Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

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Around the world, renewable energy is on the rise, and these alternative energy sources could hold the key to combating climate change. Solar power is the collection of solar radiation to produce electricity, and it is quickly becoming a conventional household technology upgrade and a viable and cost-effective power source for hundreds of thousands of homeowners.

As with any new technology, there will always be advantages and disadvantages involved. However, solar power has rapidly advanced over the past few years as a viable and attainable energy source for homeowners across the US and the world.

The benefits of solar energy have so far outweighed the drawbacks, and we can expect this shift to accelerate as solar power becomes more and more popular. If you’re interested in installing solar panels, or if you’re just looking to learn more about solar, it is essential to look at the pros and cons associated with this blossoming technology.

While there are significant advantages to solar power, there are also a few drawbacks that consumers should understand. We’ll deal with both in this article, but we’ll start with the positives.

Pros

Savings

The main goal of solar power is to eliminate or offset the majority of your electricity bill. Switching to solar puts money back in your pocket. Homeowners with solar power have significant financial savings over their previous utility bills.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost to install solar has decreased by over 70 percent in the last ten years. That means an average home system today costs way less than before, and that’s not counting the incentives, such as the solar investment tax credit. Solar panel installations are sized to offset all or a considerable portion of your home’s energy needs. This gives you independence from increases and uncertainty in future energy prices.

On top of all this, it should be noted that the US solar industry is a seventeen billion dollar industry that employs 250,000 people, which is more than double when compared to just six years ago. This means that solar power not only provides individual savings but promotes and boosts our economy in general.

Power Credit

Some months your panels may produce more power than you need. Being connected to the utility power grid allows you to get credit for the power you don’t use. When this happens, your utility company will credit you for the additional energy your home has generated.

If you have extra credits left over at the end of the year, you can choose to have your utility company send you a check for the excess power you’ve produced.

Many Financing Options

Over the past few years, the solar market has drastically expanded, creating a demand for solar providers and installers and increased financing options for homeowners. Whether you don’t want to pay any upfront costs, or you want to purchase the panels outright, there’s a match for every budget.

As solar power has become more mainstream, there have been significant advances in the types of financing options available. This has helped open up the solar market to virtually all homeowners, including opportunities with zero money down for some types of installations.

Also, there are significant federal, state, and local incentives and rebates to decrease the price of installation further. Making the switch to solar power has been made much more accessible in recent years thanks to these rebates and incentives. Applicable incentives vary by region, but they play an essential role in helping homeowners save thousands of dollars on power.

The Sun Shines Everywhere

Solar power is an abundant and valuable resource that can be harnessed virtually anywhere. Energy from the sun is available everywhere in the world. The sun shines every day, and homes in all climates can benefit from solar installations. Since the sun shines all across the globe, every country has the potential to produce energy from it, allowing for greater energy independence and security.

A common misconception is that you must live in a very sunny area for solar power to be effective. However, cloudy regions, particularly those with high energy bills, can realize significant energy savings with solar panels.

Energy from the sun is so abundant that enough sunlight hits the earth in one hour to meet the world’s yearly energy supply, and new technologies are being developed by researchers across the globe that capture that energy. Catching even a small fraction of this energy provides a significant amount of power.

Clean Energy Source

Producing energy for your home with power from the sun is a clean, sustainable source of electricity. There’s no air or water pollution associated with the production of energy from solar panels. Moreover, at the current level of solar-energy generation, there are seventy-four million metric tons of CO2 being eliminated. That’s equivalent to planting about two billion trees or taking sixteen million vehicles off the road.

We can feel comforted by the fact that switching to solar is beneficial for the environment and will help us preserve our resources for generations to come. Solar power is renewable and produces no pollution during its operation.

While all of this is true, it should be noted that the production of solar panels themselves produces large amounts of greenhouse gases. Nitrogen-trifluoride and sulfur-hexafluoride have been liked to the creation of solar panels. Many solar energy technologies are based on the same materials as other electronics, and they may contain some hazardous substances, such as lead and cadmium, that are a challenge to dispose of.

It’s Free

Solar power is free, and it cannot be controlled by any company. This may be one of the most significant benefits because once you have solar panels, there’s nothing to stop you from harnessing the Sun’s abundant energy.

As an infinite resource, you will never have to worry about a dwindling supply or shortages, and the ability to produce your own power will grant you independence from the uncertainty of oil and gas prices. The sun will be here for millions of years to help you realize significant energy savings.

Reliability

The sun is also an extremely reliable energy source. It will rise every day. Sure, some days are cloudier than others, but with the enormous advances in solar power technology, our panels today can still produce significant electricity under cloudy skies, and once those clouds clear, we can rest assured that the sun will always be there.

High-Quality Installation

Over the past few years, the installation of residential solar panels has been tweaked and perfected into a science. In the past, solar panel installations could take up to a couple of weeks; however, new tools and processes have cut the installation time down to just a couple of hours. Imagine being able to produce your own electricity by lunchtime! Decreased installation time means you also save on parts and labor costs.

Durability

Stationary residential solar panels don’t have any moving parts, making them very low-maintenance, as well as built to last for decades. They are engineered to withstand hurricane-strength winds, hail, and snowstorms, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Panel maintenance is virtually nonexistent as well. You don’t need to worry about cleaning your panels or scraping off the snow. The panels are installed at an angle to allow any buildup to slide off, giving you more time to spend on more important things.

Solar Panel Placement

Solar panels generate power silently and can be located almost anywhere, including most pre-existing structures. They can also come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

Most homeowners today that have solar panels have a rooftop installation. This placement is not only convenient for hooking panels up to your home’s electrical wires, but it also saves you precious yard space. Solar panels protect your roof from weathering and can help keep your home cool as a result of the shade provided by the panels.

Decreased Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Harnessing the Sun’s energy to power our homes and businesses will drastically reduce our demand for finite fossil-fuel resources. This is excellent news for our wallets, our communities, and our environment.

By taking advantage of this clean, renewable resource, we can separate ourselves from some of the costs and uncertainty of today’s fossil fuel markets. There’s no possibility that solar energy will run out, unlike fossil fuel.

Cons

Panels Only Work During the Day

Solar power is not a constant source of energy, as it varies by time of day, weather, and season. Since solar panels need sunlight to produce electricity, they only work during the day, and unless you’re in the North Pole in the summer, the sun doesn’t shine 24/7. At night or on cloudy days, alternate power sources or storage batteries are required.

You may be wondering how you’re going to get your electricity after the sun goes down. Well, the vast majority of homes with solar power are still connected to their utility’s electric grid. This allows homeowners to access the electricity they need any time of day or night.

Unfortunately, being connected to the grid also means that when the utility’s power goes out, your power goes out too. Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence for most homeowners.

Excess Energy

Energy storage is also vital for solar energy, and unfortunately, it is both expensive and technologically challenging. Solar-powered homes that are connected to the grid do not store any excess power their panels produce.

