Why Do Solar Panels Cost So Much?

People are often surprised by the high costs when they install solar panels for their homes. After all, the price of the panels themselves is sometimes just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much residential solar power systems cost. Depending on where you live, which company you purchase your solar power system from, and other variables, you may have to make a significant investment that costs more than the actual solar panels themselves.

Why are solar panels so expensive? One of the reasons for the high costs is that solar installers sometimes bundle in other expenses to cover their marketing, labor, and overhead. You can avoid these high costs by comparing bids from multiple companies and choosing a company that keeps the additional charges to an absolute minimum.

The Condition of Your Roof Matters

However, we will note that sometimes these added costs are justified and necessary. For instance, the condition of your roof plays a significant role. If your roof requires any repairs, you’ll need to complete these before installing your solar panels. Furthermore, if you have a roof with an especially steep angle or several different levels, it can be much more difficult to install your panels as opposed to a structure with a “typical” roof.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors like trees and landscaping can make an impact as well, as can the quality of the existing electrical wiring in your home. Making sure your roof is accessible and your electric system is up to code goes a long way toward mitigating these extra expenses.

Where You Live

There are many other variables that affect the cost of solar panels for the home. One of the most impactful factors is your location. Different parts of the country receive differing amounts of sunlight on a typical day, which can dramatically increase or decrease the efficiency of your solar installation.

Solar panels, in some parts of the Pacific Northwest, will only receive around four hours of direct sunlight per day, while some areas in the American Southwest get eight hours or more. The less direct sunlight your panels receive per day, the more panels you need to power your home.

Solar Panel Quality

Another variable is the quality of the solar panels you purchase. Of course, higher-quality panels will cost more up-front, and you can save quite a bit of money on initial setup costs if you opt for less durable panels. However, this is a double-edged sword. The money you save up-front on cheaper solar panels will likely come back to bite you in the long run, as those panels degrade faster than more expensive ones.

Solar Incentives Influence Overall Cost

Solar panels can also be much more expensive if you live in an area without sufficient solar incentives. The federal solar investment tax credit will expire in 2022, meaning the 22% deduction homeowners enjoy for solar installations in 2021 is on its way out. Beyond that, it all comes down to the solar incentives offered by your individual state, and those vary considerably depending on where you live.

Choosing to Buy or Lease Solar Panels

Whether you buy or lease your solar panels can play a major role in how much solar panels for your house cost. Buying your solar power system up-front requires a significantly higher initial investment, but it also means that you’ll enjoy more robust savings down the line.

LGCY Power Is Here to Help

As you can see, there are quite a few layers involved when answering the question of how much residential solar panels cost. If you need some help figuring out how much solar panels for your home will cost, feel free to contact one of our LGCY Power Energy Consultants at your convenience. Our expert representatives can walk you through every expense involved with residential solar panel installations to help you determine the most cost-effective plan for you.

5 Facts About Solar Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

Have you considered going solar at home?

Just look around your neighborhood and you’ll see that more and more homes have solar panels on their roofs. But if you’re still using expensive and inefficient traditional utilities, you may not realize that solar power is actually the fastest growing form of clean energy in the world.

Don’t worry—we have plenty of fun facts about solar energy so you can impress your friends and neighbors!

Today, let’s start with these five interesting facts about solar energy:

Going solar really helps our environment and health.

Going solar and breaking our dependence on archaic fossil fuels brings a host of environmental benefits.

For instance, did you know that by curbing pollution, it’s projected that solar power can reduce our health and environmental costs by $167 billion each year? Solar also reduces water scarcity, saving enough water to provide for 1.3 million households annually. Finally, by going solar we could save $259 billion in damages directly linked to climate change just this year.

From the globe to your neighborhood, solar helps clean up the environment, which benefits us all.

Solar saves you a LOT of money – starting from day ONE.

These days, it’s more important than ever for the typical family to save money, and our power bills really add up. In fact, the average household drops $173 per month on their utility bills, including electric, and that could go way higher for bigger homes and in warm weather months.

