If you’re considering outfitting your home with solar panels, you’re not alone. An increasing number of American homeowners are going solar and for good reason. Solar panels can provide various benefits, from reducing your carbon footprint to saving you money on your energy bills. If you’re needing a guide to going solar, read on!
What We’ll Cover
Of course, solar panels are a significant investment, so you’ll want to do your research before deciding to go solar. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about solar panels, from how they work to the different types available. We’ll also discuss the benefits and the first steps you can take in your journey to going solar. By the end of this post, you should have a good idea of whether solar panels are right for you.
What are Solar Panels and How Do They Work?
Solar panels are devices that convert light into electricity. They are made up of a series of interconnected photovoltaic (PV) cells that absorb sunlight and generate direct current (DC) electricity. You’ve probably seen them more recently installed on the roofs of homes.
They are made of a material called silicon, which is a semiconductor. When sunlight hits the silicon, it causes the electrons in the silicon to move around, creating an electrical current. Depending on the type of solar panels you use and how much power you need, your panels will have different amounts of loads. For reference, loads refer to the amount of power that a solar panel can consume under optimal conditions. The loads on a solar panel are the sunlight and heat that the panel is exposed to.
What are the Different Types of Solar Systems You Can Get for your Home?
There are three main types of solar systems you can install for your home. They include grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid. Grid-tied systems are connected to the utility grid and allow you to sell excess energy back to the grid. Off-grid systems are not connected to the grid and require batteries to store excess energy. Hybrid systems are connected to the grid but also have batteries to store excess energy.
Grid-tied Solar System:
With this system, your solar panels will be connected to the power grid. This means that when your solar panels produce electricity, they will go into the power grid and you will be credited for the electricity that you have generated. This type of system is beneficial because it allows homeowner to offset their energy usage and save money on their electricity bill.
Grid-tied solar systems offer many benefits over other types of solar systems, including:
- Increased Efficiency – Grid-tied solar systems can take advantage of the grid’s infrastructure to increase their overall efficiency.
- Reduced Maintenance Costs – Grid-tied solar systems do not require batteries or other maintenance-intensive components, which can significantly reduce their overall maintenance costs.
- Increased Flexibility – Grid-tied solar systems can be easily expanded or modified as your energy needs change, making them much more flexible than other types of solar systems.
- Lower Environmental Impact – Grid-tied solar systems generate clean, renewable energy that has a much lower environmental impact than energy generated by traditional power sources.
There are some drawbacks to using a grid-tied solar system. Due to their low cost, grid-tied solar systems accounted for the majority of solar systems installed on homes up until recently. Because they are so inexpensive, they have the quickest payoff. These systems do not, however, provide backup power when the electrical grid goes down because they turn off when that happens. So, even though they are the least expensive option, you risk being out of power if the grid goes down.
Off-grid Solar System:
With this system, your solar panels will not be connected to the power grid. This means that you will need to have batteries to store the electricity that your solar panels generate.
There are some advantages of using an off-grid solar system such as:
- An off-grid solar system can provide power in remote locations where the utility grid is unavailable.
- Provide power during a power outage.
- Supply power for specific loads that need to be isolated from the utility grid.
- It can provide power for loads that are too expensive to connect to the utility grid.
- It can provide power for loads that require a higher level of security than the utility grid can provide.
There are a few drawbacks to using an off-grid solar system. For example:
- The initial cost of an off-grid solar system is typically higher than a grid-tied system so most people do not elect to use this system unless they live remotely.
- Off-grid systems are also more complex and require more maintenance than grid-tied systems.
- Battery backup systems add cost and require regular maintenance.
- Without a grid connection, an off-grid solar system is not able to take advantage of net metering policies.
Hybrid Solar System
With this system, your solar panels will be connected to the power grid, but you will also have batteries to store the electricity that your solar panels generate.
A hybrid solar system is a solar power system that uses a combination of photovoltaic panels and thermal collectors. The photovoltaic panels generate electricity, while the thermal collectors are used to heat water or air. The two types of solar panels are usually mounted on the same frame, and the electricity generated by the photovoltaic cells is used to power the solar thermal collectors.
There are several advantages to using a hybrid solar system. Advantages include:
- Increased Efficiency – Hybrid solar panel systems are more efficient than traditional solar panel systems because they can capture both the sun’s heat and light.
- Reduced Cost – Hybrid solar panel systems are less expensive to install and maintain than traditional solar panel systems.
- Increased Reliability – Hybrid solar panel systems are more reliable than traditional solar panel systems because they are not as susceptible to weather conditions.
