Author: LGCY Power

3 Lesser-Known Benefits of Residential Solar Power Systems

You probably already know how residential solar power systems are not only great for cutting energy costs, but are also more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.


But did you know that they can actually help you make money, save money for decades, and enjoy improved economic security?


Let’s take a closer look at how each one works:


#1: They can help you make money


Investing in a residential solar power system helps you make money not only by giving you access to all sorts of government incentives, but also by helping increase the value of your property.


In terms of government incentives, you’ll get access to things such as:


  • Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit


If you have your residential solar power system installed on or before January 1, 2023, you’re entitled to a 26% tax credit based on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which also covers fuel cell, geothermal heat pump, and small-scale wind turbine installations.


But even if you have your system installed at a later date, you’ll still receive a 22% tax credit—and this is regardless of the condition of your home. Whether you live in a pre-existing property or a newly constructed one, you’re covered by the provisions of the act.


  • Performance-Based Incentive (PBI)


As the same suggests, this incentive involves payouts based on how much energy your residential solar power system generates over a set period of time.


In some states, the payouts are released every month; in others, you’ll have to wait anywhere between one and five years. Either way, though, you’re still earning regular payments from a one-time expense.


The only catch is that if you want to get paid a lot, you will have to really take care of your system and keep it in peak condition.


  • Solar Rebates


Selling any excess energy your system generates back into the grid is another one of the many government benefits you could enjoy when you have a residential power system installed in your home.


Just like with PBI, if you want to enjoy sizable rebates, you’ll have to make sure your system is operating at 100%—or near 100%—capacity.


In terms of increasing your property’s value, on the other hand, the actual numbers would ultimately depend on where it is located.


Properties in New York, Orlando, and San Francisco, for example, typically see a 4.4-5.4% increase. Those in New Jersey, on the other hand, see a jump of up to 9.9%. Depending on the average price of the properties in your area, these numbers could translate to tens of thousands of dollars added to your home’s price tag.


#2: They generate long-term ROI


Another lesser-known benefit of residential solar power systems is that most modern options are designed to work at peak capacity for at least 25 years after you have them installed. And even after that time, they should still work at about 85% capacity for years to come, allowing you to still enjoy sizable cost savings without having to worry about spending on a replacement.


Of course, the actual lifespan of your solar power system would ultimately depend on factors such as:


  • The manner in which it is installed
  • The climate in your area
  • How it is maintained


You’ll know it’s time to get a replacement when you’re no longer getting the amount of energy you need from your current system or if it suffers irreparable damage at some point during the course of its lifespan.


#3: They can help provide improved economic security to everyone


The third and final lesser-known benefit of residential solar power systems we’ll take a look at today is how they help the country become less dependent on imported fossil fuels—that cost whatever the countries that supply them decide they do—for energy.


This means that with each installation, we, as a nation, take one step closer to enjoying improved long-term economic security.


The fact that even the US federal government has invested over $100 million to make solar energy more cost effective for everyone highlights just how promising the technology is and how much the country as a whole stands to gain from it.


Ready to find out more about getting a solar power system for your home?


Book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants today! Just tell us what you need and we’ll help you find the best and most cost-effective option for your home.

The Top Solar Incentive Programs in the US

Investing in a residential solar power system for your home not only helps you save on electricity costs, but also gives you access to a host of government incentives.


Today, we’ll take a look at the top solar incentives in the US that you can take advantage of when you decide to go solar.


#1: Solar Investment Tax Credit


If you have your solar power system installed—or use it for the first time—between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2023, you are entitled to tax credits you can use to reduce the total amount of income tax you have to pay.


If the installation is done between 2020 and 2022, you’ll receive a 26% tax credit. If it’s done in 2023, you’ll get 22%.


You qualify for this incentive as long as you own the solar power system and have it installed on your primary or secondary home or at an off-site community solar project.


#2: Solar Renewable Energy Certificate


Also known as solar renewable energy credits, solar renewable energy certificates (SREC) are an incentive the state provides to households based on the power their solar power systems generate.


What’s great about these certificates is that you can sell them to energy providers or anyone who’s willing to buy one in exchange for payment that’s generally regarded as taxable income.


To qualify, all you have to do is register your solar power system with the proper state authorities so they can track its energy production.


#3: Tax Exemptions


Depending on where you live, installing a residential solar power system may give you access to certain tax exemptions.