By partnering with the top solar installers and utilizing only state-of-the-art technology, most homeowners begin saving the day they flip the switch. When we’re talking fun facts about solar energy, one of the most important aspects is the savings, all starting when you flip the switch on your brand-new solar system.

Installation is smooth and easy.

Solar is more affordable and saves you more than ever, and the installation process has never been easier. LGCY Power assigns you a dedicated Solar Consultant, who is like your personal solar concierge, leading you through the process, and handling all of the paperwork. LGCY even manages the permits, goes over options, and coordinates the installation.

Homeowners can even opt for maintenance and monitoring services, so going solar at home is not only one of the smartest choices you’ve ever made, but an enjoyable experience.

Renewable energy sources like solar will dominate by 2050.

The solar revolution is here, and it’s set to change the world over the next few decades. In fact, renewable energy sources like wind and especially solar are set to replace the majority of fossil fuels by 2050. (To put that growth in perspective, in 2015, wind and solar made up only seven percent of our global energy usage.)

There are many reasons for this dramatic increase, including improved technology, battery capacity, and infrastructure, but the bottom line is that fossil fuels are just getting more expensive. At the same time, it’s finally dawning on people how cheap, clean, and easy it is to tap into the power of the sun.

Now when your friends ask you, “What are some interesting facts about solar energy?” you’ll be ready!

Contact LGCY Power if you have any questions or for a complimentary solar assessment.

The History of Solar Energy

Solar energy provides clean, inexpensive energy for more Americans than ever before, with LGCY Power at the forefront of helping homeowners who want to save. But to understand where we’re going, it’s also important to understand the history of solar energy.

So, if you’ve ever wondered, “What is the history of solar energy?” read on!

The power of the sun was first harnessed by human beings in the 7th century B.C., when primitive magnifying glasses were used to light fires.

By the 3rd century B.C., the Romans and Greeks used mirrors to magnify the sun and light their torches used in religious ceremonies. These “burning mirrors” became commonplace, with a record of this newest solar “technology” even in Chinese civilizations.

In the 1500s, the iconic Italian technologist Leonardo da Vinci envisioned large concave mirrors to heat buildings and homes, which he sketched like so many other inventions.

Around that time, wealthy Europeans started having sunrooms or early green houses built to provide solar heat and grow exotic fruits that otherwise wouldn’t thrive in that climate.

The Birth of Modern Solar Energy

But it’s not until 1839 when we see the birth of modern solar energy. It was then that a prodigious young French scientist named Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect, a chemical and physical process where current or voltage is generated when a material is exposed to sunlight.

By the 1860s, a French mathematician named Augustin Mouchot registered the first patents for solar-powered engines, although they were far from usable in everyday life.

In 1873, the mineral selenium came to the forefront of solar power’s evolution, as electrical engineer Willoughby Smith discovered that the element had the potential for photoconductivity. That led to a revelation just three years later by English physicists William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day that selenium can create electricity when exposed to sunlight.

The Design of the First Solar Cells

Any discussion about the history of the development of solar energy wouldn’t be complete without Charles Fritts’ contribution. In 1883, this New York inventor designed the very first solar cells, constructed from selenium and a thin gold layer. Fritts installed these primitive solar panels on the rooftop of a New York City building. His invention only reached an energy conservation rate of 1-2 percent (while most modern solar cells operate at 15-20 percent efficiency), but these cells did produce electric current “that is continuous, constant, and of considerable force” according to Fritts’ account.

But it was another inventor, Edward Weston, who received patents for those solar cells, U.S. Patent 389,124 and U.S. Patent 389,425, in 1888. That same year, Russian scientist Aleksandr Stoletov invented the first solar cell that utilized the photoelectric effect, discharging electrons when light hit the cells.

After that, new patents came periodically, with American inventor Harry Reagan receiving a patent in 1897 for thermal batteries charged by solar energy. Another patent came in 1913 when William Coblentz designed a thermal generator that was more practical than ever before.