While there are batteries you can purchase to store the energy from your panels, it is much more cost-effective to connect your panels to the utility grid and receive credit for the excess energy you produce.

Cost

Although most people today choose to lease their panels, some decide to purchase them outright. Solar panels have a high initial construction and installation cost. Large-scale solar generation installations can also take up significant areas of land, and they can degrade natural habitat.

Some people even fight the installation of solar panels in their neighborhoods. If this is the case in your area, you may need to convince your neighbors that installing solar panels on your roof is a good idea.

If you were planning on purchasing solar panels outright, you would likely be facing a high upfront cost. However, in today’s solar market, with a variety of financing methods available, you can weigh your options before jumping in and purchasing a system.

While purchasing panels was the most popular way to get solar in the past, this is no longer the case. Leases, loans, and Power Purchase Agreements give homeowners the ability to choose the best option for their budget.

On top of all this, solar energy installations can be damaged by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and storms, leaving the regions they serve without power.

Conclusion

When it comes to making the switch to solar power, it’s essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy. While there are a few disadvantages when it comes to installing solar energy, the benefits here significantly outweigh the drawbacks, and as solar technology continues to develop and expand, we can only expect to see more advantages coming from solar power.

The good news is that many of the cons are being addressed by researchers, and progress is being made. That said, it’s crucial for every homeowner to feel comfortable with their decision to go solar and weigh the solar power pros and cons according to their situation.

How Does the Weather Affect Solar Panels?

There is no person who did not question the ability of solar panels to work properly when the weather is inconvenient. So what happens when we have a cloudy or rainy day? Do they generate some power or not? Are they efficient or completely blocked? It’s finally time to find out the complete and unwrapped truth regarding this matter.

How solar panel work when there is no sun?

We all know that solar panels are based on solar cells that absorb sunlight and transform it into usable electricity. Every manufacturer says that it is extremely important to place the solar panel in a way that will guarantee it’s always exposed to the sun. That’s logical since it needs as much possible sunlight in order to do its job. So what happens when there is no sun one day? What if the storm took over the sky?

The answer is – nothing happens, solar panels will continue to convert photons (small particles of sun’s light) into electrons or direct electricity.  There is a huge misconception that the solar system won’t be able to produce power we need if there is no direct sunlight. It can actually because solar panel cells don’t necessarily need direct contact with sunlight, they just need those photons emitted by the sun.

So even if the day is super cloudy, photons will be spread into the atmosphere, and the solar panels will be able to absorb them and generate electricity. But you should know that the solar system won’t be as efficient during those days as it would be on a bright sunny day. It will have less energy absorption. If there are clouds in the sky, your solar panels will work with a maximum of 25 percent capacity, so there definitely will be a difference in power output.

How different weather impact the solar system?

Modern-day solar panels are built in a way that allows them to withstand different and extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, snowstorm, hail, severe wind, and extreme heat. When they are constructed, they are subject to testing, and they need to get Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) certification in order to claim they are resistant to bad weather and extremes in that sense.

But, you need to know that that certificate doesn’t guarantee every solar panel has the same quality and durability. Most solar panels should withstand wind up to 140 MPH, and they can only benefit from cold temperatures because the whiteness of snow will reflect light and improve their performances. It’s just important they are clean and not covered with loads of snow.

Although they are built to last and to face different challenges, solar panels can be damaged by hail or storm, for example. But in that case, you should be covered with your warranty or insurance policy. And let’s not forget about the most surprising fact – extreme hot climates can lower the efficiency of solar panels! If the temperature is above 87 degrees, you can expect that exactly this happens. Every degree above this number will lower their productivity by one percent.

Does solar panel work at night?

No, solar panels don’t have the ability to generate electricity during the night because they need the sunlight in order to do that. They tend to go to the sleep mode when this part of the day comes along and to stay that way until the sun begins to rise again. Some experts, however, claim that solar panels can work based on some other light sources like the moon or some strong street lights, but it is negligible since the output will be extremely low.

Do solar panels work in the rain?

Solar panels are built in a way that allows them to use direct and indirect sunlight in order to generate electricity. That means that although they are most efficient when the day is bright and shiny, they will be able to continue with this process even if the sun is hidden by the rainy clouds. So yes, they can work in the rain, the question is just how much power they will generate in that case. There is a belief that rain is actually good for the solar system because it will naturally wash the dust and every other piece or particle of dirt off them. 

How does snow affect solar panels?

One of the solar myths is that solar panels do not work during the winter. The actual truth is they can still do their job, especially because the whiteness of the snow will reflect light and improve the solar system’s performance. Certainly, you will generate less power during these cold months that you will in the summer, but that’s not the reason to decide not to install them. The problem may occur when the huge amount of snow falls and traps solar panels underneath – at that point, they will not be able to work, so you will have to get up there and remove deposits of snow as soon as possible.

Solar panels after hurricane

This natural force can cause some serious damage to your entire house, not just the solar system. The power of the wind can dislocate your solar panels, separate them from the roof and rip some wires, but the insurance will most likely cover that. Solar panels are designed to withstand winds of approximately 140 MPH, but that’s just, generally speaking, every brand has its own, more specific assessments in this matter. Another thing you should worry about is water exposure since it can affect the wiring. But the thing you have to know is that solar panels are much more durable and resistant that they look like, that’s one of the reasons they cost so much.

solar panels during winter

How durable are solar panels?

If you decide on purchasing a high-quality solar system, you won’t have to worry about it. Those solar panels will be able to resist a lot of inconveniences and stay bulletproofed to weather impact. Usually, top-rated solar systems are placing their durability as number one attribute, right next to their efficiency, and they will probably degrade extremely slowly. Most manufacturers claim their products will look like they are new for years if properly maintained, and that they will produce 92 percent of power up to 25 years of usage.

It is also important to say that even though solar panels look very fragile and super sensitive, they are actually used as roof protectors, regarding extreme weather conditions. They can hold on to a significant amount of snow, for example, but you should remove it as soon as you can in order to enable them to work again.

What is a proper installation that will withstand bad weather?

You really need to make sure your solar system is installed and mounted precisely as it should, to make sure it will not be destroyed by an accident or some weather disaster. You really don’t want to risk your entire investment for some extra money you will pay professionals to do this for you, or some extra time you will devote yourself to study the installation manual.

If you decide on going with an installation company, make sure they are highly recommended and reputable in this industry. Because not all of them know all new technologies solar systems are built on, or they are not well informed about local wind movements and other standard or exceptional climate conditions.

But if, on the other hand, you are certain you can do that with your own hands and knowledge, you have to follow the specific manual, created by the manufacturer. Also, let’s not forget about regulations (local, federal, and state) you have to take into consideration when doing this sort of thing or about the perfect angle you need to place a solar system to make sure they will deliver with full capacity. Some people might find it as a challenge the advanced wiring systems, or the fact they need to check if the roof of the house is suitable and strong enough to hold the whole solar system.

