Pros And Cons Of Solar Panels For Your Home
Like most things, solar power has its benefits and drawbacks. At the same time, some economic costs may be defrayed by the social benefits to the environment and lowering your carbon footprint, which exceeds pure monetary evaluation.
Green energy that lowers your carbon footprint
Net metering allows you to sell back excess energy produced
You may be eligible for certain tax breaks
Installation and maintenance costs still high
Solar only works when the sun is out
Parts of the system need to be replaced every few years
Some tax breaks may have expired or will be expiring
Where Does The Energy Go
When you have a solar battery installed as part of the solar energy system for your house, you may wonder where the electricity goes when your solar panels produce it. Does it go to the battery, the grid, or to your home? We understand that it can definitely be confusing, so lets break it down a bit.
What Is A Solar Battery + Off
Weve talked from time to time about solar battery banks and the advantages that they bring. But how do they work, and when are they utilized? As solar experts, we do our best to advise on the best practice for your solar energy system, but at the end of the day, whether or not you choose to install a solar battery bank is up to you. There is one case in which youll want to be sure to get a solar battery bank, and thats with off-grid solar systems.
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Can Solar Power Be Generated On A Cloudy Day
Yes, it can. The UK may not seem the best country for generating energy from the sun, but solar power only requires some level of daylight in order to harness the suns energy. That said, the rate at which solar panels generate electricity does vary depending on the amount of direct sunlight and the quality, size, number and location of panels in use.
A Short History Of Solar Panels
The development of solar energy goes back more than 100 years. In the early days, solar energy was used primarily for the production of steam which could then be used to drive machinery. But it wasn’t until the discovery of the “” by Edmond Becquerel that would allow the conversion of sunlight solar electric energy. Becquerel’s discovery then led to the invention in 1893 by Charles Fritts of the first genuine solar cell which was formed by coating sheets of selenium with a thin layer of gold. And from this humble beginning would arise the device we know today as the solar panel.
Russel Ohl, an American inventor on the payroll of Bell Laboratories, patented the world’s first silicon solar cell in 1941. Ohl’s invention led to the production of the first solar panel in 1954 by the same company. Solar panels found their first mainstream use in space satellites. For most people, the first solar panel in their life was probably embedded in their new calculator – circa the 1970s!
Today, solar panels and complete solar panel systems are used to power a wide variety of applications. Yes, solar panels in the form of solar cells are still being used in calculators. However, they are also being used to provide solar power to entire homes and commercial buildings, such as Google’s headquarters in California.
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Solar Power For The Home: Benefits
A significant benefit to PV installation is a lower energy bill, but the magnitude of this benefit depends on the amount of solar energy that can be produced given the available conditions and the way in which utilities charge for electricity.
The first consideration is the solar irradiation levels available in the home’s geographical location. When it comes to using solar panels, being closer to the equator is generally better, but other factors must be considered. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produces maps for the U.S. showing solar irradiation levels the tools on its website provide detailed solar information for specific locations within the U.S.
Similar maps and data are available in other countries as well, often from government environmental agencies or renewable energy organizations. Equally important is the home’s orientation for rooftop arrays, a south-facing roof without trees or other objects obstructing sunlight maximizes the available solar energy. If this is not available, panels can be mounted on external supports and installed away from the house, incurring additional costs for the extra hardware and cables.
The final benefit is the potential effect on a home’s value due to the addition of a solar array. In general, it is reasonable to assume that solar panels would raise the value of most homes.
Solar Power For The Home: Costs
Solar power is capital intensive, and the main cost of owning a system comes upfront when buying the equipment. The solar module will almost certainly represent the largest single component of the overall expense.
Other equipment necessary for installation includes an inverter , metering equipment , and various housing components along with cables and wiring gear.
Some homeowners also consider battery storage. Historically, batteries have been prohibitively expensive and unnecessary if the utility pays for excess electricity that is fed into the grid . The installation labor cost must also be factored in.
In addition to installation costs, there are some further costs associated with operating and maintaining a PV solar array. Aside from cleaning the panels regularly, inverters and batteries generally need replacement after several years of use.
While the above costs are relatively straightforwardoften a solar installation company can quote a price for these for a homeownerdetermining subsidies available from the government and/or your local utility can prove more of a challenge. Government incentives change often, but historically, the U.S. government has allowed a tax credit of up to 30% of the system’s cost.