The Introduction of the Photovoltaic Cell

Our look at solar energy history facts takes a huge leap forward in 1954 when Bell Laboratories designed the silicon P.V. (photovoltaic) cell. There at Bell Labs, inventors Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson came up with the first-ever solar cell made of silicon – not selenium – that reached 4 percent efficiency at converting sunlight to power. With subsequent developments, they quickly reached 6 percent efficiency, but installing solar panels on a building or residential property was still a far-off concept.

One of the notable events in the brief history of the development of solar energy came with space exploration, as solar power was used to help power satellites, including Vanguard I, Vanguard II, Sputnik 3, and Explorer III, all in 1958. By 1964, NASA launched their Nimbus spacecraft satellite, which ran completely on 470-watt solar power. NASA used solar to power space exploration again in 1966 with the first Orbiting Astronomical Observatory.

Solar One: The World’s First Solar Building

In 1973, the University of Delaware created “Solar One,” the world’s first solar building. It didn’t have solar panels, but the solar capacity was built right into the rooftop materials, using a combination of solar P.V. power and solar thermal.

When the United States was thrust into an energy crisis in 1974, Congress quickly passed the Solar Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Act. With that, the U.S. government pledged to “make solar viable and affordable and market it to the public.” For the first time, it seemed that solar energy in normal life seemed viable for the near future. However, the path of growth for solar slowed in the 1980s when energy prices dropped precipitously.

The endorsement of solar power for the nation was a mercurial issue for U.S. presidents, too. President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the White House in 1979, but President Ronald Reagan had them removed in 1981. It wasn’t until 2010 when President Barack Obama asked for solar panels to be re-installed at the White House, as well as a solar hot water heater.

The Solar Challenger: First Aircraft to Run On Solar Power

Solar development got an unlikely boost from the aviation field in 1981 when Solar Challenger became the first aircraft to run entirely on solar power, flying from France to the U.K. Thirty-five years later, in 2016, Solar Impulse 2 became the first aircraft to fly around the globe with solar power and zero emissions.

As we transition from the history of solar energy to the present day, it becomes clear why residential use of solar is more popular than ever. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the prevalence of solar energy has grown by an average of 50 percent annually over the last ten years. This is largely thanks to the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which was enacted in 2006. But the technology of solar systems, from panels to batteries, has also vastly improved. In fact, installation costs are now 70 percent less than just ten years ago.

Today, solar power is less expensive, easier, and more efficient than ever, and LGCY Power is the national leader in solar power for homeowners looking to save on their energy bills.

Call LGCY Power at 1.866.566.2650 and speak with one of our experienced solar professionals. Our solar experts will answer your questions about making the switch to solar power and will demonstrate how going solar will save you money in as little as one month’s time.

Daylight Savings Time Is All About Energy

Twice a year, most of us set our clocks forward or back in observance of Daylight Savings Time. Whether it’s springing one hour forward in March or falling back one hour in November, Daylight Savings Time (DST) gives us an extra hour of daylight in the evenings during the winter season when days are shorter. According to Scientific American, approximately 25 percent of the world’s population observe daylight savings, losing an hour of sleep or gaining an hour of sunlight.

However, being able to work and play an extra hour wasn’t the only purpose for Daylight Savings Time. So, does Daylight Savings Time save energy, too? 

There are plenty of studies and even a little controversy surrounding the question, how does daylight savings time save energy? So, it’s first important to look at the history of Daylight Savings.

The History of Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings didn’t come to fruition until World War I, when Germany saw that an extra hour of sunlight would help with work, wartime production, and conserve energy. By the end of WWI, the United States was doing the same, asking Americans to set the clocks back as a temporary wartime measure, and they picked up the practice again in WWII to stretch the days and conserve energy.

Once the war ended, it fell to individual states to decide if they wanted to observe Daylight Savings Time, as well as the schedule of dates. But in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, turning the clocks back one hour on the last Sunday in October and forward one hour on the last Sunday in April. 