Conclusion

We understand that these questions are some of the first ones that come up in your mind when you decide to go solar. And that’s absolutely expected. The fact solar panels work with the help of sunlight does impose the question of bad weather and its influence on the solar system. We concluded that panels would continue to transform the power of the sun into electricity on a cloudy day as well, but it is not negligible that their efficiency will be significantly lower. Just like with every other renewable source and its usage, this, too, has its flaws. But the fact is advantages are so big that this is something you can definitely live with. Because on those super sunny days, your solar system will produce more electricity than you need, and all that surplus can be stored and saved for days when they just can’t deliver.

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need?

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Solar panel systems for homes are decreasing in price and increasing in popularity. Many homeowners are starting to see the advantages of solar power, and you may have seen quite a few systems being installed in your neighborhood.

If you have made the decision to move forward with your solar ambitions, but are unsure about the size of the system you’re going to need, this article is for you. In the following few paragraphs, we’re going to talk about how to size your solar system properly, so keep on reading.

Figuring out the size of your solar energy system begins with a straightforward question: ‘How many solar panels do I need?’ Because most people would like to produce enough energy so that they are entirely independent of their utility company, eliminating their bill for electricity, the first step is to determine how much power is consumed by your household. It boils down to calculating the number of kilowatt-hours of energy you require and getting the right amount of appropriately-sized solar panels to power your home.

How Many Solar Panels to Power a House?

construction worker and lady looking at house plansFirst, we could talk about some general facts and numbers. The average home in the US requires anywhere between 28 and 34 solar panels to become completely independent from the power grid. Also, panel performance and geographical location are important factors that you need to consider when determining the number of panels your house needs. Hence, things are not quite so simple to calculate.

The average American household consumes roughly ten thousand kWh per year, which is how we reached the average number of solar panels required to be between 28 and 34 250W panels depending on roof size and location.

If you’re still wondering how we came up with those numbers, the breakdown is relatively straightforward. When you want to know how much power your house needs to operate daily, start by taking a look at the number of watt-hours used every day. To do this, simply look at your electric bill, which will most likely provide you with a yearly kWh consumption and divide the number by 365 to get your daily use.

For some perspective, you should know that one kWh equals a thousand watts of power used within one hour. This means that if you have ten lights in your home, all using 60W bulbs, having all the lights on for one hour will add up to 600Wh or 0.6kWh of electricity.

Location is also significant, with the highest and lowest solar panel production ratios differing by a considerable margin depending on where you live. The amount of power your panels can produce depends most of all on how much sunlight they will receive.

If you plan on mounting them on your roof, this means the amount of sunlight received by your roof on average. This amount depends not only on where you live but also on the season you are currently in. California is not the same as Maine in terms of annual sunny days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t produce enough power to cover your needs in both states; you’ll just need a more extensive system in Maine than you would in California.

residential solar panels on the roof

How Much Solar Do I Need?

To begin answering that question, we’re going to start by telling you the most important thing you need to remember when designing any solar system. Every component you buy and every decision you make regarding your solar set-up revolves around the idea of knowing how much power you need to power the appliances that you want.

Therefore, the size of your solar array, a.k.a. the number of solar panels that you need solely depends on how much energy you use daily. You should size your battery bank depending on how long you want your energy storage to last. The charge controller needs to be able to manage the energy between your battery banks and solar panels correctly. At the same time, your inverter will depend on the type of appliances you want to power. Even the sizes of fuses and wires depend on how much energy is going to be flowing through.

Solar Panel Size Calculation

solar panel calculationAt this point, you’re probably asking yourself how to size your system and how to calculate all the stuff that we mentioned above. Lucky for you, we’re here to tell you exactly how to do that.

First, you need to list out every appliance that you intend to power using your solar system. We know this isn’t the most exhilarating work you’ll ever do, but you need to go to every appliance in your home and find their power consumption rating. This label can either be imprinted on the charger or on a sticker on the device itself.

What you’re looking for is the output rating for the appliance. This can either be listed in volts and milliamps or amps. Ultimately you are concerned with the wattage of the device. If it already says the number of watts on the label, simply go ahead and write that number down, but most devices will use volt and amp labeling. Thankfully, there is a simple formula you can use to convert those values into your output wattage. The equation is this – W (Watts) = V (Volts) x A (Amps). If you have milliamps (mA) as your variable, all you need to do is divide that number by 1000 do get the value in amps, so, for example, 500mA = 0.5A.

If you can’t seem to find the power consumption rating label, look instead for the model number of your device. Either Google this number, or find a similar device online so that you could get an idea of how much power that will draw.

Once you list out every appliance that you intend to use with your solar power system, along with the corresponding output wattage, you’ll want to ask yourself how long you’re going to use each appliance daily. For this number, you’re going to use hours as your variable. So, if you’re going to use a device for half an hour or 15 minutes each day, write it down as 0.5 and 0.25 hours, respectively.

After you have written down how much time you plan to use your devices each day, you’re going to want to multiply the output wattage by the hours per day that you intend to use each device.

how much power for solar panels imageFor example, take your 15w phone charger and multiply that with the 2 hours that you intend to use it per day. That gives you 30 watt-hours (Wh). Let’s also say that your partner has the same charger and wants to use it for the same amount, all you need to do is multiply that final amount by two, and you get your total number of Wh spent on charging your phones per day, which is 60.

Next, repeat this process for each appliance that you have on your list, and at the end, each machine should have a corresponding Wh figure. Finally, add all those watt-hour numbers and write down the total Watt Hours/Day spent in your household.

Now that you have this number, all you need to do is divide it by the wattage of your desired solar panels, and you’ll have the magic number. There are many calculators online you can use to give you an exact measurement, taking into account the temperature your batteries will encounter as well as other factors, but this is the simplest explanation of the process.

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to solar panel systems. The number of solar panels in a set-up differs from one system to another. A significant factor determining how many solar panels you need is your electric bill, and most people aim to save the most money by installing enough panels to cover all of their electricity needs.

Your location is another factor. Depending on their geographic location, solar panels produce different amounts of electricity. For example, you’ll generate more power in a year if you install solar panels in Florida than if you install the same number of panels in Alaska, simply because Florida gets more sunshine.

Your solar panels should ideally be installed facing south in an area with no shade. However, that may not always be possible. Panels facing other directions will still produce electricity, although not as much as if they face the south. Therefore, you’ll probably have to install additional panels to achieve the same results.

In the end, some solar panels are more efficient than others. Highly efficient solar panels generate more energy, but they are also more expensive, which means you will not be able to install as many of them. If you choose to consult with a solar installation company, their professional team will take all these factors into account when they custom design a solar panels system for your home or business.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

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Of course that you are worried about the durability of super pricey solar panel system you are planning to install on top of your roof. It’s very commendable you decided to go solar, but now, there are some ongoing issues we need to tap on in order to prove you did not make a mistake.

The lifespan of solar panels is undoubtedly one of those, given you are trying to calculate the period of time in which you will be able to pay off the investment for sure. Besides that, it’s important to predict when, in the future, you will be forced to invest in reparations or to purchase new items. So the question is, how long do solar panels last?