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How Much Electricity Can Be Stored In A Battery Bank
A common question that homeowners will ask is how much electricity they can plan on being able to store in their battery banks. This will almost always depend on how many batteries or how large of a solar system youll choose to have on your home. If you install a bunch of batteries without enough solar panels to power your home and fill the batteries, then it wont be worth it to purchase the batteries in the first place.
One of the best batteries on the market today is the Enphase systems. Sun Badger is a certified Enphase installer, and we tell our customers that they can expect to store up to 10 kilowatt-hours in the Encharge 10. Because there are different ways to monitor the battery health, use of power, and more, that battery power will likely be able to power your home for a day or more. If you feel like you want even more battery power storage, you can install a second or third battery pack to double or triple your home battery capacity.
If youd like to learn more about installing an Enphase battery system or a solar energy system and battery pack to your home, contact us today. Our solar experts are knowledgeable and ready to answer any questions that you might have about your future solar energy system.
How Does Weather Affect Solar Energy
Weather conditions can impact the amount of electricity a solar system produces, but not exactly in the way you might think.
Perfect conditions for producing solar energy include a clear sunny day, of course. But like most electronics, solar panels are actually more efficient in cold weather than warm weather. This allows the panel to produce more electricity in the same amount of time. As the temperature rises, the panel generates less voltage and produces less electricity.
But even though solar panels are more efficient in cold weather, they don’t necessarily produce more electricity in the winter than in summer. Sunnier weather often occurs in the warmer summer months. In addition to fewer clouds, the sun is usually out for more of the day. So even though your panels may be less efficient in warm weather, they’ll still likely produce more electricity in summer than in winter.
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Step : A Net Meter Measures Usage
On cloudy days and overnight, your solar shingles or panels may not be able to capture enough sunlight to use for energy conversely, in the middle of the day when nobody is home, they may collect surplus energymore than you need to operate your home. Thats why a meter is used to measure the electricity flowing in both directionsto and from your home.Your utility company will often provide credits for any surplus power you send back to the grid. This is known as net metering.
How Much Energy Does A Solar Panel Produce
For the sake of example, if you are getting 5 hours of direct sunlight per day in a sunny state like California you can calculate your solar panel output this way: 5 hours x 290 watts = 1,450 watts-hours, or roughly 1.5 kilowatt-hours . Thus, the output for each solar panel in your array would produce around 500-550 kWh of energy per year.
All solar panels are rated by the amount of DC power they produce under standard test conditions. Solar panel output is expressed in units of watts and represents the panels theoretical power production under ideal sunlight and temperature conditions. Most home solar panels on the market today have power output ratings ranging from 250 to 400 watts, with higher power ratings generally considered preferable to lower power ratings. Pricing in solar is typically measured in dollars per watt , and your total solar panel wattage plays a significant part in the overall cost of your solar system.
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Frequently Asked Questions Related To How Solar Panels Work
Learning more about how solar panels work can be confusing at times, which is why making it simple and digestible is key. Now that you know more about how solar panels generate electricity and the science behind it, check out a few other questions that homeowners commonly ask:
What are the two main disadvantages to solar energy?
The two main disadvantages of solar energy are its high upfront costs and intermittency. While investing in renewable energy pays off in the long run, this technology is typically more expensive than traditional energy generators when it comes to installation. Luckily, there are financial incentives, such as tax credits and rebates, available to help alleviate the initial burden. Additionally, intermittency can be an issue renewable energy resources arent available 24/7, year-round. For instance, solar panels produce less electricity at night and on overcast days. There may be unpredictable weather patterns that impact the efficiency of solar panels, but you can consider battery options as a backup. Read this article to see if you should get storage.
Can you run your whole house on solar power? Do you still have an electric bill with solar panels?
Does Solar Make Sense For Me
Not only is solar power good for the environment, but you can earn money selling back excess power to the grid. While costs have come down over the past years, installation and maintenance of solar panels can be quite costly. Solar panels are best-suited for homes that receive ample sun exposure throughout the year.
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Is Solar Power A Clean Energy Source
Yes, solar power is a renewable and infinite energy source as long as the sun continues to shine, energy will be released.
Another clean energy positive for solar power is that, unlike the burning of fossil fuels, the conversion of sunlight into power creates no harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
The carbon footprint of solar panels is already quite small, as they last for 25 years plus with no loss in efficiency. And the materials used in the panels are increasingly recycled, so the carbon footprint will continue to shrink.