You see, solar power system installations typically cause property values to rise, which, in turn, causes property taxes to also rise—at least that is what’s supposed to happen.


The good news is some states and municipalities don’t take this increase in value into account when calculating property taxes so you don’t have to pay extra just because you want to cut your energy costs.


#4: Subsidized Loans


Depending on the size of your property and your energy requirements, having a solar power system installed may mean a sizable upfront investment. Fortunately, to encourage more households to make the switch to renewable forms of energy, some states offer subsidized loans to make the process easier on the budget.


What does all this mean?


The US government clearly wants more households to transition to renewable forms of energy, such as solar, by offering those that do a host of financial incentives. If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to make the investment now.


Don’t know where to start? Just book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants and we’ll guide you every step of the way.


How Much Energy Can a Solar Panel Generate?

The short answer is it depends. You see, there are a couple of factors that dictate just how much power you can squeeze out of a solar panel.


To find out, just ask yourself five simple questions:


Question #1: What is the solar panel’s wattage?


Most commercially available solar panels are designed to produce anywhere between 250 and 400 watts of power. The higher the wattage, the more power it can generate.


Question #2: What type of solar cell does the panel use?


When it comes to silicon solar panels, for example, there are two primary solar cell types to choose from: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The former typically generates more power than the latter.


Regardless of the type you go with, though, silicon solar panels are still the most popular option right now because they strike the perfect balance between cost, efficiency, and lifespan.


Question #3: How many cells does the panel have


Solar panels typically come with either 60 or 72 cells, and the more cells a panel has, the more power it can generate.


This, however, doesn’t mean you should automatically go with 72-cell panels. Your choice would ultimately depend on how much roof space you have because 72-cell panels are bigger than 60-cell ones.


Question #4: How much sunlight do you get in your area?


More sunlight means more power generated. This is why you can see significant differences in the total power output of the exact same solar panels from one area to the next.


A 370W panel, for example, would generate anywhere between 2.2 and 2.7 kWh per day in sunny areas such as California and Arizona but just around 0.93 to 1.5 in places such as Alaska and New Jersey.


But even if you live in a place that gets a lot of sunlight, if your panels are covered by things like the shade of a tree or dust and debris, then you would still see a lower overall power output.


Question #5: How old is the solar panel?


Most modern solar panels are designed to work at 100% capacity for about 25 to 30 years—unless they are poorly maintained or damaged.


But even past their “expiry” date, they should still function at about 85% capacity, which should still provide you with sizable energy cost savings.


What does all this mean?


Choosing the right solar panels for your home is not as straightforward as you might think. There are a lot of factors to consider to ensure your solar power system is able to generate enough power for your needs.


So, how about we make the process a little simpler? Just book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants and we’ll help you find (and install) the perfect solar power system for your home.


Can I Use Solar Panels to Completely Power My Home?

The short answer is yes, you can use solar panels to completely power your home. The setup required, however, would ultimately depend on four main factors:


#1: Your total energy consumption


To be able to power your entire home using only solar energy, you will need to first find out how much power your household consumes—which you can easily do by checking your electric bill—so you know how much power you need.


To give you an idea, the average American household consumes around 893 kWH of energy per month, but depending on the size of your property and family, your actual consumption may be higher or lower than that.


#2: The wattage of the solar panels you get


Different solar panels have different power and efficiency ratings. The higher the wattage of the ones you get, the fewer of them you need.


This means that if you don’t have a lot of space on your roof, then you’d have no choice but to invest in higher-wattage, higher-efficiency panels so you can use fewer panels to generate the amount of power you need.


In contrast, if you have ample roof space, then you can get away with using lower-wattage, lower-efficiency panels by simply installing more of them.


#3: The amount of sun you get in your area


The actual performance of your solar power system would ultimately depend on the amount of sun available in your area.


As a general rule, people who live in a sunny state can get  more power out of their solar panels than those who live in an area that does not get a lot of sun.


What does all this mean?


As you can see, while powering your entire home exclusively using solar energy is indeed possible, doing so is not as straightforward as it sounds. In fact, it’s quite easy to get wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing.


And even if you manage to get the math right and figure out the exact setup you need, you’ll still need to be able to install everything perfectly to ensure everything works as intended—which is where our team here at LGCY Power comes in.


Instead of trying to figure everything out yourself, you can just book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants so we can guide you every step of the way and make sure everything is in order before you make the investment.


How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Back in the day, going solar required a massive upfront investment, which made it only accessible to wealthy households.