If those dates don’t sound entirely familiar, it’s because in 2007, those dates were adjusted to the first Sunday in November and the second Sunday in March.

Now that we’ve caught up with the history of Daylight Savings Time, let’s focus on the crucial question, how does Daylight Savings Time save energy?

How Does Daylight Savings Time Save Energy?

The conventional wisdom went that if we are able to spend an extra hour outdoors, we wouldn’t need to turn on lights, watch televisions, or use other appliances, saving electricity. Just by keeping the lights off for an hour, Daylight Savings Time saves energy, right?

Of course, some thought daylight savings was a great idea and lobbied hard for it, like retailers and farmers, among others who would benefit. (In 1986, lobbyists for the golf industry told Congress that an additional four weeks of daylight savings would generate  about $400 annually in extra revenue and sales on golf courses across the country!) 

What The Research Says About Daylight Savings

Those opinions aside, let’s look at the research to see how Daylight Savings Time saves energy (if at all).

In the 1970s, during the U.S. oil crisis, the U.S. Department of Transportation conducted a study and found that Daylight Savings Time (DST) decreased overall electricity consumption by 1 percent, but not because of its intended effect – reducing home energy and heating needs. 

The U.S. Department of Energy published a report in 2007 when Congress extended DST four weeks. Their findings were consistent with the DOT, as saving daylight only lowered energy use by 0.5 percent (half a percent) each day. They discovered that although there was some nominal energy savings in the late afternoon/early evenings, people used their heat and lights more in the mornings. In total, Daylight Savings Time saved the country only 1.24 terawatts or 0.03 percent of our total electricity demand.

That may seem like nominal electricity savings, but in their 2008 report on that analysis, the DOT noted that 1.24 terawatts could power 100,000 U.S. households for a whole year. Additionally, their study looked at residential power savings but not the effect of DST on commercial energy usage, which could offer more savings.

The extension of Daylight Savings Time in 2007 also provided a valuable opportunity to compare the before-and-after energy usage and test its efficacy to save energy.

Adrienne Kandel, an economist for the California Energy Commission, did just that, conducting a study into California’s energy usage before and after the 2007 extension of DST. She found that Daylight Savings had little or even no effect on how much energy was used in that state. The energy savings was only 0.2 percent over those extra weeks of DST, well within the 1.5 percent statistical margin of error.

Another valuable opportunity for a before-and-after comparison came in 2006 when Indiana adopted Daylight Savings Time statewide. By studying electricity usage, they found that DST actually increased demand for electricity by 1 percent, costing Indiana residents an additional $9 million. 

A large-scale European study found that Daylight Savings initiatives reduced the energy used for lighting only marginally, but the demand for home heating actually increased by 9 percent, making DST a resounding net negative.

And a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S. found that while energy for lighting did decrease, the use of power for heating and cooling rose significantly.

Accurately gauging if Daylight Savings Time saves energy is a tricky proposition. This smattering of studies and reports also lack any uniform scientific methodology, and many factors are at play.

For instance, through the 1960s, it was lighting that cost us the most in electricity, although now lighting has become exponentially more efficient – and cheaper. In the 1970s, it was the skyrocketing price of oil that dictated the lion’s share of energy costs, altering the DST savings equation. 

DST May Hurt Home Energy Savings in Certain States

These days, we use air conditioning far more on early summer evenings and turn on the heat during chilly mornings in the early spring and late fall, dispelling the idea that DST lowers energy usage. In states where air conditioning is needed almost year-round, DST may actually hurt, not help, home energy savings. (That’s the big reason why Arizona hasn’t adopted DST.) 

Likewise, latitude matters when we wonder how Daylight Savings Time saves energy, since an extra hour of daylight in northern latitudes with colder climates may be far more valuable than southern and warmer regions. We also use our computers, electronics, and smart appliances almost constantly, so an extra hour of daylight won’t make an impact. Most of these studies also look only at residential electric bills, not commercial buildings, retail spaces, or offices.