More About The Photovoltaic Effect
Lets dig into the photovoltaic effect a little deeper. The photovoltaic effect simply describes the property by which these materials can generate electricity any time they are exposed to sunlight.
Heres a step-by-step summary of how solar panels work via the photovoltaic effect:
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Solar Power Is A Renewable Energy Source
Not only do you cut down on your electric bill when you go solar, but you also reduce your carbon footprint. Solar panels dont release any of the nasty carbon emissions or other air pollutants that fossil fuels do when they generate electricity.
The average residential solar power system in the U.S can prevent almost 16,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. You would need to plant 8.8 acres of forest to offset that amount of carbon, but a rooftop solar energy system puts a stop to those emissions entirely.
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Were not going to lie to you: some emissions are involved in manufacturing solar modules and other solar technology, just like every other manufactured product on the planet. The emissions associated with manufacturing solar panels are almost negligible when its compared to how much is released generating electricity with fossil fuels.
But the actual solar electricity itself is clean energy. There are absolutely no emissions released when a solar panel produces electricity. Fossil fuel plants, on the other hand, continue to burn and release greenhouse gasses with each kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce.
How To Switch To Solar Energy
If you like the benefits that solar panels offer, want to give back to the planet by lowering your carbon footprint, and save money on electricity, you can switch to solar in no time. The process of switching from conventional electricity to solar panels for your home is quite simple. The easiest way to go about it is to find a solar provider that you want to partner with.
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The Path Of Current With A Battery Bank
Not every electric company will provide fair net metering practices, and in some cases, its not worth it to a homeowner when they send electricity back to the grid. In this scenario, the best thing a homeowner can do to ensure that they save the maximum amount of money is to install a battery bank.
When a battery bank is installed as part of your home, the AC current will flow to your electric panel on your home and then will do one of three things. If your home is calling for electricity , some of the current will flow to power that. Any surplus of electricity that your home doesnt need will first go to the battery in order to ensure its fully charged. How charged your battery is will be determined by how much electricity your home uses after the sun goes down. When your battery bank is fully charged, any excess electricity will go back to the grid for net metering.
With a battery bank system installed as part of your solar energy system, youll be able to ensure that youre saving the maximum amount of money and getting the most bang for your buck.
The Future Of Solar Power Is Bright
The solar industry is stronger than its ever been before. Solar energy technologies continue to improve and solar prices keep falling, making solar more accessible than ever to U.S. homeowners.
We dont foresee these trends changing course any time soon.
For one thing, the Biden Administration has put quite an emphasis on climate change resilience and clean infrastructure including a carbon-free grid by 2035. In order to meet these goals, its possible more solar incentives may start popping up, and maybe the solar investment tax credit will get extended yet again.
There is one major dark spot lurking in the shadows of the solar industry to keep in mind – utilities across the country have been pushing to eliminate net metering, which is one of the main reasons why solar is such a worthwhile investment. If you want to ensure you get the highest solar savings possible, youll want to go solar sooner rather than later.
Our free solar panel calculator makes it incredibly easy for you to get familiar with solar power before you make your final decision. We tell you what kind of savings you can get with a PV system, what incentives are in your area, and you can customize the estimate directly to your needs. Then, we can pair you with the best solar companies in your area, so you can compare quotes and get the best quality solar project.
Interested in lowering your power bill? Find out if solar panels are right for you
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How Can Solar Energy Potentially Save Me Money
Now weve come to the big question. How much can solar energy save you? And the simple answer is that it depends on you and your energy needs. The amount of savings you get from solar power varies depending on a myriad of different things, including: the size of your house, the number of people living in your house, the amount of electricity you consume as a household each month, the size of your solar energy system, the amount of exposure that your solar energy system gets to direct sunlight, the incentives available in your area, the type of solar agreement you sign, and your local county/utility company requirements can all affect how much your solar energy system may potentially save you.
The good news is that we can help. With your permission, our solar energy experts will go through your home and take measurements of your roof, its tilt, your attic the size of your home, and a bunch of other things that help them determine if your home is a good fit for solar. Theyll also talk to you about the different solar plans we offer and help you determine the type of plan available to you that will suit your needs and the plan thats available to you based on your area. Our plans range from a Solar Cash Agreement where you buy solar panels outright to a Solar Loan Agreement where you could take out a loan to pay for them. You could also pay for the power your system produces with a Solar PPA or lease the equipment through a Solar Lease.