The average lifetime of solar panels is around 25-30 years, but that doesn’t mean they will be „dead“ and ready for trash when that time passes by. The experts claim that after two to three decades, they will stop working with full capacity, but they will still be able to generate electricity, just not to that extent as before. If panels are not damaged in a storm or some kind of accident, they will continue to work properly for many years to come.

Statistics and solar panel degradation rate

Research conducted in 2012 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has shown that each year, solar panel output reduces by 0.8 percent, on average. The truth is, this degradation rate today is less than it used to be at the moment when these results were released since the technology got even better over the years. Besides that, this factor depends on many things. It’s conditioned by the solar panel brand you chose, as well as the panel type you decided to suit you the most.

If you want to do the math, you need to determine the projected output of solar panels after some time, multiply the actual degradation rate with the number of years you are planning to use them (that’s usually the number of years solar panels are under warranty), and then subtract that number you get from 100 percent. Now, you can understand that even after many years, they are going to work just fine, with most of their capacity.

longevity of solar panels imageWhy is this happening?

The rate of degradation of a solar panel is conditioned by the type of panel and the natural forces we cannot influence or control. If we take crystalline panels, for example, they are more resistant than others and can withstand extreme cold and heat for more than two decades. On the other side, we have film panels which are much more sensitive and will start the process of degradation quite faster.

However, the weather conditions are the factor that affects them the most, so the location of your home can be a crucial thing that will determine their lifespan. The truth is that those panels which are subjected to often and a strong wind blows, heavy snow loads, the impact of falling hail, and exhausting heat will for sure gradually lose solar panel efficiency and structural integrity. But panels installed in a place with a favorable climate will degrade at a much slower pace.

How can you prolong their life?

There isn’t much you can do really, besides providing the solar system with yearly service and regular check-ups by a professional. Although fragile, solar panels are very durable per se since they don’t have any movable parts, and they can withstand heavy snow loads, falling hail, as well as high winds. Just make sure they are clean, without piles of dust on top, and let them do the job they are made for.

Some experts say that strong wind and adverse weather conditions are able to leave a mark on solar panels and that they are going to degrade much faster if they are exposed to it often. So, when choosing the location for panels, before installing the whole system, think about any possible way you can shelter them a bit from the wind.

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Standard solar panel warranties

Make sure you purchase solar panels with excellent warranties. This is a huge investment for every household, so be smart and protect yourself. Manufacturers are usually giving 25 years of production warranties, which means they guarantee your system will provide you with an acceptable amount of energy during that time and work in high capacity.

Renewed solar manufacturers are promising your panels will do the job during that protected period in continuity while producing at least 80 percent of the energy they should. It means, for example, that a 300-watt solar panel will be capable of generating a minimum of 240 watts till the warranty ends. Besides that production warranty, they also have a tendency to give 12 to 15 years of equipment warranties, which will cover any defects as well as environmental damages of certain parts.

What happens after 25 years?

Having in mind that photovoltaic is a relatively new method for generating electric power by using solar cells, there isn’t much data on what really happens after that period of time predicted as solar panel’s lifespan. The majority of solar panel systems that are currently in use are less than a decade old, so we will have to wait and see for ourselves.

But, a couple of things are certain and unquestionable – the first-ever modern solar panel is still working after 60 years; there are some registered examples where panels outperformed their original factory specifications; the technology is getting better and better as we speak and panels are more durable and productive than ever. So there is a great chance the results will be preferable in the future.

Maintenance

In order to make sure you are doing everything necessary to prolong the life of your solar system, make sure your installer thoroughly examine panels each year. That way you can prevent some serious problems showing up and complicate your life. But do not do it by yourself, because, first of all, you are not an expert, and you can even make things worse by trying to fix something you know nothing about, and second of all you can annul your panel warranty. Regular inspection will reveal any potential problems like exposed wires or loose racking.

The most important thing is that solar panels do not defect to the weather or some object that stand close to them and that they are securely mounted to the roof. Since we gave you the estimated lifespan of panels, you should also know that standard central inverter, which is mostly used, won’t last more than 15 years, so you will need to replace it at some point during the lifetime of your solar panel system. But the micro version of the inverter you can also use will get to the same number of years as an average solar panel.

Disposal and recycling process

We already know solar panels are a clean source of energy and that they minimize greenhouse emissions. Also, with them, there is no wastage present. Once installed, the solar panel system will continue to work and provide you with electricity for a long time. They just need to be checked and cleaned once in a while.

They do, however, have some kind of expiration date. Solar panels will provide with less and less as time goes by, so it’s up to you to decide when it’s the right moment to replace them with the set of new ones that will generate energy with full capacity.

Solar panels can undergo a recycling process, which is another thing you must love about them. It is possible to disassemble each panel to its parts and implement the normal recycle cycle with each group, or, since this procedure is quite complicated, you can do the recycling with advanced recycling machinery.

The solar recycling market is at its beginnings, given the fact that there are no many solar panels ready to be wiped out. This is still a relatively new branch regarding power providing mechanisms, so most of the solar systems are very young, not even close to stepping out of the standard warranty period.

Conclusion

As it turns out, you really don’t have to worry. First of all, it’s certain that the decision to install solar panels and make them the primary source of energy will pay off quite soon, even though it does require a significant amount of money. Pretty soon, you will find them to be one of the most sustainable and affordable sources of energy. And second of all – they won’t turn on you for a long time until you get really old we dare to say.

The climate is changing, there is no doubt about that. So we can no longer predict what the weather will be like the next winter or this fall, and that is troublesome. But the fact that the solar system can go through decades while fighting against every storm and all those surprises coming from the sky should give you proof and warranty they will manage to stay on course and do the job correctly. They are fragile, there is no doubt about that, but they are also super durable if maintained correctly.

All About Federal Solar Tax Credit

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So, you heard that you could save up to 30 percent on solar tax credit if you decide to install the solar system at your home. We have to confirm that the provided information is true and that you have the right to use this benefit when you implement solar construction on top of your household roof.

What is the Solar Tax Credit?

The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), or as it’s also called the Federal Solar Tax Credit was created under the George Bush administration with the purpose to facilitate the adoption of clean energy usage. This was part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and it all started as a 30 percent credit for residential projects capped at $2,000.

Today, ITC presents hope for all enthusiasts who want to make some changes in their lives and to give their contribution regarding the matter of taking care of the planet. Basically, it is a 30 percent tax incentive on the gross cost of your household solar system.

In order to get the solar tax credit, you must have ownership of your solar system that has been purchased by solar loans or cash. Those with PPA financing or lease won’t be able to claim it. Also, you have to have an income tax liability because that is what this incentive reduces.

Solar Tax Credit met the expiration date

It seems like ITC has been quite a motivation for a considerable number of people over the previous years because the federal government decided to extend the incentive expiration date twice already. The bad news is that the latest resolution from 2016 says there is a schedule that will gradually phase out this credit over the next couple of years.

