The traditional ways of generating power – such as coal, gas, oil, and other fossil fuels or hydroelectric dams – are slowly becoming obsolete. They produce byproducts that pollute the air and make global warming worse. Additionally, water sources are drying up in areas like the Western United States, so we can no longer rely on them for power either.
You have the potential to produce more power than you receive from your traditional utility company, regardless of whether you’re a homeowner, business owner or renter. Many renewable resources – such as solar energy – exist that can provide equal or greater amounts of power. The following guide will go over the benefits of solar energy in more detail.
Solar energy is “sustainable, renewable, and abundant,” according to the US Department of Energy. What are the advantages of solar power and related technologies like photovoltaic cells? Continue reading to learn more about how you may profit from solar radiation:
It’s Time to Reconsider Geography
In the past, experts advised customers that solar panels had little value in areas with mostly overcast skies all year and were essentially useless in cold climates during winter months. However, new solar panels have been created to take advantage of any amount of light available. As a consequence, even if the panels do not get direct sunlight, you may profit from these technologies.
For example, solar panels can be used during winter on sunny or partially sunny days to charge a whole-home backup battery. This way, you have a backup power source in case of a regular power grid outage. In rainy areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, solar power can actually be used on sunny days instead of the grid and any remainder that is generated can be sold back to the traditional utility. This offsets your grid-based electric bills for those times when you can’t rely on the panels.
Solar Panels are a Great Investment
Eventually, the savings on your power bill make solar panels worth any initial investment or maintenance costs. Every month, you can lower utility bills by around $1,500 annually just by using solar to provide electricity instead of being directly grid-reliant. On days where it’s warm and sunny outside, you can primarily use your solar panels for energy; however, if it’s overcast or cold , you can still resort back to the grid–as long as you’re not entirely disconnected from it.
In addition to the environmental benefits, solar panels also offer a lot of other financial returns:
- You may sell your excess solar energy to a utility provider in a solar buyback or net metering arrangement, as previously stated. Every month, the firm installs a smart meter on your system and deducts the amount they pay for surplus power from your grid utility bill balance. If you don’t use the grid but still supply extra power, they’ll send you a payment.
- There are numerous federal and state programs that offer rebates and other incentives for home and business owners who invest in solar panels. For example, the federal solar tax credit allows 26% of the cost of installation to be deducted from your taxes in 2022, and 22% in 2023.
- Solar panels are now a valuable asset for modern property buyers and sellers. Energy.gov reports that according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study, solar panels raise home value by no less than $15,000. If you’re selling your home or business property, you can thus expect to make significantly more money from the sale if the building includes solar paneling.
- Not only do solar panels save you money on your utility bill, but insurance companies also offer discounts to those who have them. This is because they are seen as an environmentally conscious investment. The size of the discount varies from company to company, but it typically ranges from 1-5% of your total premium.
Solar Energy Systems Benefit the Environment
Although renewable energy is crucial to slowing down climate change, the process of creating solar panels also causes greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. The industrial processes required for making parts and assembling solar panels use water and generate harmful byproducts like heavy metals and fine particulates. Furthermore, when finished products ship, they often require additional transportation via fossil fuels like gasoline in trucks.
Solar panels, like other renewable energies, produce far fewer air pollutants after they’re installed on or near a home or business than conventional power sources do. Instead, during their typical existence, they drastically cut hazardous emissions.
Solar panels can last 30 years or more if properly maintained by a homeowner, and whole-home batteries can survive 10 to 20 years. These technologies compensate for the pollution produced by a single home or business if connected to traditional power plants or on-site fossil fuel equipment like oil furnaces and portable gas-powered generators over time. Because they do not have to be replaced for months at a time, they contribute less to the local and global environmental pollution problem than other technologies that must be changed more frequently.
Solar Panels are Low-Maintenance
Solar panels are made of glass and polycrystalline silicon (PCS), both of which are highly scratch-resistant. Long-lasting solar panel manufacturers create their products to be as durable as possible while still being resistant to scratches and impacts. After all, one of the most appealing aspects of utilizing solar technology is its longevity. Solar panels must resist a variety of weather conditions, including high winds, heavy rain, hail, snow or dust storms, and flying debris impacts.
To keep your solar panels in tiptop shape, you usually only need to wipe away any dust or debris that’s blocking the internal photovoltaic cells from collecting sunlight. Do this with some soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge tool, rinse it with a hose, and then let the air dry in the sun. If there are tough stains, use a manufacturer-approved cleaner before lightly rubbing it off.
If your solar panels require small or major repairs over their lifespan, and if you own the system, they’ll almost certainly be covered by very long warranties. Unlike other energy-generation devices such as furnaces and portable generators, the guarantees on these panels extend beyond limited parts coverage. The only components not usually protected for as long as the solar cells are the DC to AC power conversion inverters that convert direct current to alternating current.