These days, however, pretty much everyone can enjoy the energy savings and many other benefits of making the switch, thanks to the significantly lower cost of acquisition and the availability of different payment plans.


But before we get to that, let’s first take a look at how much solar panels cost today—at least on paper:


How much do solar panels cost: the short answer


If you just want the national average, solar panels cost anywhere between $9,255 and $28,000.


But why the massive range? Well, that’s because there are several factors that dictate how much you need to shell out to install solar panels on your roof, including:


  • Your power requirements
  • Where you live
  • The availability of federal government incentives such as solar tax credits
  • The deals offered by solar companies in your area
  • The type of solar panels you decide to use


Let’s take a closer look at the last item on the list:


Type 1: Monocrystalline solar panels


Let’s start with the most expensive option. Monocrystalline solar panels typically cost anywhere between $1 and $1.50 per watt. This means that a 10 kW system would cost you anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000.


But don’t let the price tag turn you off. There’s a reason—two to be exact—monocrystalline panels are quite expensive: they’re more efficient and durable than other alternatives.


Simply put, when you invest in a monocrystalline system, you’ll not only need fewer panels to generate the power you need, you’ll also be able to save money on electricity for a longer time.


But what if monocrystalline panels are really out of your budget? Well, this is where the second option comes in:


Type 2: Polycrystalline solar panels


While slightly less durable and efficient than their monocrystalline counterpart, polycrystalline solar panels are also more affordable, coming in at just $0.70 to $1 per watt. This means a 10kW setup would cost you anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000.


Type 3: PERC solar panels                         


Now, if you want something that’s cheaper per watt than polycrystalline panels but more efficient than monocrystalline ones, then PERC solar panels may be the best option for you.


Short for “passivated emitter rear cell”, PERC panels cost just $0.32 to $0.65 per watt and are designed to absorb more sunlight than both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.


But that’s not all. They’re also designed to handle extreme heat better. Behind the main cell of a PERC panel, you’ll find another layer that prevents excess sunlight from heating up its back sheet, which, in turn, keeps the system operating at peak capacity.


But the excess sunlight doesn’t go to waste either. It gets reflected back to the panel’s main cell, increasing the total amount of solar energy the system absorbs.


Type 4: Thin-film solar panels


The actual per-watt cost of thin-film solar panels ultimately depends on the type you get.


Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) panels cost $0.60 to $0.70 per watt. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) ones cost $0.50 to $0.60. Finally, Amorphous silicon (a-Si) panels cost anywhere between $0.43 and $0.50.


Despite their significantly lower price tag, however, they’re also the least efficient option out of the four—and they’re bigger too. This means you’ll not only need more panels to meet your energy requirements, you’ll also need a massive roof to house all of them.


This is why this particular type of solar panel is used more for industrial applications than residential ones.


But what about the other factors?


Aside from the per-watt cost of the type of solar panel you decide to go with, you also need to consider how many panels you’ll need to generate the power you require—and then subtract any applicable tax credits and rebates to the total cost.


In addition to the cost of acquiring the system, however, you’ll also need to take into account the cost of labor, which goes up or down depending on two primary factors:


  1. How difficult it is to install and set up the solar energy system you chose
  2. How much renovation work your home needs to accommodate your chosen system


This is why it’s important to check whether your home qualifies for a solar upgrade first before doing everything else.


As a general rule, you need to have a south-facing roof that’s not in the shade of nearby structures or trees and has a slope between 15 and 40 degrees to ensure your solar panels get the most sunlight throughout the day.


In addition, your roof also needs to be big and sturdy enough to accommodate the number of panels you need to meet your power requirements.


But don’t worry. You don’t have to do the checking yourself. In fact, it’s better to just have a solar specialist do it for you to ensure everything is in order before you proceed. This way, you can avoid costly issues and redos down the line.


Is there a way to bring down the upfront cost of solar panels?


Absolutely! You have three options: solar loans, solar lease, and solar PPA. Let’s take a closer look at each one:


A solar loan works pretty much like any other type of loan: it allows you to acquire your solar energy system via a payment plan. The only difference is that with solar companies such as LGCY Power, it also gives you access to the following benefits:


  • Monthly payments lower than your energy bill
  • System maintenance
  • Product and workmanship warranty
  • Federal solar tax credit and other government incentives


Just like a solar loan, a solar lease also eliminates the upfront cost of going solar. The only difference is that you don’t get to own the system. In fact, if you get one from LGCY Power, you’ll also get access to the exact same benefits as with a solar loan.


