It’s pretty clear that solar systems are becoming more and more popular as time goes by and that there are more and more people willing to do their part regarding environmental preservation and reducing their own carbon footprint. Now, let’s not pretend that we all decided to go solar only because it was the right thing to do for our planet. The truth is, that’s only one reason, while the other lies in the fact we could save so much money on electricity bills if we were about to have a solar system installed upon our roof. But let’s be clear – there’s nothing wrong with that, on the contrary.
According to statistics, during the previous year, 23 percent of growth has been detected when it comes to the number of residential solar systems being installed. And what’s been pretty obvious by now is that this number will be even higher at the end of 2020. The reason for that huge growth lies in the fact efficiency of solar systems has been drastically improved in the last few years, but also, the cost of solar panels has dropped significantly. So if you are interested in installing solar panels, here is what you need to know and have.
Solar panels for household
Usually, solar systems for home usage will be installed on the roof of your home, and they will convert the sunlight into the electricity you can use to power up your house appliances. Quite often, these solar panels systems are being called PV, as photovoltaic systems.
If you choose your system wisely, and if we are talking about only high-quality solar installations, the roof-mounted solar construction will eliminate or reduce your home’s dependence on the local power grid, and therefore you will be able to save on electricity bills month after month.
We cannot deny that a home solar system is quite an investment, but the truth is it will most definitely pay off, and you will find yourself in a position to count on and use mostly clear and renewable energy that will prolong the lifespan of the planet we all live on.
Now, be aware that we have off-grid and on-grid solar power systems but that most solar systems for the home will remain connected to the grid. The off-grid solar installation is more appropriate for remote areas that have limited access to electricity in general.
Main components of the solar system
In order to understand how exactly the solar system works, you need to know what are its main components and how they work. We are referring to:
- Solar panels
- Solar racking
- Solar inverters
- Solar monitoring system
- Solar storage
You cannot have a solar power system without solar panels. In other words, they are the main part of every solar installation, and when choosing which to buy, you should consider their efficiency rating, quality of the materials they are made of, warranty periods, their price and type.
Residential solar systems are usually based on one of these two types of solar panels – monocrystalline and polycrystalline. There are no huge differences between them, except the fact monocrystalline panels are a bit more expensive and slightly more effective.
Now, how many solar panels you will install and where you are going to place them depends on several factors, like what’s the climate like in the place you live in, do you have enough surface on your roof for solar installation, do you want to generate enough electricity for your entire household’s need or you would like just to cover one part, etc.
That’s something you should consult with a professional installer, but there’s also an option of using an online solar system size calculator. Also, be aware that if you have an extensive capacity solar system, you can probably send a surplus of electricity back to the grid in exchange for credits via net metering.
Even though it looks that way, solar panels aren’t actually attached directly to the roof. They stand on a solar ranking that can be constructed in different ways and in different angles, depending on what’s the desirable position of the panels regarding sun exposure. The racking is mounted on the roof, and solar panels are lying on top of it. This element needs to be built in a good quality manner and to be very durable and sturdy, so you can be sure your solar system won’t be endangered in case of bad weather.
Solar panel systems cannot work without solar inverters. It is a device that has the ability to receive direct current (DC) solar panels generated and to transform it into alternating current (AC) our home appliances are working on. So without it, the power produced by the sun would be useless.
There are three types of inverters – micro inverters, centralized or string inverters, and power optimizers. Microinverters are pretty expensive, and solar systems based on these inverters need to have more than one – each solar panel is connected to one inverter. They will allow your system to work well even if some of the panels do not perform at their maximum at the moment.
The centralized inverters are more affordable, but they can fail to do their job properly, given there’s only one inverter on the whole solar system, regardless of the number of solar panels. And if there’s shading, the whole system could experience production loss. When it comes to power optimizers, they actually optimize the output of DC current, and they need to be installed in each solar panel. The system with power optimizers will need a centralized inverter as well.
Solar monitoring system
If you would like to be familiar with how your system is performing, how much electricity you were provided in the previous period, you should rely on the solar monitoring system. It will be able to show you how much electricity your solar installation was generating per day, per hour, or per year. Also, it will alarm you if there are any changes in the system.
When mentioning solar storage, we are actually talking about solar batteries. There are those that can store and save energy your solar system generated for later on, when you need it, or only overnight until the sun rises again and the system starts working again. They are a very important part of the solar installation because they will enable you to have a fully functional home even when the power is off or when the grid connection is not available. But also, they can keep the excess electricity before you are ready to send it back to the grid and use the net metering services.
The cost of a solar system
The overall cost of your specific solar power system will be determined by several factors, so we cannot speak about this subject in general. The fact is, solar panel systems are not cheap, but another fact is that there is a federal solar tax credit that will deduct 26 percent of the cost that installing a solar system brings from your federal taxes, as well as other solar incentives.
Regarding the calculations, you should know that the average payback period is usually six to seven years, depending on the size of the system, and that most solar panel manufacturers will give you a 25-year long warranty. That means there will be around 18 years where you won’t have to pay a dime for the electricity you are using, or that at least these expenses will be drastically reduced.
Who to trust with your solar system is always a huge question. Because not every installer is a good one, and because the overall performance, as well as the lifespan of the solar system, will depend on the way the system is set up. It can also affect the return on your investment. It is essential your installer is well experienced, licensed, and recommended by a significant number of people.
When you decide it is time for you to start thinking about your future solar system, and you begin to search for the best solar panels, know that three things are crucial in that matter – for them to be reliable, highly efficient and that they are covered with the warranty. The efficiency will show you how much electricity your system can generate per square foot.
The reliability depends on the quality of materials solar panels are made of and the technology they are based on. And finally, the warranty period will let you know for how long you can count on your solar system to provide electricity.