Already considering going solar? It's a great idea.
Solar panel technology has made leaps and bounds in the past decades. These systems are becoming much easier to install and maintain. and they have significantly reduced costs. So there's never been a better time to go solar.
As a homeowner, you can look forward to savings on electric bills, upfront tax credits, and long-term returns. They can even generate excess power - you can sell it back to your utility!
Still have questions? Don't worry we have the answers to the most common questions about residential solar systems. So read on.
How Do Residential Solar Systems Work?
Residential solar systems capture the energy of the sun and convert this energy into electricity. Solar energy is converted into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells, often referred to as solar panels.
A single solar cell produces only a small amount of electricity. This is then combined and collected to create the desired amount of energy.
The efficiency of a solar panel depends on its design and the material used. You can use solar shingles instead of traditional solar panel systems. And you can also use a solar tracker to ensure maximum light capture.
The electricity produced by solar energy can directly power home systems, or you can store it in batteries for later use. To maximize efficiency, systems are usually installed in areas that receive direct sunlight for long periods.
When properly installed and maintained, residential solar systems provide renewable energy. This reduces the demand for electrical power from traditional utility companies. And it can save homeowners money.
What Are the Different Types of Solar Panels?
Solar panels come in a variety of types, each with its applicable uses and benefits. Listed below are the three of its main types so you can decide on the right solar panels for you:
Monocrystalline compose of a single sheet of silicon cut into thin strips and laid in a frame. This creates small cells engraved with metal contacts, making it one of the most efficient types of solar panels.
These solar panels produce the most electricity compared to other types. So it makes them the most cost-effective solution for residential and commercial use. Their production process requires the fewest resources, resulting in the smallest environmental impact.
They also tend to have a longer life span and occupy less physical space. So they are the ideal choice for all kinds of applications. However, monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive than other types of solar panels.
Polycrystalline panels are fragments of silicon fragments put together in a grid-like structure. They offer a cost-effective solution and are suitable for both off-grid and rooftop solar installations.
Compared to monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels are typically the least efficient. However, frames used for the panels are usually metallic, making them more durable than other types of solar panels.
Additionally, these solar panels have a greater tolerance for high temperatures. So they are more suitable for locations with intense heat.
Thin-film cells are one of the types of solar panels available on the market today. They use a thin film of photovoltaic material deposited onto a substrate to produce the photovoltaic effect. These solar cells are not as efficient, but they offer a more cost-effective solution for residential areas.
They are suitable for smaller installations which you can integrate into existing structures. Thin-film cells are also lightweight and highly flexible, meaning they can lean on a wide range of materials or surface areas. These panels can also tolerate high temperatures and low-light conditions better than other types of solar cells.
How Much Do They Cost to Install?
Residential solar systems can range from $15,000 to $35,000 depending on the size of the system and your location. But even though the upfront residential solar system cost can seem high, in most states the price for installation is offset by federal and state tax credits. And there are also local solar incentives, which all lower the cost dramatically.
On top of that, by investing in solar energy you’re also investing in energy savings over the long term. Most solar systems can pay for themselves and start producing even more savings after just a few months of generating clean energy. So you can immediately reduce energy bills.
How Much Space Would They Take?
Solar panels require unobstructed sunlight for optimal efficiency. So depending on the system, you can expect to need at least 100 square feet of space for an average system.
The amount of space you will need can vary significantly depending on how much energy you’re looking to produce. You may need to move or reconfigure items or plants on your property to maximize the efficiency of the system or to fit larger solar panel arrays.
When Is the Right Time to Install?
The answer depends on a variety of factors. The most important factor is the energy needs of the homeowner or business.
If you want to maximize energy cost savings, the best time to install solar systems is in the spring or fall when temperatures are mild. This ensures that your solar system will be able to generate the most energy concerning the weather conditions.
Additionally, many utility companies offer incentives in the form of rebates or discounts. It’s important to look into these offers and factor them into the solar installation schedule.
Do They Require Permits?
Most residential solar systems do require permits as each jurisdiction has different rules. In most cases, you must obtain a building permit and also complete any local zoning requirements. You must also submit a site plan and provide assessments of the solar system’s electrical and structural components.
Depending on the jurisdiction, you may need to include a solar energy system disclosure statement in the paperwork. You may also need engineering diagrams to show that your proposed system meets their requirements. So it's important to research the laws in your area, as some places have more restrictive requirements.
