6kWp Residential Solar System, Go Solar Power

All Information You Need to Go Solar Power

Are you looking to reduce electricity bills, decrease your carbon footprint, or fully electrify your home? Going solar is an excellent solution! Installing solar panels is a simple and popular method to increase your home’s value and energy savings.

While solar panels are a wise long-term investment but also a significant purchase; therefore, making an informed decision and feeling confident in your choice is crucial. Our team can help you determine whether solar panels are viable for your home and how to acquire them at the best price.

Do You Know?

  1. Living in a warm or sunny location is not a requirement to benefit from solar energy savings.
  2. Installing solar panels can lead to homeowners saving tens of thousands of dollars.
  3. While solar panels come at a cost, fantastic incentives are available.
  4. The solar equipment that is the most suitable for one homeowner may not be the best fit for another.
  5. There are options to go solar without installing any panels on your property.

The Cost of Solar is Outweighed by the Savings it Brings

Did you know the average U.S. household spends around $1,697 on electricity annually? According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), this amounts to a whopping $57,966 over 25 years (assuming 2.5% annual inflation). But one effective solution to lower, and sometimes even eliminate, these costs is installing a rooftop solar panel system.

In 2023, the average cost of solar panels in the U.S. was $20,650 after accounting for the federal solar tax credit (which we’ll discuss later). On a cost-per-watt basis ($/W), this amounts to about $2.95/W before the tax credit. While this may seem significant, consider the amount you would have spent on electricity otherwise. It’s no surprise that millions of homeowners have opted for solar.

It’s essential to remember that going solar is a long-term investment. Typically, people see a return on their investment in about six years. However, the specific costs and savings will depend on various factors, such as location, electricity usage, and home setup.

Go Solar Power for Your Home? 4 Factors to Keep in Mind

Investing in solar panels can be a wise decision for homeowners, but it’s not suitable for everyone. To make the most of this guide, assessing whether solar is a good fit for you is essential. Solar panels are most beneficial if:

  • You own your property: If you’re renting or part of a homeowners association, it’s crucial to seek permission from the property owner or association before installing a solar system.
  • You have high electricity bills: The more you pay for electricity each month, the quicker you’ll see savings with solar.
  • Your roof is an optimal fit: Solar panels can work on roofs that don’t receive constant sunlight, but your roof needs to meet specific criteria. The ideal roof is south-facing, has a 30 to 45 degrees tilt, has minimal shading throughout the day, and is in good condition. East or west-facing roofs can still benefit from solar, but production may be slightly lower.
  • You can take advantage of incentives: The cost of solar panels depends on the available incentives, which vary based on location and tax liability. You’ll recoup your solar investment sooner if you live in a state with net metering and can use the solar tax credit.

Meeting these criteria makes it likely that solar will be a good fit for your home. However, your home doesn’t need to be a perfect match for solar for you to reap its benefits. With proper installation, many homeowners can still save money.

Key Solar Terms

Understanding solar terminology can be overwhelming, but making informed decisions is critical. To help, we’ve compiled a list of essential terms you should know when reading about solar:

  • Watt (W): This is the unit of measurement for a solar panel’s output and represents the electricity consumption rate.
  • Kilowatt (kW): The size of a home solar panel system is measured in kilowatts, with one kilowatt equaling 1,000 watts.
  • Kilowatt-hour (kWh): Utility bills measure electricity usage in kilowatt-hours, which is electricity consumption over time.
  • Price per watt ($/W): A solar panel system’s cost, based on its size measured in watts.
  • Production ratio: This measures the amount of electricity a solar system can produce in one year (measured in kWh) divided by the size of the system (measured in W). This ratio is affected by weather, climate, and the condition of your solar panel system.
  • Semiconductor: A material that can conduct electricity more than an insulator (like glass) but less than a conductor (like copper). Semiconductors are used widely in electronics, including solar panels.
  • Photovoltaics (PV): Devices that convert solar energy into electricity using semiconductors. This conversion is called the photovoltaic effect.
  • Solar panels are photovoltaics and make up a PV system.
  • Solar module: Another name for a solar panel commonly used in the industry.
  • Solar cells: Semiconductors made of silicon that generate electricity when exposed to photons (particles of light) via the photovoltaic effect. Home solar panels usually contain 60 solar cells.

The Function of Solar Panels

Solar panels use sunlight to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. The solar cells in the panel absorb light and free electrons that are carriers of electricity. These electrons then flow, transferring direct current (DC) electricity through metal plates on the sides of each solar cell to wires. The DC electricity is then converted into alternating current (AC) electricity by inverters, which is the type of electricity that most household appliances use. This enables your solar panels to produce solar energy for your home.

