Solar panels have seen a surge in popularity among homeowners in recent years. Increasing electricity costs make solar energy systems more appealing.
There are over 2 million homes using solar energy in the United States. If you’re a homeowner looking to join the solar movement, you’ve come to the right place. Our handy guide breaks down all the information you’ll need to get you started, including how panels work, how much they cost, their benefits, and the installation process.
So if you’re ready to enjoy a new sustainable and renewable source of power, we’ve got you covered.
Residential Solar Panels
What Is A Solar Panel?
Solar panels, also known as PV (photovoltaic) panels, convert sunlight into electricity that’s then utilized to power electrical loads.
Solar electric systems can be used for a variety of purposes, including power systems for remote cabins, communication equipment, remote sensing, and, of course, electricity generation for commercial and residential properties.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels gather and convert pure renewable energy in the form of sunlight into electricity. This can then be used to power electrical loads. This process is known as the Photovoltaic Effect, which was discovered by Einstein, earning him a Nobel Prize in physics.
Solar panels are made up of several solar cells, each of which is made up of layers of silicon, phosphorus, and boron. Photons are absorbed by the solar panels, which allow an electric current to flow.
The energy released when photons make contact with the solar panel's surface causes electrons to be released into the electric circuit connected to the solar generator. These free electrons are then pulled into a directed current.
Generally, a normal home will have enough roof space to accommodate the number of solar panels required to meet the home's energy needs. If your system includes solar batteries, any surplus electricity that is not used is fed into the main power system and can be used in the evenings when the sun goes down.
How Does Using Solar Panels Benefit Your Home?
The most significant advantage of using solar energy is that it’s both a clean and renewable source of electricity. With the worsening of global climate change thanks to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, it’s more important now than ever to do everything we can to lessen the strain on our atmosphere caused by greenhouse gasses.
Another advantage is how simple solar panels are to maintain because they have no moving parts. The best solar panels are built to last and can survive for decades with proper routine maintenance. In fact, you can count on dependable electricity for at least 25 years, if not longer.
They are also great for off-the-grid living and for unexpected power outages. Similarly, with a hybrid system that includes an inverter and deep-cycle batteries, you’ll be able to store solar energy for use at night or for when you experience a power failure.
By using solar energy, you can guarantee that your energy expenses will decrease. This is because you’ll be able to fulfill some of your energy needs with the electricity your system generates. The amount of money you save will have a direct link to the size of your solar energy system and the amount of power or heat you typically use in your home.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
While there are a ton of great benefits to adding solar panels to your home. The only potential downside that stops many people from making the leap is financing your solar energy system.
Solar panels are a big initial investment but they’ll save you money in the long run.
With the cost of electricity rising as the fuel used to generate it becomes more expensive, solar energy has become a more appealing option for many homeowners and has resulted in a surge of popularity in solar energy systems.
On average, homeowners pay between around $13,000 up to around $25,000 or more to install a solar power system in their homes. This figure covers most solar systems and installations, but prices may differ depending on the system you have chosen or the cost of labor for the installation.
Although costs largely depend on where you live, it’s important to note that the average cost per watt is under $3, regardless of what state you’re in.
Before you pay for your solar energy system, you may want to consider whether the cost of solar panels is worth the money you will save to warrant your investment.
Are Solar Panels Right For You?
If you’re asking yourself “Are solar panels worth the investment?” there are a few factors you may want to consider.
Firstly, you’ll want to evaluate your average monthly power usage and decide if there are ways of reducing it. Reducing your usage can be as easy as switching to energy-saving lightbulbs or using more efficient appliances or electronics.
Next, you’ll want to assess whether or not your home has good solar potential or not. The total amount of energy a solar energy system generates at a given location is determined by how much of the sun's energy reaches it and the system's size.
You'll need to engage with a solar contractor who can accurately assess your solar potential and provide specific recommendations, estimates, and equipment knowledge to help you decide on what system would work best for your home.
If you live in a region with high energy costs and an adequate solar rating, and you can afford the initial expenditure, it's worth installing solar panels in your home. However, you shouldn’t expect to be able to completely reduce your power bill overnight.
If you decide to get solar panels, make sure to do your research and look for incentives. It’s important to note that you don’t necessarily have to purchase your solar panels. You can lease them, too, to reduce your initial setup cost. But, if you choose to lease the panels, you won’t be able to add any value to your property.
So, if you’ve decided that you want to move forward with a solar energy system, it’s time to make the call to your local solar energy engineer.
Installing Solar Panels For Your Home
While it is possible to install solar panels yourself, it may not be the best decision. Without the proper knowledge, there is a potential for safety hazards. While it may save you some money on labor costs, you should make sure you’re able to install them properly.
If you choose to install them yourself, you’ll have to handle permits and planning on your own. It may also void any warranties on the equipment. So be sure that you’re able to handle a DIY installation before choosing this route.
But, if you have the know-how, you can save yourself some money and you can purchase DIY solar panel kits online that will get you started on your journey to clean, renewable energy in your home.
If you’re unsure of how to install the best solar panel setup, you may want to hire a professional. That way, the installation process is easy and hassle-free.
How The Installation Process Works
Firstly, you need to purchase your equipment. The panels and inverters are the two most significant components of any residential solar power system. Your installer will almost certainly recommend both, but most people find that understanding how they function makes it easier to know what to look for in solar panels.
You may also consider hiring a professional to review your system before buying it. This will help you to make sure you’re choosing the best setup for your home’s needs.
Meeting an engineer at your home after signing a contract is the first sign of progress in your solar panel installation. They'll make sure your roof can sustain the weight of the solar panels and inspect your circuit breaker or electrical panel.
After meeting with a qualified professional, it's time to start filling out paperwork. This will happen when the engineer verifies that your home is able to handle your chosen solar panel equipment and installation.
The actual installation of solar panels should only take a few days. Generally, you should be able to use your solar energy system after 2 days. After the initial visit with your engineer, the electrical wiring that connects the panels to your power system is set up.
The panels are then mounted on top of the racking, which is linked to the supports that are connected to your roof. Finally, the panels are connected to inverters and control circuits, which turn the solar output into useful electricity.
The last steps involve a check from one of your local government representatives to make sure the installation was done correctly. They will check for possible code violations and faulty wiring to ensure that your system is up to standard.
If your solar energy system is approved, they will connect you to their grid which will serve as the final step of the installation process.
It may seem difficult to decide whether or not to build a PV solar system, but keep in mind that such a system is a long-term investment. From a budgetary standpoint, solar power is a smart alternative in many places.
With our guide, you’ll have a better idea of how solar panels function and why it could benefit your home to have a system installed. So give your local solar provider a call, then get ready to go green and start saving money.
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