Additionally, you likely need to obtain an interconnection permit from your utility company. This can allow you to connect the solar system to the grid and allows you to receive credit for excess energy produced by the system.
What Are the Tax Credits Available?
The Federal Solar Tax Credit allows qualified owners to deduct up to 30% of the installation cost from their federal income taxes. This credit does not exclude any part of the system such as the solar panels and inverters. It also covers associated labor and site preparation and requires permits for installation.
Do note that this credit does not apply to batteries or other energy storage devices for paired solar energy systems. But it does apply to solar water-heating and solar space-heating systems, and any passive solar energy building designs.
In many states, there are additional also credits available from the state or utility companies. This can offset the cost of solar substantially. So it is always advisable to check with your state’s solar initiatives and programs to ensure that you take advantage of every credit available.
What Are the Benefits of Going Solar?
The most obvious benefit of solar energy is that it is an alternative to traditional energy sources. It can greatly reduce energy costs.
By utilizing a renewable resource like the sun, you can also reduce your carbon emissions which are a major contributor to global warming. You can use solar energy to generate electricity, heat, and hot water without relying on finite resources.
Finally, residential solar panels are a quiet and reliable form of energy that can ease your stress. Investing in a residential solar system can help reduce monthly energy bills. And it can ensure a more environmentally friendly home.
What Maintenance Is Necessary?
When it comes to residential solar systems, maintenance is minimal. Most maintenance required is to keep the solar panels clean and free of items that can block sunlight from reaching the surface of the panels. You can do this once or twice a year depending on the location of the system.
Additionally, it is important to check the solar system wiring and connections periodically. This is so you can ensure that batteries are adequately charged and you can check for any potential problems.
Lastly, it may be beneficial to inspect the roof and surrounding area. Look for any damage that may have occurred over time due to weather conditions or other circumstances. If necessary, you can contact professional solar installers but this is rarely the case.
Are They Compatible With Other Renewable Energy Sources?
Residential solar panels are compatible with other renewable energy sources. "Net metering" is a process in which unused solar energy is generated from a residential solar system. Then, homeowners send this unused energy to the grid, which uses it to power other homes or businesses.
On top of this, solar systems may also have a connection to your home battery storage for further potential energy efficiency. Residential solar systems can also be used in conjunction with other renewable energy resources. This can include wind turbines, geothermal systems, and more.
There are even befits of using many sources of energy. Your home can enjoy energy diversification and improved efficiency. And in the event of cloudy days or lack of wind, other renewable sources can fill the gap in your home’s energy needs.
How Long Will They Last?
Solar panels on residential household roofs have an expected life cycle of around 20 to 30 years. With technological advances, new solar systems can function even longer.
However, technology is not the only factor in their lifetime. Temperature, weather, and debris can all cause wear and tear on the panels, decreasing their life cycle. Fortunately, panels can withstand whatever Mother Nature can throw at them.
In addition, each panel is usually backed by a warranty that guarantees the product will perform as expected. Just make sure that the system is regularly inspected by a competent solar power technician to ensure its operation is at an optimum level. Long story short, with proper maintenance and care, residential solar systems will keep on working for many years to come.
How Do They Affect a Home’s Value?
Residential solar systems have a tremendous effect on the value of a home. Studies have shown that the average installed system will add about 4.1% in value to the home. This increase in value is even more significant if it is a newer system with the latest technologies.
So installing panels can be an appealing investment for homeowners who are considering selling their homes. The resale value will increase substantially.
But ultimately, the value of a home is largely dependent on the condition of the solar system. So it's still important to do regular maintenance on them to keep them in top condition. This way, you can maximize the return on your investment.
Can Solar Panels Be Recycled?
Yes, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can be recycled. Solar panels are composed of a variety of materials, such as glass, metals, and plastics. The metals used in the panels, such as copper, aluminum, and stainless steel, are all recyclable.
Other components, such as plastic frames, for example, are recyclable as well. The recycling process helps to reduce the amount of energy used in manufacturing the panels.
Many companies now specialize in solar panel recycling, resulting in the reuse of many of the components. This process is beneficial for both the environment and the economy. It reduces pollution and provides recyclable materials for new solar panel production.
Residential Solar Systems Are a Great Addition to Any Home
Residential solar systems provide great value to homeowners. They are becoming more accessible and affordable. And with all the answers above, we hope that you can make an informed decision and reap the rewards of solar power.
If you would like more information on installing a solar system in your home, contact a local certified installer today to learn more. Start your journey by going green as soon as possible!
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