As a matter of fact, 2019 is the last year when U.S citizens will be able to claim a full 30 percent tax credit. From 2020 they will have right only on 26 percent, the year after that one, the number will be 22, and from 2022 the residential portion of the solar tax credit will be entirely eliminated. Only commercial and industrial projects will be able to get 10 percent.

How to calculate and claim Solar Tax Credit?

First of all, you need to take into account the whole system cost, which can include everything necessary to set up and improve solar installations. It would be good to consult with your tax advisor about the specifics, but most things, including electrical work, should be covered.

The credit is based on this rule – a dollar for dollar income tax reduction, which means that it actually reduces the entire amount of taxes you have. In order to get this benefit, you have to file under IRS Form 5695. If you do everything right, you will get your tax credit the year that’s following the one when you installed and paid for your solar system.

Take two IRS tax forms with their instructions – form 1040 and form 5695, and carefully fill all the necessary lines and gaps. The first one is a standard federal income tax form with some extra boxes you have to mark to reduce your tax bill. The most important thing is to write down the full amount of money you invested in getting your solar system set up on your roof. That includes the cost of solar panels, as well as the prices associated with the installation and other materials.

Then take that amount and multiply it with 30% (.30). The number you got is your solar tax credit. The next step is to find out if you have any kind of limitations regarding the tax credit and how much of a reminder, if you even have any, you can rollover into your tax return next year.

The entire procedure might seem a bit complicated, but if you read the instructions carefully and consult with tax professionals, you should figure it all out. Only that way you can come to the amount of the credit you can claim this year.

Do the math

Given that the Investment Tax Credit takes into account the gross cost of a solar system, you can get the proportional tax credit to that sum. That means that the credit amount depends on the size of a solar system you are purchasing. The bigger system implies a bigger credit.
But don’t forget about the changes the future is bringing. For example, if you claim the solar tax credit for the amount of $30.000 in 2019, you will get $9.000 tax credit. But if you do the whole thing for the same amount next year, the credit will be $7.800. It’s not an insignificant difference, so make sure to maximize your savings if you can and if you still got time.

How Solar Loans affect Solar Tax Credit?

You need to know that there are two types of solar loans that are significant to the solar tax credit. The first one is based on the assumption that you are going to submit your tax credit for each monthly payment. In case you don’t do that, you will have to initiate another loan in the tax credit amount.

The other solar loan is organized in a different way – you have different payment schedules for year one then for all others. It’s based on the entire amount of a loan. So you have an option to submit the federal tax credit and to re-amortize your loan to lower monthly payments, or you can keep it, and your payments will remain the same.

 

How to make sure you are eligible to claim the Solar Tax Credit?

If you are planning on claiming the right for Solar Tax Credit in 2019s taxes, you have to make sure that you buy and install the entire solar system this year. Given the end of the year is quite close, this might be a challenge. Even though the whole process of setting up the construction is usually finished in a day or two, many tend to forget it may take weeks for the solar project to be completed, after contract signing.

So be sure you are right on schedule. Don’t leave it for later if you already decided this is the right step for you and your family. And bear in mind one more thing. You are not the only one who is aware the next year will bring smaller solar tax incentives, so there are probably more people hurrying up to do the work in this short period. That means the installers will be pretty busy, and you may find yourself in a situation where you did everything right, but you didn’t get to hire the workers in time.

What will happen after 2022?

We can only speculate since there are no official statements or strategic planning. But if the tax credit is no more an option after 2022, states might take charges. There are states like California that launch 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) targets, so homeowners in those areas might get some sort of incentives.

If, however, Congress takes the matter in its own hands, there is a chance they will adjust this stepping-down schedule in the future, just like they did in the past. That mostly depends on government politics, so it’s quite uncertain.

Conclusion

Even if everything stays the same as the government officially announced, there is still time for you to put your house and finances in order, and claim the right you have. Since it’s almost the end of 2019, and we know the next year will bring incentive conditions that are not so ideal, it’s understandable that you are a bit frustrated. But it’s not the end of the world.

You can still get excellent support regarding your decision to go solar, and therefore save a significant amount of money. Just don’t wait any longer. If you thought about it well, did your research and calculations, make a move. The time for these kinds of huge ventures is now.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost? Installation & Average Price

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The main reason you decided to welcome solar panel system at your home is probably the desire to reduce the cost of your electricity bills, and use the power source nature gave us for free. There is also the matter of need to be more responsible towards the environment and our planet, but that is the subject of another discussion.

If you have made up your mind and you are ready to do this, to start a transition to solar power, you must be wondering how much will the whole thing cost, precisely. We are talking about the price of each panel, the cost of installation, mounting, maintaining, reparation, etc.

For starters, the most common way of doing this math is by looking at the price of a panel in dollars per watt. This year, the average national cost of a solar panel was $2.99/watt. After receiving this information, you should know that the average size of the solar panel system in the U.S is approximately six kilowatts. That means that the price of most standard solar composition would be $12,558 after tax credits. And the best part is that in 2020 the price will be even lower, as predicted.

Relation between solar panel price and size

How much money you will have to get out of your pocket or bank account depends on a couple of things, but mostly on the size of the system. The question is – how much electricity you want to generate this way. The bigger system asks for more panels, more equipment, and, therefore, more money.

After you do the calculations and determine what is the thing you need and want, you should talk to your neighbors, especially those who already have the solar system installed, to see what they say. One thing is talking about this, analyzing the statistics taken from the internet, and completely different having an insight into the real situation on the ground. Because the thing is, the total cost of going solar depends on the state you live in.

What you should also know is that bigger solar systems will cost more initially, but they will also result in more savings in the months and years to come. The huge installations, which can generate enough energy to cover all your needs regarding electricity, and make sure you can easily go off the grid, will pay off for sure looking long term since you won’t have to pay electricity bill anymore.

cost of solar panelsAverage cost by states

It could be very tricky if you created your budget list based on someone else’s experience, especially if that person lives in a different state than you. There can be considerable differences in that matter, from getting all necessary licenses to the cost of purchasing and installing a system like this one. A couple of factors are influencing the cost settings, but the price of electricity is number one without a doubt.

According to the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, the average price of the solar system (for 6 kW household) in Florida, for example, is going from $9,240 to $12,852, while in Iowa, the price range is $13,440 – $14,448. And these are the total prices we get after subtracting standard 30 percent federal tax credit for solar.

An interesting fact is that the top 10 states if we are looking installed solar capacities, are even going higher than the national average panel cost per watt. That proves that solar culture is not only blossoming in those regions of the United States, where the solar panel price is extremely low. It’s growing all across the country, no matter if the direct correlation of cost per watt isn’t the most favorable one.

Price determined by manufacturer

Different solar panel brands have their own calculations and philosophy regarding pricing. All you should care about is to get accurate and current information about this particular angle and compare products of one manufacturer, with the same ones from another. Analyze what they are offering, the quality of panels, their design, potential flaws, as well as the price they are asking for.

