solar panel installation

31 Jan 2018

Everything You Need To Know About Solar Panels

Have you ever considered installing solar panels in your home? As earth-consciousness increases, and the cost of solar panels decreases, more and more home and business owners are choosing sun-powered energy for their property.

A report published by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) states that “the total U.S. households to have installed solar panels has surpassed 700,000, and that number is rapidly increasing. The first quarter of 2015 broke a record: More than 65,000 solar systems were installed at residential properties in the first three months of the year.”

If you own your home (apologies to the renters!), your roof is in good condition, and you at least 100 square feet of unobstructed roof space, then your home could be a candidate for solar panels. But where to even start? We have put together some of the most pertinent information on installing home solar panels.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

The first question most people have is,”How do solar panels even work?” Solar panels are made up of a few fundamental components. Obviously, there are the actual solar panels, which are constructed of photovoltaic (PV) cells, the purpose of which is to convert sunlight to energy.

An inverter converts solar power from direct current (DC) to the alternating current (AC), which delivers usable electricity into the main fuse box that directs electricity throughout your home. This fuse panel acts as a surge protector, protecting both your home and the batteries by regulating the flow of electrical current.

Lastly, you have the batteries themselves, in order to store the energy generated by the solar panels. These batteries are doubly important for homes or properties in remote locations or that are not “on the grid.” These batteries can be expensive, but are necessary.

Advantages of Solar Panels for Your Home

The biggest and most renowned benefit of using solar panel technology is the opportunity it provides homeowners to help the environment by using a renewable, and clean energy source. Another benefit is that is often overlooked is the fact that most homeowners see an increase in their property value after installing solar panels on their homes.

Disadvantages of Solar Panels for Your Home

Solar energy has many more benefits than the few we already covered, but they are certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution. While solar powers may be a fantastic option for a rural home that has high energy costs, it may not be the most cost-effective solution for homes situated near coal operations, or large hydro-dams. It is also worth noting that installing solar panels may raise your homeowners insurance premiums a few dollars a month too.

For an in-depth look at the pros and cons of solar, click here.

Common Myths About Solar Panels

Solar Panels Are Pricey

Solar panels have actually become less expensive due to a combination of lower production costs, higher output, tax incentives and a variety of ownership options. In addition, time on the market and growing popularity means contractors have become more experienced with installing them, and what used to be a multi-day process has been reduced to hours, further diminishing the expense.

They Require a Lot of Sun

There certainly is no arguing that a solar panel in Southern California will generate more energy than one in Wisconsin, all regions can take advantage of the benefits of solar. Cooler temperatures actually increase the efficiency of solar panels, and they can stand up to snow and heavy winter conditions (though they will need to be cleared off).

It’s All or Nothing

Another common myth homeowners believe is that by going solar, they can only access energy created by their solar panels. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Most residential solar systems are tied to the grid, and reap benefits from it. Depending on how your power company meters electricity, usually energy that your home doesn’t use is funneled back into the power grid, and you are credited for it if you need to tap into the grid for any reason. Sometimes your home may produce surplus energy, and others you may need to “purchase” energy from the grid.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

The total expense of installing solar panels on your home varies substantially, but primarily depends on the size of the system you will need. To get a quick and basic estimate, multiply the the kilowatts of energy your home uses per day by 0.25, which indicates the size of system you’ll need. The expense will also be dependent on whether you choose to buy, lease or use a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Buy

Buying solar panels outright for your home is going to be the largest initial investment, but also gives the highest return on investment and may qualify your home for special tax credits.

Lease

Leasing your solar panels means a reduced or eliminated up front cost, as lease payments are spread out over monthly payments. The leasing company owns the panels, however, so it benefits from any tax credits as opposed to the homeowner. Solar energy has become available to many, however, due to the reduction or elimination of high initial costs.

PPA

A Power Purchase Agreement means that, much like your typical electricity bill, the third-party company is the owner of the system and the homeowner pays only for the electricity that is generated. This setup is also increasing in popularity.

Other Things to Consider

Types of Solar Panels

There are three basic types of solar panels, meaning homeowners can choose the model that best fits their energy needs, budget, and home. Monocrystalline silicon panels are smaller in size and provide the highest return rates on electricity, but are typically the most expensive. Thin film solar panels take up more room on your roof and are less efficient at producing electricity, but are relatively inexpensive. The middle ground in both efficiency and price are polycrystalline silicon panels.

Condition of Your Roof

Solar panels and inverters typically have a warranty of 25 years, so if your roof is aging or in need of upgrading, it is recommended to take care of that before installation of solar panels. Once solar panels have been installed, however, they will extend the life of your roof because they act as shields from the elements.

Installation Costs

With any home improvement project it is wise to contact multiple contractors to get estimates and comparisons, in addition to reading their reviews. (See some of ours here) A comprehensive estimate will be based on relevant factors such as the design of your house and roof, the climate you live in, and the amount of sun exposure. When choosing any professional to work on your home, it is vital to choose one who is licensed, bonded and insured, and who offers a strong warranty.

Why Choose Clarke & Rush?

For over 50 years Clarke & Rush has been helping to keep you and your neighbors comfortable and saving energy with the highest rated customer satisfaction.

  • Industry-leading products and warranties
  • Full-Service Energy Efficiency Contractor
  • Smart Switch Program – Get unbiased professional advice from our energy experts and we’ll develop a smart energy home improvement plan for you. Lower your energy demand and purchase a smaller solar system

Contact us today to find the best solar solutions for your home or business.

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