Are Solar Panels a Wise Investment?

If you’re wondering whether or not solar panels are a wise investment, it’s essential to evaluate if they’re a good fit for your needs. While going solar can have benefits, it’s a decision that requires careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages.

Why solar energy is a smart choice for homeowners

Firstly, you can save a significant amount of money on electricity bills. On average, homeowners can save between $20,000 and $97,000 throughout the lifespan of their solar panel system by avoiding electricity costs. Additionally, using solar energy to power appliances like heating and cooling systems, cars, and cooktops can reduce other energy bills.

Secondly, according to studies, solar panels can increase the value of your home by an average of 4%.

Lastly, using solar energy can help to reduce your carbon footprint. Unlike fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, solar power does not release carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

Solar energy may not be the best fit for everyone

Firstly, it typically takes around 8-9 years for EnergySage customers to save enough on their electricity bills to cover the costs of their solar panel system. However, specific financing options, such as $0-down loans, can help you start saving from day one.

Secondly, solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity so they won’t work at night or during harsh weather conditions. Nevertheless, you can combine your solar panels with a battery backup system to store the excess electricity produced during the day for later use. However, it’s important to remember that adding a battery to your system will increase its overall cost.

Lastly, it’s worth considering that most solar panels end up in landfills in the United States due to the limited availability of solar panel recycling. Although companies like We Recycle Solar are working on improving solar panel recycling, these solutions haven’t been widely adopted.

Excellent Incentives for Solar Panels

You may have come across advertisements for “free solar panels” while searching for them. However, these claims can be misleading. They usually refer to solar leases and power purchase agreements, which allow you to use solar panels without investing upfront but won’t make you their owner. Therefore, there is no such thing as free solar panels.

Nevertheless, various government incentives can help you get your money back from your solar power system. These incentives can either lower your solar installation costs or increase your savings in the long run. Here are some of the best solar incentives you can avail yourself of:

Federal investment tax credit

One of the most favorable incentives for solar energy today is the federal investment tax credit (ITC). This incentive allows you to receive a credit of 30% of the upfront cost of your solar system, which can be applied toward your federal tax bill. It differs from a tax deduction, which only lowers your taxable income. If you have paid more taxes than required throughout the year, you can get a refund through the ITC if it does not surpass your overall tax liability. Any remaining credit will be carried over to the following year if it exceeds your tax liability.

Net metering

During sunny days, your solar panel system may generate more electricity than you require. Fortunately, some states implement a solar policy known as net metering, wherein your local utility company will provide you credits for the surplus electricity you supply to the grid. In times when your panels don’t produce enough energy, like at night or on a rainy day, you’ll obtain electricity from the grid, which will be deducted from the credits you’ve accumulated. At the end of your billing period, you’ll only be charged for your net energy consumption, which means that your electric bills may amount to $0!

State and local incentives

Did you know many states offer extra incentives to encourage people to switch to solar energy? For example, your condition may give you a tax credit similar to the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that applies to your state taxes. You might also be eligible for an upfront rebate when you install your solar panel system. Additionally, if your state has a renewable portfolio standard, you could earn money by selling solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) for the electricity your solar panels generate. Homeowners can make one SREC for every megawatt-hour (MWh), or 1,000 kWh, of electricity their solar panel system produces.

Guide on How to Pay for Solar Power Installation

If you’re considering investing in solar energy for your home, it’s essential to understand that your eligibility for incentives depends on your system ownership. Financing through a solar lease or power purchase agreement may cause you to miss out on some of the most attractive incentives, such as the ITC, state tax credits, rebates, or SRECs. To ensure you receive the best benefits available, consider the following three options for paying for your solar panel system:

Cash

If you have the means, paying for your solar system outright can lead to significant long-term savings. This approach allows you to avoid interest charges and origination, dealer, and closing costs, all of which can accumulate quickly. Nonetheless, not all homeowners have the cash to make this purchase. On average, it takes around six years for electric bill savings to offset the total cost of the solar panel system.

Solar loan

Most people choose to finance their solar panel systems with a solar loan: You’ll still qualify for incentives, and you could start saving on day one if your monthly loan payments are less than your previous electric bills. Today, many companies offer $0-down loans, so you won’t owe anything upfront. Overall, your savings will be lower than if you pay with cash, but using a solar loan makes it much easier for most people to go solar.

Solar lease or PPA

Installing solar panels through leases and PPAs was a popular option, but it has become less appealing to homeowners due to the availability of better solar loan options. Choosing these financing options means you won’t own the solar system, which disqualifies you from some of the best solar incentives.