EnergySage Solar Marketplace is showing us that there aren’t many brands in the U.S soil willing to exceed the average price too much. Most of the manufacturers are asking from $14.000 to $20.000 to set up an average 6kW solar panel system at your household. But you should have in mind that there are many factors which can impact the final system price – the location of a household, inverter brand, racking equipment, etc.

solar panels installation cost imageThe cost of installation

It’s more often than you think that people count in only the cost of solar panels when thinking about the final amount of money they will have to pay. But there is also the expense for installation many tend to forget. And not just that, people assume that this particular agenda is always the same. But it’s not, it depends on many things, such as equipment, home characteristics, permits, and labor.

In most states, you will have to pay the fee in order to connect your solar energy system to the grid. You cannot avoid that part, so you should be prepared and ask around how much does that cost. Then, you will need to hire the professional crew who will design, assemble, and install solar panels at your roof. That will be an extra expense too.

When it comes to equipment, you need to know that not every solar panel comes with all necessary parts to put the whole system together. On some occasions, you will be forced to buy cables, connectors, or inverter separately. So the price range, when you look at the solar panel selection, can be quite significant. Also, you should know this as well – the more efficient equipment is, the price tag will be higher.

Now, this next aspect is the one nobody is thinking about, but it’s the one that has a great impact on the total installation cost. We are talking about the position of your house, but also about the construction of your roof. If your home, for example, is facing south, your roof specifically, and it’s positioned at a 30 degree angle, you won’t have any problem with setting everything up. But, if you have skylights, multiple level roof or your house is positioned otherwise, the process of installing the solar system will be a bit harder, and therefore, more expensive.

How much can you save?

The solar machinery is on your roof now, and it’s working smoothly. So, at this point, you are probably thinking about how much money are you going to save after, let’s say 20 years of using solar power as the primary source of electricity at your home. We have to admit that the precise amount depends, as usual, on a couple of things.

The first question is, where do you live? Different cities and states have different electricity costs since they are charged by the local utility company, as well as different rebates and incentives for going solar. And on top of that, the amount of sunshine is not the same at each location.

For example, homeowners in Boston who decided to install solar systems can hope to save around $44.000 on electricity bills only, while the family in Seattle cannot hope to put by more than $12.000 considering all the factors listed above.

Besides that, the payback period will be different for people living in different places. The average household in the U.S will be able to repay everything invested in seven years, which really is not too bad, but that number can be even lower if you live in Boston, for example. The predicted period for breaking even over there is five years. Those who live in Charlotte, however, won’t be that lucky, given the predictions say number for them to pay back the invested 11 years.

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Tips and tricks

Start networking

Before you click “Buy this”, you should think about a couple of things some more. It’s necessary to research this solar topic through and through. That’s something even the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory recommends, so you don’t get caught up with some overpricing, but average local solar panel company. Compare all the offers and options, and learn about all the details you can so you don’t get fooled.

In order to avoid large installers and find some smaller enterprises that usually tend to give more acceptable offers, you should use the installer network, which may bring you many benefits. There are some excellent services they can provide, such as getting a bid from a couple of local installers after you register the location of your property. That way, although it sounds crazy, you can save from $5.000 to $10.000 smoothly.

Trust smaller companies

Please be aware that shouted names and famous brands are not always the best choice. Don’t be naive and the victim of marketing tactics. We encourage you to consider hiring some small, relatively unknown company if you believe they can provide what you need. They don’t have enough money to pay for advertising, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do the job well.

Research conducted by the U.S. government showed that big solar installers are up to five thousand dollars more expensive than the smaller capacity companies. Having that in mind, you should definitely take some time to compare all offers you get, collect some information about each company you’re thinking about as possible match, and make sure you don’t overpay for solar.

Don’t forget about equipment

We talked about the necessity of research and comparing the offers before choosing one when it comes to purchasing solar panels, as well as installer company employment. But you shouldn’t forget about the equipment too.

The truth is that this huge, national-scale installing firms are doing the unthinkable – they are offering higher prices, but they tend to have fewer solar equipment options. So, when studying which solar package to buy, you need to take a good look at supporting equipment as well and check if everything you need is there. You will save some money that way for sure since you won’t be in a position to buy parts separately.

Incentives

There are so many financial incentives that can make the solar market very alluring and welcome, even in the states and cities that cannot brag about the great amount of sunlight. There is no doubt that the final cost of a solar system depends on where you live, and what tax credits, local incentives, rebates and grants you can get.

The experience of those who went through the process of purchasing and installing the solar construction showed us that expenses could be cut off by 50 percent and more if the homeowners know what door they should knock-on, and what rights they have in this matter. Some of them get the solar system for just a couple of thousand dollars total. Impressive, isn’t it?

Conclusion

In the end, there are two most important things you should remember. First, solar panels themselves are usually just one-third of the total cost when talking about installing the solar system at your household, and second, the best solar panels are not necessarily the most expensive ones. The same applies to the matter of equipment and installation company.

This is the time you should be smart and calculate your options and costs the best possible way. There are definitely things you can do to save some money in a process, but to make it even possible and tangible, you have to be involved and interested to understand how the solar world breathes and lives. It’s quite a challenge, we know, but it will pay off, which is the most important thing, and it will make you feel great satisfaction after all.

6 Types of Solar Panels Explained

solar panel carports

Even though solar power is expected to account for almost 60% of the renewable power capacity growth projected for the next 5 years, that’s not to say that we don’t still have a long way to go before this technology is actually perfected.

While the efficiency and durability of different types of solar panels have been steadily improving for a while now, you still have to make some compromises when choosing which kind to install in your home. 

That’s why we decided to explain the main differences between the solar panels that are most appropriate for residential use, as well as discuss some technologies which are yet to make their way into our backyards.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Despite being one of the older methods of harnessing the sun’s power, monocrystalline panels are still one of the most efficient solutions.

The cells for these panels are made by slicing ingots of pure monocrystalline silicon, resulting in pieces with a perfectly uniform crystal structure. While ensuring that the cells can catch as much energy as possible, this structure also makes them more durable than most of the other types and gives them their recognizable, solid coloring.

With efficiency rates sometimes reaching 25%, the fact that they can operate in higher temperatures without significant drops in performance, and their sturdiness, these panels seem like an ideal choice, but they do come with one downside, i.e. their price.

The process involved in producing silicon of required purity is expensive enough on its own, so when you also consider the fact that a lot of that silicon ends up being wasted when the corners of ingots are rounded off, the costs really start piling up.

Naturally, as they are more durable and efficient than most of the other types of solar panels, while they might require a more substantial initial investment, they can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

Polycrystalline Panels

Also known as multi-crystalline, as their name implies, they are made by combining fragments of different silicon crystals and melting them together. This is responsible for the unevenly blue coloring of these cells, which can help you tell them apart from the other types. The molten silicon can either be shaped into ingots and cut into wafers – the corners are not rounded off like they are in monocrystalline cells, or it can be stretched into thin strips through a process called edge-defined film-fed growth.

