Everything You Need to Know About Solar Energy in the Home

Solar energy and its benefits have increasingly grown over the last decade. Solar energy can provide savings on energy bills as well as reducing the carbon footprint. As with any newer technology, it can also be confusing, with one statement about solar power often contradicting the other. More homeowners are considering switching to solar energy in their home because of the tax credits offered for its use as well as the lowered costs of installation. However, understanding solar energy and how you can include it in your home will require you to trace the light from the solar arrays straight into your wallet and to understand how you can set up your solar energy to realize the best savings. Solar energy is not really a “new” technology as human beings have been harnessing the power of the sun for generations. However, the new technology has allowed homeowners to take it to the next level. The following offers you a basic understanding of how solar power works in a home, the benefits of adding solar power and how you can go about adding solar power into your house.

Basic Solar Power 101

Solar panels house a collection of “cells.” You may have seen these types of cells (although miniaturized) in a solar powered calculator. These panels are fixed onto the roof with racks to take maximum advantage of the sun’s position in relation to your home. The installation process, itself, usually takes only a few hours. Solar energy is created when the cells inside the panels heat up and convert the sun’s energy into electricity. A component called an inverter takes this electricity and makes it into alternating current, which is what most houses need. This inverter sends the converted electricity to your electrical panel. Many times, your house will generate more energy that it consumes, which in some jurisdictions the power company will buy back from you. A good solar power company will offer you an estimate on how much power your system will produce based on the factors in your area, including the angle of your roof.

Solar Energy is Clean and Quiet

Unlike other types of energy that is used to power a home, solar power does not produce pollution or emit carbon dioxide. Additionally, the inclusion of the average solar panels on homes have a minimal impact on the surrounding environment. The other benefit, and one that is not often mentioned, is the fact that solar power is extremely quiet. The components involved in the production of the solar energy make little to no noise, which also creates a quieter environment for homeowners.

Adding Solar Energy into Your Home

If you would like to consider adding solar energy to your home but are not exactly sure what the first steps are, you should consider that there are at least three main ways that solar energy can be utilized. First, you can purchase the solar arrays, have them and the inverter installed, work out the agreement with the local power company, and that is all it takes. The other way is to lease a solar array from companies that offer this service. This allows you to see if you like using the solar panels without committing to the purchase of them. During the time in which you lease them, the company takes care of the maintenance. The last way, which is not always offered in all locations, is a power purchase agreement, which means that you allow the company to place the panels on your roof and you pay for the energy you use. Energy that is produced beyond what you actually use, the company sells and makes a profit.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Solar Power

Consider where you live. In many places in the U.S. the sun does not shine as much as it might in others. For example, solar panels may not be as useful to someone living in Seattle as it would to someone living in Florida. Additionally, solar panels cannot collect power at night, so you would end up using some of the power from the electrical company during that time (though many solar power arrays do have batteries that can store a certain amount of power). While other countries outstrip the U.S. in terms of its use of solar power, the U.S. has begun to move in the same direction. In Europe, for example, the cost of solar power is the same as purchasing power from the electric company.

Currently, those who wish to purchase their solar power equipment outright are looking at a $15,000-$20,000 price tag. The federal government currently offers a tax credit worth 30 percent of the amount paid for a solar system. This means that if the bill is approximately $15,000, at least $4,500 would be offered as a tax credit. If you are considering purchasing, you must also consider that solar panels and inverters last for decades, so if your roof is going to be replaced within the next 10 to 20 years, you may want to consider having that done first.

Regardless of which setup you go with, each solar system and its setup will be unique to your home and situation. What you need to consider is the amount of savings that you anticipate having once the arrays have been installed. What will you power with the array? Some opt for just powering a hot water heater, while others power their entire home.