Finally, a solar PPA—short for power purchase agreement—also completely takes upfront costs out of the equation, but instead of requiring you to pay monthly to own or rent the system, you’ll only pay for the amount of power you generate.


The benefits you get, if you decide to work with LGCY Power, are also exactly the same.


But is solar worth the investment?


Of course, even if it’s now easier than ever on the budget to make the switch to solar, the question is: is it actually worth doing?


Well, let’s first take a quick look at its benefits so you can decide for yourself:


First, as we’ve seen earlier, going solar gives you access to different government incentives. Depending on the state you live in, this can include things such as tax credits and rebates.


Second, in some states, energy companies are also required to either pay you with cash or credit for any excess power your solar energy system generates. In this setup, you’re essentially making money by selling energy back to the grid.


Third, aside from the energy savings, fitting your home with a solar energy system also bumps up its value. Depending on where you live, this could translate to an extra several thousand dollars on top of your home’s current price tag.


And finally, on top of all the financial incentives, going solar also gives you and your family access to several non-monetary benefits, including:


  • A steady supply of clean water
  • Cleaner air
  • A more stable economy


Let’s take a closer look at each one:


First, with more households using solar energy, the need for hydroelectric power plants—which use massive amounts of water—would naturally decrease. This, in turn, means more readily available clean water for everyone.


Second, going solar also minimizes our need to rely on fossil fuels for our energy needs. The result? Cleaner air for everyone, thanks to less harmful fumes and excess carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.


Finally, as you probably already know, the price of oil in the global market is extremely volatile. There are just too many economic and political factors that can cause it to suddenly skyrocket.


With fewer households relying on fossil fuels, the need for our country to pay other countries to import them also decreases, resulting in improved economic security for everyone.


So, now that you’ve seen all the benefits of making the switch to solar, it seems like a pretty good investment, right?


Your next steps


If you wish to know more about fitting your home with a solar energy system, just book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions and guide you every step of the way in case you decide to proceed with the upgrade.


The Best Solar Panels for a Rooftop

Of the reasons that motivated surveyed Americans to install solar panels, cost-savings and benefitting the environment were the top two. According to Deloitte, over half of solar panel users explained they use solar because it’s clean, helps the environment, and lowers their monthly bills.

You’re likely considering solar panels for the same reasons but aren’t sure where to start. Solar energy can be a complicated concept for those who don’t have prior experience, and searching for the right equipment brings up foreign terms.

The best solar panels for a rooftop will depend on the size of the roof, the budget, and the typical climate in the area. To help you narrow down your search and choose the right equipment, we’ve created this guide.

How to Choose the Right Solar Panels

Solar panels can certainly lower your monthly bills if installed correctly. It’s possible to get all your energy from your solar panels. In fact, you could have excess energy from your solar panels that you could sell to offset more costs.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just slapping a few panels onto your roof. Not all solar panels are right for every situation, and your location has a lot to do with it. Everyone is getting at least some sunlight, but certain climates make it harder for solar panels to receive enough solar energy to do their job.

A solar panel system also consists of more than just panels. You’ll need to consider the type of inverter you need, for example, so that you can effectively turn that solar energy into energy that works for your home.

To get started, though, let’s talk about which types of solar panels are best for certain situations. Consider the size of your roof, how much you’re willing to spend, and what type of weather you generally experience.

What is Your Roof Like?

The size of your roof will determine how many panels you can fit and how big they can be. How you tackle this will also have a lot to do with your budget because you can decide to buy several cheaper panels or stick to a few more expensive ones.

While having a bigger roof gives you more surface area to fit panels, not all of your roof might be usable. If you have chimneys or weird corners, for example, this will cut into the space that you can use for panels. In addition, the direction of your roof plays a huge part in solar panel efficiency.

Consider what direction your house faces, as this will affect how much direct sunlight your panels will receive. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but it also stays on a southern path. For those who live in the northern hemisphere, having a south-facing roof covered in solar panels will be the most effective setup.

In comparison, having a roof that faces even southeast or southwest can significantly lessen this effectiveness. Further, having a roof that only faces west or east can reduce the amount of sun the panels receive throughout the day. Instead, a west or east-facing roof will receive more intense sunlight during a certain period of the day.