The fact that they can’t boast the uniform crystalline structure of their monocrystalline counterparts means that these cells are less effective and often less durable, but their price still makes them a very popular choice for homeowners and even mostly makes up for their drawbacks.

Not only is it much easier to replace them if their sturdiness turns out to be an issue; but the fact that they are on average not as efficient as monocrystalline panels and only capable of converting 12% to 16% of the energy they receive, only means that they will take up more room than a more efficient panel would need in order to provide the same output. In other words, polycrystalline panels might be a perfect choice for people who are not  pressed for space and who would like to keep the initial investment as low as possible

Bifacial Solar Panels

Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells also come in the bifacial variety. While this technology is relatively new, it is already showing promising results.

These panels can produce power when either of their sides receives sunlight, as the backs of the cells are also exposed. This makes them up to 30% more efficient than typical panels, as long as they are installed against reflective surfaces and adequately tilted.

The fact that their performance is highly dependant on the surroundings introduces a degree of unpredictability that is still keeping these panels from becoming widely commercially available, but they are expected to become one of the dominant technologies in the future.

Thin Film Solar Panels

Even though it is catering to a smaller segment of the residential solar energy market than monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells, this technology still has a lot to offer.

Aside from being much cheaper than most of the other methods, it also allows for a lot of flexibility – literally and figuratively.

Namely, since the production of these cells consists of applying a thin layer of silicone or another semiconductive material onto a plastic, metal or glass surface; they can be combined in different types of modules, and don’t have to come as panels. Using flexible materials for the base allows for the creation of portable, adjustable modules and greatly expands the number of potential uses for these cells.

While the low concentration of semiconductive materials makes these cells rather cheap, it also significantly limits their efficiency, keeping it somewhere between 7% and 13%. However, since we already explained why efficiency isn’t too essential if you have enough room, it’s not surprising these cells are as popular as they are.

While they come in a wide variety of types, three of them seem to be the most dominant:

  1. Amorphous silicon (a-Si)
  2. Cadmium telluride (CdTe)
  3. Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS)

While more efficient than the first one, the latter two methods rely on the use of cadmium, which is toxic when ingested or inhaled, and as such, not only potentially hazardous but also difficult to dispose of safely.

While thin film panels are still not as widely used as monocrystalline or polycrystalline varieties, their versatility ensures that there will always be a place for them in the market, and that research into making them more efficient is not likely to stop anytime soon.

 

Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) Panels

While not viable for residential use, these panels are responsible for a significant portion of industrially harnessed solar energy.

In order to capture as much sunlight as possible, CPV panels are equipped with solar trackers, mirrors and lenses; while their cooling systems ensure that this sunlight will be converted into energy as efficiently as possible.

Since this makes these panels more expensive and difficult to maintain, they need to use photovoltaic cells that are efficient enough to justify all the added costs. This is why, instead of using cells with one p-n junction like the other panels described so far, these panels use multi-junction cells.

These cells contain 2 or more layers of semiconductor material, ensuring that the light from different parts of the spectrum is caught by different layers. Since these cells are made by applying these materials to a monocrystalline base, they are quite expensive to produce, and wouldn’t be feasible outside of concentrated systems.

While this heavy focus on their performance does make them too expensive for residential use, it resulted in these cells being able to convert sunlight into power with an impressive efficiency rate of 46%. This has made them the go-to choice in highly demanding circumstances, like for instance, in aeronautics.

Double Glass Panels

Also known as dual glass or glass-glass panels, they are not defined by the type of photovoltaic cells they are using, but instead, by the way, those cells are housed.

Typically, cells are connected into modules on a polymer back-sheet, encased in a metal frame, and protected by a glass panel. However, double glass panels do away with the polymer back-sheet, and in some cases, even the metal frame, instead of being designed to hold the cells securely in place between two layers of glass.

The glass is usually heat-treated to ensure low degradation rates and reactivity, making these panels extremely durable and reliable in terms of output. That is to say that, while it is obvious that this design is perfect for use with bifacial cells, that is by no means its only application.

Double glass panels will often be frameless, which reduces the cost of production and means that they don’t have to be grounded, but which does make them somewhat more delicate during the installation. Once properly installed, however, these panels are not only just as sturdy as the framed models, but also easier to clean and impervious to corrosion.

Conclusion

We have come a long way since the 50s when the first silicon-based solar cell was made, but no one is slowing down to tap themselves on the shoulder just yet. Aside from the panels and cells, we have listed here, there are a number of other technologies that are currently being explored or perfected.

From organic and dye-sensitized solar cells to fully transparent designs or those using nanotechnology to ensure maximum energy absorption, there is no shortage of ideas on how to use the sun’s energy even more efficiently. Since this technology has already helped us reduce our reliance on non-renewable fuels, seeing it progress at such a rapid pace cannot but make us hopeful for the future.

10 Top Solar Energy Myths

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No matter how technologically progressive our society is, it seems like our minds are sometimes to close and unable to keep up with all the novelties. Although solar energy is proven to have so many advantages, both for our pocket and the wellbeing of the planet, there is still too much resistance and too many solar energy myths. In order to change that outcome, as well as the perception in your mind, we present you with the top 10 erroneous conclusions and simple truths that lie behind them.

MYTH 1: Solar panels are too expensive

This might have been the truth 10 years ago, but today solar panels are affordable and in an optimum price range of an average householder. On the other hand, you should really see it as an investment because with solar panels as the leading energy supplier, you can save from $100 to $200 each month on your electric bill. Most times, the decision to implement the solar energy to your home will pay for itself in six to 15 years, but combined with state and federal tax credits, as well as different incentives, you will likely reach that goal in two to four years.

MYTH 2: Solar panels do not work in cold weather

Now, this is nonsense! Solar panels work no matter if it’s sunny, cloudy, or cold outside. New technologies made it possible for them to be effective in continuity, no matter the circumstances like the weather. As a matter of fact, they are more productive in colder days than warmer ones. If you think about it, it makes sense, given that Germany, a country that receives around the same amount of sunshine as Alaska, is currently considered to be a solar superpower.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that solar panels have the ability to produce electricity from indirect light.

MYTH 3: Installing solar panels is a complicated process

First of all, it won’t be you who will do the work. You should think about contracting a reliable manufacturer who knows what he’s doing. The process itself isn’t as complicated as you think, especially if the system is connected to your utility grid, which is quite a common thing. Sure, if you are a handyman yourself and you have enough skills, it’s possible to do the work on your own, but we recommend you ask for the help of a professional, just in case anything goes wrong or turns out to be a bit trickier than you thought it would be.

is solar panel installation complicated myth

MYTH 4: Solar panels are hard to maintain

To make sure it’s providing you with the maximum solar panel efficiency, all you have to do is to give your home solar system a „bath” while using only water and sponge, once or twice a year. It really cannot be easier than that. Solar panels are built in a way that allows them to withstand severe weather, including storms, sleet, and hail. They are sturdy, durable, and reliable.