Depending on the size and type of system, a skilled installer may provide their own operations and maintenance plans for solar energy systems. These plans usually include the expense of yearly inspections and repairs. If you decide to lease a system, make sure the inspection, repairs, and parts replacement expenses are included in the contract.
Important Investment Considerations
While solar energy technology has many advantages, it also has disadvantages. Solar panels may provide you with a variety of benefits, but the amount and intensity of those benefits varies according to a variety of circumstances. Before you invest in solar energy systems, you should research and analyze your situation carefully to ensure that you understand the following:
Solar technology is most effective when there is direct exposure to sunlight. However, you can still benefit from it on cloudy days. The best way to maximize benefits and offset the initial costs of solar panels is through higher usage with direct sun exposure. Make sure that you have a good spot on your property to take advantage of maximum light during peak sunlight hours for optimal results.
You’ll also need to make sure you have enough room for the necessary number and size of panels in order to generate enough power. You must also ensure that you have adequate area for the rest of the system, including any attachments, outside and inside the building, as well as any other associated technologies installed outside or within the structure. Evaluation of space is dependent on a variety of factors, including any neighborhood restrictions on solar installation, as seen with HOAs, and any tree removal costs.
Solar panels are a great way to save money, but if you’re placing them on an older home, make sure the roof can handle it first. Installing and then removing solar panels because the roof can’t support them is an avoidable cost. On newer homes, there’s no need to worry about this issue.
Make sure to pay attention to your average monthly electricity consumption as noted in kilowatts per hour (kWh) on your electric bill. This will come in handy when you’re searching for a new solar panel product and need to compare it against your current grid usage. You can usually find these details easily enough on the back of most electric bills.
You may discover that you can save more by paying for grid electricity than the expense of purchasing a system that suits your energy usage requirements. If this occurs, compare upfront purchase prices to leases. Many businesses now provide solar panel lease alternatives, lowering costs so you may save enough money to make an investment buy.
If you can’t afford to install solar equipment on your own, you could consider investing in a community or collaborative solar system or a solarize negotiation scheme. You’ll pay a lower price for a neighborhood-level system that connects to the community power lines and pays an additional monthly charge for your solar energy usage if you opt for a shared system. You and your neighbors or community members may negotiate a community-level agreement for the installation of systems at a bulk purchase price through a solarize negotiation scheme.
Top Questions to Ask a Solar Energy Tech Professional
Solar panels and associated energy technologies can help you save money for years. When looking to choose the best solar panel system for your unique situation, don’t just look at manufacturers and goods. You must also ensure that you’re working with the most competent installer.
These questions can help you find a reliable professional who will provide excellent service today and in the years ahead:
- What is the number of your business license?
- For how many years have you been completing installations in this area?
- Have you ever sold or installed a solar panel system?
- Do you have your North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)certificate?
- Do you have state-approved licenses for electrical and general contractors?
- Are you properly bonded and insured?
- Do you have prior or testimonials from previous clients?
- Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?
- Are there any current court cases, investigations or other complaints against your company?
- Do you know how to acquire local construction permits for the installation of your product?
- Do you have prior experience dealing with the utility provider and are familiar with the proper interconnection procedures?
- How much money and time do you think it would cost to handle this request from start to finish? This includes the price of installation, equipment like panels and other tools, building permits, grid connection, sales tax, as well as any warranties or plans for repair and maintenance.
- What is the maximum power generation capacity of the system in watts and kilowatts?
- What is the system’s energy production estimate in kilowatt-hours each month and every year, taking into account all of its components?
- Is the warranty term in writing?
If the installer relies on subcontractors for any part of your winterization process, you should ask those same questions about their qualifications. This goes beyond just inquiring about their work experience and skills; it’s essential to understand if they have a solid grasp of proper installation techniques too.
- What kind of supervision or oversight do you provide while they work?
- What type of guarantee or warranty do you provide if the work is unsatisfactory?
In order to accurately compare various quotes from installers, be sure to request the minimum amount of information listed below. This way, you can ensure that your decision is based on more than just price. In addition to makes/models and number of panels, a qualified solar company should also recommend standard or smart systems that fit your needs as well as estimates for energy generation in kilowatt-hours. They should provide the make/model of the inverter and associated equipment, including information about mobile remote apps.
They should also offer a diagram or photo of their proposed layout for the panels along with estimated utility rate increase and solar savings differences over time, and lastly, estimated solar and utility costs over time. If you’re interested in a whole-house backup battery, be sure to get photographs, models/ makes, characteristics and price estimates.