This surge of energy at one part of the day might be useful for you. For those whose energy bills are based on TOU (time of use price structure) rather than a fixed rate, a west-facing solar panel system can produce a burst of solar energy during the peak hours of energy use, offsetting the surge pricing from the electric company.

Keep all this in mind as you shop for solar panels. If you have a roof with several faces, you’ll want to consider which panels you’re buying and set them up in the best direction for optimum efficiency.

What is Your Budget?

Solar panels are certainly an investment. Like a car, you aren’t just thinking about a one-time cost with no other factors. The type of car you get will affect how much money you spend down the line, such as on gas and repairs.

Similarly, solar panels can be more expensive upfront but save you more money on bills. Therefore, you should consider not only how much money you can afford to spend on solar panels, but also how much money you’re looking to save in return. Think about what your usual electricity bill looks like and how the company prices out energy use.

The higher your average electricity bill is, the likelihood that you’ll save money with solar panels increases. This is because the initial costs of installation can sometimes be a huge barrier to saving money in the long run. Thankfully, installations costs have been going down over time as solar panels are becoming more common and production of these materials is increasing.

Many states offer incentives for installing solar panels as a way to break down this barrier. Research incentives like tax deductions and credits to see if installing solar panels will help your yearly expenses. Then, use this estimated savings to build a budget.

Finally, if you make enough solar energy, you can look into selling it back to the grid. Some home producers of solar energy make a few thousand dollars selling their energy every year. If this profit will make a huge difference in your decision, make sure to consult with your energy provider first.

Your budget will significantly affect which types of solar panels you can buy. Certain lower-efficiency solar panels can be more affordable, but might not work well enough to meet your needs. High-efficiency solar panels can cover your needs and more but might have too high of a price to make installing them worth it.

You can attempt to manipulate these costs by changing the number of panels you buy and setting them up on your roof for maximum energy production. Overall, find the best solar panels for the price by comparing your current bills to your installation costs and cost savings over time.

What is the Climate in Your Area?

Finally, your climate has a huge impact on your solar energy production. The amount of sun you get and in which direction plays a major role, but that’s not the only factor. Some areas are more prone to rain and snow, and some houses are always in shade from the surrounding landscape.

When it comes to choosing the right solar panels, you’ll need to find panels that have the right levels of efficiency for your climate and roof situation. Areas that don’t get a lot of sun, or roofs that don’t point in the right direction, will require higher efficiency solar panels. In addition, if your panels are covered in snow constantly, they won’t be able to function properly.

In addition to efficiency, you’ll want solar panels that can withstand your climate events. If you live in a high-risk area for hurricanes, for example, you’ll want to install solar panels that can last through high winds. Places that frequently get heavy snowfall will also need solar panels that don’t collapse under the weight.

If you live in a place that gets a lot of rain, the water won’t necessarily be a factor. Solar panel technology is meant for the outdoors, so it is waterproof. What you need to think about is cloud coverage.

Not all places get a lot of cloud coverage with rain, so think about the number of hours for sun exposure instead. The best solar panels for rain will be the ones that can get enough sun exposure during your average day.

The Best Solar Panels for a Rooftop

The Best Solar Panels for any Rooftop, in any Weather InfographicNow that you know the basics of what factors will affect your solar panels, you’re probably wondering how exactly these factors will affect you. Which solar panels do we recommend for specific circumstances?

We’ve been in the business for a long time, so our expert advice is based on which solar panels have made our clients happiest with their investment. Since our company services cover 27 different states, we’ve seen all types of roof and climate situations. Our opinions are based on the value of the solar panels according to efficiency balanced with a budget.

Best Solar Panels for Cold Weather

Cold weather doesn’t always mean you can’t benefit from solar energy. The top states for solar panel use happen to be in colder climates, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Because these states have higher energy bills and better incentives, many residents have made the switch to solar.

These states also experience snow and cold winters, but they still receive enough sunlight to benefit from solar panels. Residents of colder areas mainly have to consider the durability of their panels under the weight of snow.

When it comes to the best solar panels for snow, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has a reliability standard for outdoor stressors on panels. Make sure to check this rating on solar panels in extreme weather environments.  This rating will help you find the best solar panels for longevity in extreme environments.

Also, find panels that can be mounted in the best way for your situation. If you experience a lot of snow, look to install vertically-mounted panels so that snow slides off.

Further, solar panels function with rows of cells. If one cell is covered, the whole row suffers. Installing horizontal panels that are mounted vertically will stop snow from covering and affecting every row of cells as it accumulates on the roof.