The Best Way To Save On Solar

No one is really sure if the sun will set on Daylight Savings Time and we will go back to a uniform time, but one thing is for sure: the best way to save money on your energy and electricity bills is to go solar at home with LGCY Power. Solar power is now cheaper, easier, and more efficient than ever, and LGCY Power is at the forefront of America’s solar revolution.

Extreme Weather Effects on Solar Panels

Given that solar panels generate electricity through sunlight, your residential solar system will obviously spend all of its time outdoors. This means that your solar panels will be exposed to all sorts of conditions, from typical rain and snow to extreme winds and temperature swings. Your panels might even have to withstand severe weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, and more.

Therefore, it’s understandable that many homeowners have questions about how solar panels perform in a variety of weather conditions. Does extreme weather reduce the lifespan of a solar panel? Is there such a thing as all-weather solar panels? Throughout this article, we’ll fill you in on all of the important details.

Heat and Sun

Of course, sunshine is a good thing for solar panels. The more sunlight your panels receive, the more power they generate — it truly is just that simple. However, what if you live in a city like Phoenix, AZ, that frequently sees temperatures spike into the 100s? Is there a level of heat that becomes too much and causes the panels to crack?

Fortunately, most solar panels can handle temperatures up to around 150 degrees. Even then, it’s likely that the panels would merely lose efficiency instead of becoming damaged. It doesn’t matter much how hot it gets — if your solar system is in a sunny city like San Diego, CA, your solar panels will likely perform at an optimal level.

Cold and Snow

There’s a common misconception about solar panels in cold weather. While you might think that cold weather decreases the efficiency of your residential solar installation, this has no basis in fact. There are some winter conditions that can reduce solar panels’ effectiveness — such as the angle of the sun — but cold temperatures can actually boost efficiency.

What if you live in a city like Baltimore, MD, where heavy snowfall is somewhat common during the winter months? Much like solar panels in cloudy weather, it’s important to note that snow-covered solar panels won’t produce as much energy as a clean panel, but it’s highly unlikely that your panels will buckle under the weight of the snow. Furthermore, solar panels are typically installed at an angle that allows snow to slide off harmlessly.

Wind, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes

For the most part, windy conditions shouldn’t have much of an effect on your solar panels. Of course, if your home is directly in the path of a hurricane or tornado, it’s possible that you could lose your entire roof. However, in the vast majority of other high-wind scenarios, your solar panels will be in no danger. Furthermore, the wind does not affect solar panel performance.

Hail

If you live in the Midwest, your home is likely subjected to the occasional hailstorm. Thankfully, solar panel manufacturers planned ahead for this occurrence. The vast majority of solar panels are constructed to withstand much more severe impacts than the typical hailstorm provides. In fact, most solar panel manufacturers build their panels to withstand twice as much force as the impact from a severe hailstorm.

In Conclusion

While it’s true that weather does have an effect on residential solar systems, solar panels and weather tend to mix better than people think they do. Solar manufacturers are well aware that their products will need to withstand a variety of harsh conditions, and it’s going to take a lot more than rain, snow, or hail to damage your panels. Furthermore, while all-weather solar panels aren’t available quite yet, efforts are underway to create even stronger panels that can withstand anything Mother Nature sends their way.

For more information about extreme weather effects on solar panels, contact LGCY Power today. Our representatives are true experts who are familiar with everything there is to know about solar panel performance in various weather conditions. They can help you figure out the best options for your home and choose the right panels for your solar system.

Solar Energy vs Fossil Fuels: How Do They Compare?

Solar power is gaining popularity in the United States, with more people opting for the savings and clean energy that LGCY Power provides. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans say that it’s more important to develop clean energy sources like solar than produce more fossil fuels.

But, while solar power usage has grown 460 percent from 2008 to 2018, we still rely on coal, petroleum, and natural gas to generate about 80 percent of our country’s power. What’s holding us back? A lot of it is just education, which will lead to even more widespread adoption of solar power in our daily lives. So, today we would like to provide you with more information on the advantages of solar energy vs fossil fuels.

