy prices to see how much you could save on your bill by switching providers, and look at converting to solar from there for even more savings.

Not All Panels Are Created Equal

Of all solar panel shipments to the residential sector in the U.S., about 95% are made from crystalline silicon. There are many forms of this material, but the main thing you need to know is that the efficiency of a system depends on the purity of the silicon used. What does this mean for you? Mainly that the best way to find out what type of solar setup will be the best for your space and budget considerations, will be to have your residence evaluated by a licensed expert. This service will most likely be offered as part of a complimentary quote by an established solar provider.

Monitoring and Maintenance

You can monitor your solar production and use it through an inverter; there are several types of these that usually come with a home system. Through a desktop or device app, you can check your solar generation and consumption, and observe the healthy functioning of the system. Solar panels typically need to be cleaned occasionally to maintain optimal efficiency. If any components get damaged, a typical product warranty is 10 years, with a performance warranty usually at 25 years.

What Are The Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy?

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, making the decision to go solar requires a lot of time and consideration. It’s important to have as much upfront information as possible and to compare as many options as you can. So what are some of the main benefits (and concerns) of people who are looking at going with a solar energy system?

Environmental Benefits

Becoming self-sufficient with clean energy such as solar is important to people who care about the environment and how energy is produced. Solar power is the cleanest and most abundant source of energy available. Every solar panel reduces your carbon footprint. The average solar system offsets thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Generating your own solar power also decreases dependence on foreign energy imports and electricity reliant on fossil fuels. Utilizing solar in your home reduces air and climatic pollution, and maintains the environment for you and for future generations. Each residence and business who invests in this technology benefits society as a whole, and increases the feeling of trust and goodwill in the community.

Financial Savings

Going solar will help you save money in the long term, allowing you to buy less energy from the grid, lower your energy bills, and even sell your own produced energy. One look at your last electricity bill and you might agree that saving (and even making) some money with solar sounds good! A typical residential solar system can save homeowners hundreds of dollars each quarter. This is bolstered by the added benefit of solar panels helping to insulate your roof, saving more energy required to cool your home in summer.

A solar system can also help protect you against any increases in energy costs in the future. With energy rates increasing five to ten percent every year, your solar panels will lead to substantial savings over the life of the system. The younger your household, the longer the potential to enjoy the payback on the investment! Speaking of…

Investment Cost

Although installing solar panels can require a considerable upfront cost, the reduction in long term household energy costs is significant. Thanks to lower production costs and government subsidies, the installation cost has dropped remarkably over the last two decades. An important tip is to shop around, as many of the larger system installers can be thousands of dollars more expensive than smaller solar businesses.

An added benefit that will provide a return on your investment down the road is the increase in the value of a property with solar panels already installed. Those for who the investment may not be the best option for now include those who are not planning to stay in their owned residence for the foreseeable future, or renters (unless they want to talk to their landlord about a shared lease option, which may save both parties on electricity bills in the future).

Lack of Information

Finding information to compare electric suppliers to others can be useful in helping you decide whether to go solar. With so many solar providers out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so take your time and do your research! It’s best to list the solar systems you like and compare quotes to find the right fit for you. The uptake of solar has increased exponentially over the last decade. This means that there is a myriad of information out there for you to research so that you can make the most informed decision possible.

Another tip is to talk to family, friends, neighbours, or colleagues who may have already made the leap to using solar. They may have some useful tips for you regarding providers, installation, saving tips, or even unforeseen benefits since they have been utilizing the technology.

The Future of Solar Is Bright

Solar energy is still far from reaching its potential, and the solar market continues to expand. Make sure your decision to go solar is well researched and informed. Although this article is mainly exploring residential rooftop solar, other applications out there include solar-powered cars (via battery), personal devices like smartphones and tablets, wearable technologies such as smartwatches, and street and outdoor lighting. With the technology evolving so rapidly, we’re excited to see what new horizons solar will reach in the future.

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