Otherwise, studies have shown that chillier climates are more conducive for solar energy harvesting! In addition, as long as the panels aren’t covered in snow, the snow laying around reflects sunlight and helps to harvest further.

Best Solar Panels for Warm Weather

Despite what many people think, high temperatures decrease the efficiency of solar panels. In places like Florida, where you’d think everyone could benefit from solar energy, the temperatures are so high that solar panels suffer. While full sun exposure will certainly benefit your solar energy harvesting, you’ll have to be careful picking solar panels that can withstand extreme heat.

To combat this lower efficiency, the best solar panels for Florida will be high-efficiency panels like ones made of monocrystalline. Solar panels are made with silicone, and monocrystalline panels use single crystals of silicon. These crystals must be manufactured and are more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels.

Monocrystalline panels work better in higher temperatures because of the way silicon electrons are affected by heat. With a single crystal, the atoms do a much better job of flowing the energy even when sped up. Polycrystalline panels have imperfect crystal structures that don’t direct the energy as well, letting it escape.

Your second-best option is polycrystalline panels. These panels use several crystals of silicon instead of one in each cell. These cells don’t do as well of a job of directing the energy flow, but are better than lesser-quality solar panels.

Solar panels function at their maximum capacity when they are kept in 77-degree weather. Unfortunately, direct sunlight heats a solar panel, so you’ll need to take airflow into account as well. Make sure your solar panels are propped up at least 15 cm away from the roof so that air can cool the panels from below.

Best Solar Panels for Shaded Roof

Unfortunately, some people have roofs that are partially or fully shaded. Whether this is because you have a lot of trees around the property or structures that cast shadows on your house, this can be bad news for solar panels. Further, these shadows can be cast differently depending on the time of the year.

First and foremost, try to find a setup location for your solar panels that will avoid the shade the most. If there’s absolutely no way to do this, you’ll have to find the best solar panels for shade.

Remember that covering even one cell of a solar panel can affect way more than just that one cell. Rows of cells depend on each other, so covering one cell will affect the entire row. You’ll need to look at solar panel technology that can bypass this fault.

Try buying solar panels that have half-cut cells or bypass diodes. Bypass diodes allow energy to flow around cells that are shaded. Half-cut cells increase the number of pathways available for energy to flow through.

You can also try microinverters, which bring the functionality of inverters to each cell rather than outside the panel. That way, energy can be converted at each cell rather than waiting for the entire panel to send energy to the inverter.

Switch to Solar

Solar energy is no joke. Homeowners not only cut down on their energy bills but start making money on their solar panel production over time. There’s no reason to hesitate any longer about installing your solar panels, regardless of where you live.

LGCY Power is a leading solar power installation company trusted across the country to install the best solar panels for a rooftop. With LGCY Power, you can even install your panels with no money out of pocket because we offer financing plans. Start seeing the savings instantly!

Schedule a consultation today!

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Rooftop Solar Panels — How Do They Work?

What are rooftop solar panels?

A rooftop solar panel is a grid that acts as a “collector” of the sun’s radiant energy, converting it to usable energy that is then stored in batteries and later used to power our homes. The solar cells within the grid are also called photovoltaic cells and are responsible for collecting radiant energy. The panels (modules) are grouped into “arrays” and placed in large outdoor spaces or rooftops. The number of PV cells needed for an array depends on the size of the module, i.e., a 12V module has 36 PV cells, while a 24V module has 72 PV cells.

Solar technology uses crystalline silicon as its semiconducting material. In residential rooftop solar panels, this material is monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon. The silicon’s purity determines the efficiency of a solar panel. Monocrystalline is purer than polycrystalline silicon, so it generates more power with less space. There are other types of modules available, most of them not suitable for home installation.

How do rooftop solar panels work?

The sun can be compared to a natural nuclear reactor. It is constantly releasing tiny particles of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) energy called photons. Rooftop solar panels collect the photons within the PV cells, converting the EMR into usable electricity. Solar energy is converted to direct current (DC), which is ultimately converted to alternating current (AC) that we use for power.

In this article, we discuss the lighter side of science on how rooftop solar panels work.

PV Cells—turning photons into electrons

As mentioned earlier, PV cells convert energy from the sun into electrical energy. Solar cells are constructed from semiconducting materials, most often silicon (Si), one of the most plentiful materials in the world. During this photovoltaic process, photons are turned into electrons.