When you opt for a solar lease, you agree to pay a fixed monthly payment, while with a PPA, you agree to pay for the power generated by your system at a set price per kWh. However, the savings you can get from these options are generally lower. Additionally, these financing options may make it difficult to sell your home if the new owner isn’t willing to take over the payments.

Choose the Most Suitable Solar Panels for Your Home

Remember that what works for your neighbor might not fit you best. However, certain crucial factors can aid you in comparing your options:

The Type of Solar Panels

When researching solar panels, you may come across monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels have cells made of a single silicon crystal that is typically black and more efficient. Polycrystalline panels have cells made of multiple silicon crystals melted together, are generally blue, and are more affordable.

Power output

The power output of a solar panel, also known as its wattage, measures the amount of DC electricity it produces under standard test conditions before being converted into usable AC electricity by the inverter. Generally, the higher the power output, the more electricity the panel generates. Residential or commercial solar panels typically range from 200 to 550 W. As of 2023, the most common power output range quoted is between 400 and 420W.

Efficiency

The ability of your solar panel to convert sunlight into usable electricity is measured by its efficiency. A higher efficiency implies more electricity production. Solar panels have an efficiency range of around 17% to 22%, but several popular models on Couleenergy have efficiency ratings exceeding 22%. Couleenergy installers offer HJT solar panels, which are the most efficient, with an efficiency rating of 22.8%.

Temperature coefficient

Solar panels operate at their optimal level when they are kept cool, much like other electronic devices. The performance of a solar panel is measured by its temperature coefficient, which determines the amount of power output reduction as the surrounding temperature increases. For every degree above 25°C (77°F), the solar production of the panel will decrease by its temperature coefficient. For instance, if the temperature coefficient of your panel is -0.26%/°C and the temperature rises from 25°C (77°F) to 26°C (79°F), the electricity production will decrease by 0.26%. A lower temperature coefficient indicates better solar panel performance on hot and sunny days.

Lifespan & warranty

When investing in solar panels, it is essential to ensure their longevity. While most solar panels have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, selecting a model with a full warranty is the best way to guarantee their long-term performance.

Typically, a solar panel warranty comprises two crucial components. Firstly, the product or materials warranty assures that the manufacturer will replace your panel if it fails within a specified warranty term due to manufacturing defects. Secondly, the performance or power warranty guarantees that your panels will still produce a certain percentage of their output at the end of the limited warranty term. Other factors that indicate the strength of a solar panel warranty include labor coverage, shipping overage, and the company’s bankability (i.e., how likely they are to fulfill your warranty).

What are Solar Shingles?

If you’re one of the homeowners who prioritize aesthetics, you might want to consider solar shingles or tiles, also known as building-integrated photovoltaics or BIPVs. These options, like the Tesla Solar Roof, can blend seamlessly with your roofing while still harnessing the sun’s power. However, weighing each option’s pros and cons is essential before deciding between solar shingles and solar panels.

Considering solar energy options, it’s important to note that solar shingles may cost more than solar panels due to their uncommonness and labor-intensive installation. While some manufacturers claim their durability is superior, this has yet to be proven. Additionally, solar shingles may be less efficient and produce less power due to their low profile design limiting airflow.

It’s worth noting that solar shingles may be the best option for those needing a roof replacement, as they provide both a new and more durable roof and solar energy. However, if you have a large roof with ample space for many solar shingles, this may not be as big of an issue. Ultimately, the decision between solar panels and shingles should be based on individual needs and preferences.

How Many Solar Panels?

Determining the optimal amount of solar panels for your home requires consideration of various factors such as your energy consumption, panel power output, and location. On average, homeowners typically require between 17 and 21 solar panels to meet their energy needs.

To calculate the number of panels necessary for your home, you can use the formula: Number of panels = System size/Production ratio (as defined above) / Panel power output.

Solar Inverter

When setting up a solar power system, it’s important to consider not only the solar panels but also the inverter’s role in maximizing productivity. Inverters convert DC electricity from the solar panels into usable AC electricity. You have three primary options to choose from: string inverters, microinverters, and optimized string inverters.

How to Go Off-grid?

It is possible to power your home independently from the grid once you switch to solar. However, to do so, you will need to install a battery or a solar generator to store excess energy when the sun isn’t shining. Using batteries is an excellent way to increase energy independence and decrease reliance on fossil fuels. Nevertheless, most homeowners still prefer to retain their connection to the grid because the cost of adding enough solar batteries to power their homes is often high.

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