- There are some cons to using a hybrid solar system model for your home. This includes:
- Limited Availability – Hybrid solar panel systems are not widely available and are only manufactured by a few companies.
- Limited Warranty – Hybrid solar panel systems usually come with a shorter warranty than traditional solar panel systems.
- Requires More Maintenance – Hybrid solar panel systems require more maintenance than traditional solar panel systems because they have more parts.
What are Solar Batteries?
Solar batteries are a type of battery that uses solar energy to convert sunlight into electrical energy. Solar batteries are made up of a solar panel, a solar converter, and a storage device. They are made of a variety of materials, including lead acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride, and lithium-ion.
Although the batteries vary in cost, lead acid batteries are the most affordable on the market while lithium-ion is the most expensive. Generally speaking, however, solar batteries can typically cost anywhere between $100 and $200. Solar batteries are not required for all solar energy systems, but they can be used to increase the efficiency of the system and provide backup power in the event of a power outage. Solar batteries are typically warranted for 10 years or more, making them a worthwhile, long-term investment.
So now that you understand what solar panels are and how they work, you might be curious about the installation process. Home solar panels can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to install. It will all depend on the type of panels you choose and the size of your home. The installation process typically includes a site visit to assess your home’s solar potential, followed by the installation of the solar panels and associated equipment.
How Solar Panels are Set Up Step by Step
1. Solar panels are installed on the roof of a house or building.
2. The panels are mounted on a frame that is attached to the roof.
3. The panels are connected to the electrical system of the house or building.
4. The solar panels are connected to an inverter.
5. The inverter converts the DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity.
6. The AC electricity is then sent to the electrical panel of the house or building.
7. The electrical panel distributes the AC electricity to the different circuits of the house or building.
Cost of Adding Solar Panels to your Home:
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the cost of adding solar panels to your home will vary depending on some factors, including the size and location of your home, the amount of sunlight it receives, the type and size of solar panels you choose, and the company you hire to install them. However, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, the average cost of installing a solar panel system is $3–$5 per watt, totaling $15,000–$20,000 for a typical 5 kW system.
The New Climate Bill – A Game Changer for Going Solar
In August of this year, the largest investment in climate action in US history was made with the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act by Joe Biden. It devotes almost $400 billion to fostering sustainable energy technology and preparing the United States for climate change. If everything goes according to plan, the act would reduce US emissions by 40% by 2030.
The bill will also include subsidies. With the subsidies, homeowners will pay less for energy-efficient home renovations like heat pumps, solar panels, and electric cars. If you don’t file taxes, you can claim the subsidies separately as a rebate. In some situations, you can claim the subsidies right away when you make a purchase. In other words, this act makes going solar more attainable for everyone.
How Do you Find the Right Solar Installer?
So, you’ve decided to go solar. Let the research begin! The best solar installer for your needs will depend on many factors, including your location, your budget, and your specific solar energy needs. However, there are a few tips that can help you find the right solar installer for your needs:
1. Start by doing some research online.
There are a number of resources available online that can help you learn about different solar installers in your area, including customer reviews and ratings. This research can help you narrow down your options and find a few solar installers in your area that seem like a good fit for your needs.
2. Schedule a consultation.
Once you’ve found some solar installers that you’re interested in working with, the next step is to schedule a consultation. This will allow you to meet with the solar installer, discuss your specific needs, and ask any questions you have. It’s also a good idea to get a quote during your consultation so that you can compare pricing and services.
3. Get references.
Before making your final decision, be sure to ask each solar installer for references. This will allow you to speak with other customers who have worked with the company.
Benefits of your Home Going Solar:
There are so many great benefits to going solar. In fact, the benefits are so good, it seems that the future of energy is solar! Even the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found in a study released on September 8, 2021, that ‘with aggressive cost reductions, supportive policies, and large-scale electrification, solar could account for as much as 40% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2035 and 45% by 2050’.
A Few Benefits of Going Solar are:
Can help you save money on your electric bill.
They can increase the value of your home.
Going solar can help you be more independent from the electric grid.
Produce your own clean, renewable energy.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, going solar is inevitable. Between the new climate bill and how accessible going solar is becoming, it is only a matter of time before businesses start catching on. It is estimated that by 2024, 2.5% of all homes in the U.S. will have solar installation. While that may not sound like a huge number to some, it’s a vast market to explore.
That also means that the solar sales industry is expected to grow as well for professionals in both inside and outside sales. For this reason, solar sales can be a very rewarding and lucrative career to pursue. You can feel good about the work you’re doing because not only will it help your customers reduce their carbon footprint but it can also help them save loads of money in the long run.