One of the most significant benefits of this conversion process is that it does not generate any harmful emissions or waste, thus maintaining a clean, green environment while being extremely effective at generating energy. Photovoltaic cells (solar cells) are semiconductor devices that produce DC electricity when light falls on them.

Rooftop Solar panels—generating current

We discussed how PV cells convert photons into a direct current (DC). Each solar cell is made from crystalline silicon “sandwiched” between a negative and positive conductive layer. The positive layer has extra space, while the negative layer has excess electrons. Keep in mind that electrons move from negative to positive. Electrons travel across the confluence of the two layers, leaving a negative charge on one side and a positive charge on the other.

Because each cell produces about .5V, modules are constructed using several PV cells to generate enough electricity to power a house. It takes 12 PV cells to charge your cell phone—powering a home takes several modules.

If they could utilize an expanded range of convertible wavelengths, rooftop solar panels would generate more energy. Silicon, the semiconductor used in photovoltaic cells, does exceptionally well converting some of light’s wavelengths into electricity. The range of wavelengths a semiconductor can convert depends entirely upon the electrical properties of the material. If these materials absorb wavelengths packing more energy than those in the specific range of the material, the excess energy is lost as heat. Advancement in solar power technology is focused on increasing silicon solar cell efficiency by developing materials that can capture a broader range of wavelengths.

Inverters—DC to AC

Rooftop solar panels are incapable of powering a home—they need an inverter to convert the currents into usable electricity. The panels generate direct current (DC). Most houses in the US are wired for AC power. Therefore, an inverter is used to transform the DC into an alternating current (AC). A small, minuscule amount of energy may be lost in this conversion.

Most solar energy systems have a single inverter for the entire home. Another option is to connect microinverters to each panel. Either way, the result is the same.

Electricity is now available

AC electricity flows from the inverter to an external circuit and through your home. The solar-generated electricity then flows to all your home’s appliances, computers, TVs just as it would if you were receiving it from the power company. Rooftop solar panels may produce more power than your family needs. In that case, it can be stored in specialized batteries or sold back to the power company. Depending on how you get set up with the local power company, if your batteries are running low, you may be able to return to the power grid for the short term, for which you may receive a bill. Every power company has different programs for excess power buy-back and requirements for returning to the grid.

Excess energy—should you sell it or store it?

Suppose your rooftop solar panels generate excess energy. In that case, you have the option of either storing it in solar batteries or selling it through a net metering program back to the local utility company. By keeping the excess energy in solar batteries, your system remains off the grid. Batteries also provide you access to power 24/7, even on cloudy days when your rooftop solar panels don’t generate electricity quite as efficiently.

If you decide to use net metering, the utility company will pay you for the power you sell them. Depending on how the local utility company’s program is structured, they may apply for the compensation as bill credits, which can help offset any electricity you may use if you access the grid, helping you save money. Utility companies won’t pay cash for supplying power into the grid.

What is the lifespan of rooftop solar panels?

Rooftop solar panels can last up to 25 years or more—they are surprisingly durable and require little to no maintenance. There are no mechanical or electronic parts, so there is no wear and tear, and nothing gets worn down.

Solar panel manufacturers forecast a degradation rate of about 0.8% per year. After 20 years, solar energy production should only drop to an estimated 84% of the efficiency standard.

Residential panels typically come with performance warranties of 10-25 years. Depending on where your home is located, your system may outlive its warranty. Some rooftop solar panels continue to function for 40 years at a relatively high rate of efficiency. Panels can withstand 140 miles per hour wind speeds, according to Energy Sage. Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover solar panels against damages.

What is the lifespan of solar batteries?

Solar batteries and PV inverters don’t last as long as solar panels. Typically, solar PV inverters last between 10-15 years; the possibility of replacing them both within your system’s lifespan is very likely. A quality solar battery can be expected to last 8-15 years.

Inverter and battery inverter performance can be expected to decline over time. When comparing the different types of rooftop solar energy systems, be sure to read the warranty and performance guarantee.

Will solar power save me money?

Yes. Most Americans who have installed solar panels save on their electric bills. To better understand if solar panels will save you money, once you calculate or get a quote for the system, figure out your breakeven period:

  • How much do you spend annually on electricity?
  • How much will the system cost?
  • Divide the total cost by the total of your electric bills.

The resulting number is the number of years it will take for the new system to pay for itself.

Do rooftop solar panels work at night?