The main considerations we’ll use to judge the two are:
1) Cost of power
2) Negative environmental impact
3) Ease of integration and use
4) Pros and cons

1) The cost of fossil fuels vs solar energy

When we talk about comparing the cost of solar electricity to fossil fuels, it’s important to note the prevalence of government subsidies. In fact, the United States government has subsidized traditional fossil fuels at a higher rate than any other country in the world according to EnergySage.com.

For example, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) actually covers 26 percent of most solar installations in the United States. That has been true even under even the most environmentally friendly administrations and Presidents. Therefore, the best way to compare apples-to-apples when we talk about energy costs is to turn to a more straightforward metric: global energy prices.

Traditionally, the price of electricity generated from fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels ranges between $0.05 and $0.17 per kilowatt-hour. Currently, the price of solar energy runs between $0.03 and $0.06 per kilowatt-hour according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. So, solar power costs about half as much as electricity produced from non-renewable sources (and that’s not factoring in indirect costs like environmental harm, etc.).

While the savings with solar are profound, the potential for even lower energy prices in the future is exciting. Remember that solar is not a fuel but a technology. Therefore, it’s not a limited resource like gas, oil, coal, etc., which can only increase in price as the supply shrinks. Conversely, advancements in solar technology will improve dramatically over the coming decades, making solar power the cost-efficient choice to power our lives.

2) The environmental impact

When it comes to environmental impact, solar is the clear winner. Solar energy harnesses the power of the sun, cleanly and without harmful emissions or pollutants. We don’t need to mine, drill, burn, or deplete a finite resource to obtain an endless abundance of solar energy.

Fossil fuels, however, deplete and degrade the Earth in the process of obtaining them, causing serious and irreversible changes to the Earth’s fragile ecosystem. Fossil fuels also emit harmful pollutants such as greenhouse gasses, poisoning our environment for future generations. For instance, the burning of fossil fuels now accounts for three-quarters of all carbon emissions in the United States according to NRDC.org. Our dependence on non-renewable fuels also leads to indirect effects like armed conflicts, food insecurity, price volatility, deforestation, and more.

3) Integration and use

Currently, renewable energy resources like wind, solar, and hydropower make up only 2-3 percent of energy usage for the whole world (and about 4 percent in the United States). Non-renewables like oil, coal, and natural gas still make up the vast majority of our energy usage, despite their higher cost and harm to the environment.

Part of the reason for that dependence on non-renewable fuels, is the infrastructure and distribution system, which has been entrenched in our society for more than 100 years. When it comes to ease of filling up your car’s gas tank or calling up the utility company to connect electricity at your house, non-renewables have an edge.

But the use of clean energy is becoming more practical by the day, already surpassing fossil fuels in terms of cost savings. As technology around solar panels, batteries, and other solar systems keeps developing, the application of clean energy sources in everyday life will become more widespread.

4) Solar energy vs fossil fuels pros and cons

To recap the pros and cons of solar energy and fossil fuels, we see that solar now costs less to produce (approximately half as much). The operating costs of fossil fuels will only grow over time as these finite, non-renewable resources are depleted.

Solar Power, on the other hand, will most likely drop in price and increase in efficiency since it’s a technology and not a power source.

Fossil fuel dependence comes with serious environmental consequences, like water pollution, soil erosion, global warming, and more.

When we talk about solar energy vs fossil fuels, the only drawback to solar is that it’s not widely accessible yet, as improvements in infrastructure, technology, and energy policies are needed before there can be a solar panel on every rooftop. LGCY Power is at the forefront of that movement to bring solar to every American household!

Sources:

Solar Energy vs Fossil Fuels
Renewable Energy is Growing Fast in the US But Fossil Fuels Still Dominate
Renewable Power Costs in 2019
Solar vs Fossil Fuels
Fossil Fuels Dirty Facts

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