So just make sure to remove any accumulated filth or snow that has been lying on top of them, and to have a recommended annual inspection in order to prevent any bad outcome. However, you should know that a battery-based system needs more often cleaning than the one without it.

MYTH 5: Solar panels will damage your roof

This is another thing that simply isn’t true. Solar panels won’t do any damage to your house. If anything, they can be thought of as a shield that may extend the life of your roof by protecting it from the different weather elements. Given their lightweight panels won’t make any dents at the construction, which is another misleading claim, but if needed, they can be easily detached and removed. The holes must be made in order to fasten panels to the roof, but well-known and qualified companies in charge of installation are usually using flashed mounts to waterproof roof penetrations.

MYTH 6: Solar energy is not viable

The International Energy Agency made a statement five years ago that, within the decade, solar energy is going to become a viable alternative to fossil fuels – ahead of coal, hydro, and nuclear. As it turns out, they were right. Why? The world is finally becoming aware of all the benefits solar energy brings along, as well as the fact that it doesn’t cost us a thing, except a fact we have to install the system that supports it. Above all, the same Agency is predicting that by 2050, solar power will be the world’s largest source of electricity.

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MYTH 7: Solar energy can power my home when the electricity goes out

Solar panels are not a type of external power generators, they are connected to a grid, so if the power for some reason goes out, you too will be in the dark, regardless of the solar power system. Therefore, solar panels cannot serve you as a back-up plan when AC electricity stops working to maintain the most important house’s appliances until the power is back on.

Sure, there is an option to install a battery system, but it’s a question if it’s worthy of the cost at this moment. Technology has not caught up enough to provide a good cost to benefit ratio regarding this matter.

MYTH 8: It’s hard to get permissions for installing solar panels

It’s not hard, it’s part of the bureaucracy, and it will probably take some time, but it’s not a thing you should be worried about when planning this step. After all, it’s not like you are buying a TV, this is a huge infrastructural venture, and those things take some time. First, you have to consult the city on the regulatory codes that govern such actions, to submit the plan and ask for permission.

The residential request takes less time to be processed than the commercial one and will cost you some, but you already knew that. The fact is that solar energy companies can probably take care of most of those things.

MYTH 9: Solar panels decrease the value of your home

The recent studies showed that people in search of the house are willing to pay much more, up to $15.000 over the price of a regular place, for a home with solar panels placed at its roof. So it’s definitely the opposite, the fact you have a solar household will increase its price on the market.

Some states even don’t count solar energy systems toward the value of your home when calculating property taxes, imagine that! But, you have to keep in mind that the geographic places of the property, as well as the size and the quality of your solar installations, will affect the final price too. Also, as a downside, it may take longer to sell a solar house than the regular one.

MYTH 10: Solar panels are not “green” enough, and they are bad for the environment after they are used up

First of all, there isn’t a power generation method that’s perfect and without faults, but reliable data shows that even though the emissions of solar panels exits, it’s far less than the one relating to coal or natural gas energy. Even if taking the energy needed for manufacturing solar panels in the equation, the overall emission is still three to 10 times less than the one from traditional fossil fuels. And regarding the environment, solar panels are built to last for about 25 years (number depends on manufacturer), after which they can be recycled.

HONEST ADVICE: Don’t believe everything you hear, try to become more open to thriving options and possibilities, and make sure to fully understand the topic with all the pros and cons before creating an opinion about things as important as this one most certainly is.

How Do Solar Panels Actually Work?

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Solar energy has become increasingly popular over the last several years, with a new solar panel getting installed to a home or a business every 2.5 minutes in the US alone. This makes solar power the fastest growing option of generating electricity in the United States.

Solar panels are much more commonly seen now, compared to just a few years ago, and you’ve probably seen plenty mounted next to large factories, along highways, or even close to places like swimming pools and hotels.

You might be considering going solar yourself and reducing your dependence on the electric grid, but before you do, it might be a good idea to learn about how the production of solar energy works. Keep reading to find out.

How do solar panels work to generate electricity?

To answer the question of how solar energy works, we must first deal with how electricity is made in more general terms. To generate electricity, we need some kind of fuel. Most traditional fuels used to create power have a nasty habit of causing severe damage to the environment, both from the process of extracting said fuel and from the process of using it.

For example, a conventional power plant will most commonly use coal. First, we need to get the fuel out of the earth, which means digging into mountains to extract it. This causes damage to the ecosystem and destroys many plants and animals in the process.

Other fuels used by traditional power plants are things like natural gas, which needs to be brought to the surface of the earth and transported through a network of pipes, or uranium, which needs to be contained and handled in rigorous conditions; otherwise, it can cause unspeakable damage. Clearly, obtaining and delivering fuels for the production of electricity is highly labor-intensive and potentially dangerous.

As we utilize fuel to produce energy, the harm continues. As mentioned earlier, nuclear power brings an inherent risk of radioactive poisoning and massive explosions, while fossil fuels like natural gas and coal produce greenhouse gasses and air pollutants.

Solar energy, on the other hand, comes from the bright star that makes life on Earth possible. No dangerous mining, big pipelines, or radioactive materials necessary; all we need is the Sun to keep shining, as it always has, and always will. This infinite resource is clean, safe, and easy to capture, and we’ve been getting better and better at utilizing it as technology evolves.

The photovoltaic effect

You might have heard of the term photovoltaics or PV, as a term to describe solar energy. This term describes the process in which solar panels take sunlight and convert it into electricity. The first part of the word refers to photons – particles of light, while the second part relates to power – voltage. This is the most common type of solar energy and the one that relates to solar panels; although it should be noted that there are other types of solar power such as solar thermal, that is a topic for another day. Using photovoltaics, sunlight is converted into electricity through the use of a relatively simple chemical process, which we will describe below.

Firstly, the process of creating solar power begins when the photons of sunlight fall on a solar panel, after making the journey of around 93 million miles in about eight minutes, traveling at the speed of light from the surface of the Sun. This panel could be sitting alone, or wired together with its brothers and sisters into what we call a solar array.

So, what exactly is a solar panel?

Simply put, it is a form of semiconductor – a plate made of silicon cells containing electrons. Substances like boron and phosphorous are applied to these cells to generate a magnetic field. This results in some cells having a positive charge, and others having a negative charge. The only thing the sunlight does as it shines on the panel is that it destabilizes the electrons within the cells, allowing the flow of the negatively-charged electrons towards the positive side of the solar cell. This is what we refer to as current or discharge of electricity. The renewable energy of this movement is gathered using metal conductors and transferred into wires.

At this point, the electricity we have is called DC, or direct current. Without getting into specifics, what you need to know is that your home appliances require AC – alternating current. This is where a neat little device called a solar converter (or solar inverter) comes into play. Despite its unassuming appearance, without this box, you would not be able to use solar power in your home. Newer inverters do more than just switching the electricity into AC. They manage the whole operation of your solar set-up, making it more independent and efficient.