Solar cells require sunlight to produce electricity. However, excess energy can be stored in batteries so that your system can still provide power at night. Additionally, you can still source power from the grid if your rooftop solar panels aren’t producing enough power to meet your electricity needs.

What kind of current do rooftop solar panels produce?

Rooftop solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity when photons from the sun knock loose electrons in the silicon PV cell. Each solar cell has a positive and negative layer, thus creating a DC electrical field. Since most homes are wired for AC, an inverter is needed to convert the DC into usable AC power.

Can you build your rooftop solar panels?

No, the technology and manufacturing process is too complicated. Most people can’t build their rooftop solar panels.

Bottom line

The solar energy market is evolving rapidly, changing to stay abreast of the growing demands for renewable energy. Installing a rooftop solar energy system in your home is a sustainable way to decrease your energy costs and carbon footprint.

Solar energy is not the right choice for everyone. Read about solar panel costs; compare the pros and cons of rooftop solar installation to see if it’s right for you.

If you are a homeowner in Arizona interested in installing rooftop solar panels, give us a call today for a free quote!

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels: A Comparison Guide

Making the decision to install a solar energy system for your home is a big first step on the road to residential energy independence. By creating energy for your own home using the sun’s rays, you’re protecting the environment while also saving lots of money compared to buying electricity from the utility company.

That said, there are other important decisions to make in this process as well. For instance, you’ll need to choose between thermal and photovoltaic solar cells, and you’ll also need to decide whether you want monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels.

There is a crucial difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, and it’s not always easy to understand. That’s why we put together this guide that breaks down the monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar debate into simple terms. Which is the better option for your residential solar energy array?

The Two Types of Solar Panels: Thermal and Photovoltaic

Before we dig into the competition of monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels, we first need to discuss the differences between thermal and photovoltaic panels. Thermal solar panels were invented first, and they remain an efficient energy source. A thermal solar panel concentrates the sun’s rays to create energy in the form of heat. Inside the solar panel, fluid flows through tubes.

When sunlight hits the panel, the fluid warms up, and the thermal energy can be used to heat water in a boiler. You can also use thermal solar panels to heat your home through the usage of radiant floor heaters or those in the walls, ceilings, or roof. The typical home with thermal solar energy will have storage tanks for any extra hot water.

While thermal solar panels only produce heat, photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity. PV solar panels don’t require large holding tanks for excess hot water. Instead, these solar panels harness the sun’s energy to produce electricity. Then, your solar inverter will convert that raw energy into a form of electricity your home can use. Any excess energy can be sold back to the grid or stored in a solar battery.

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Next, it’s important to learn the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar. Every individual cell within a monocrystalline solar panel consists of one silicon crystal. On the other hand, each cell within a polycrystalline solar panel consists of many fragments of these crystals, forged together during the panel’s manufacturing process.

It’s not always easy to determine which side wins in the monocrystalline solar panels vs. polycrystalline solar panels debate, so let’s break down the differences.

Monocrystalline Solar Panel Advantages

The biggest advantage of a monocrystalline solar panel is its efficiency. Monocrystalline panels usually have efficiency ratings of around 15-20%, but some newer panels are producing even more energy than this. In fact, some experimental models are showing the capability to exceed 40% efficiency!

Another significant advantage for the monocrystalline side of the monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar debate is the fact that these panels are much smaller than polycrystalline panels. That means it’s easier to mount them on your rooftop. You won’t need as many of them, and smaller panels often have fewer maintenance needs as well.

Finally, monocrystalline panels tolerate heat better than polycrystalline panels. Therefore, if you’re installing a residential solar energy array in an area that regularly experiences extreme heat — such as the American Southwest — monocrystalline solar panels may be a superior option.

Polycrystalline Solar Panel Advantages

That said, polycrystalline panels have plenty of their own advantages, and there’s a reason these solar panels are still so popular. The most important advantage for many homeowners is the affordability of polycrystalline panels, and it can be a make-or-break aspect of the monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar debate.

A typical monocrystalline solar panel costs 20% more than a polycrystalline panel. For some homeowners, that alone is enough to tip the scales in favor of polycrystalline solar panels. Another significant aspect of the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar is how polycrystalline panels have a similar lifespan to monocrystalline panels, despite costing much less.

Even if we disregard aspects like efficiency, size, and heat sensitivity, the polycrystalline panel’s cheaper price point and comparable lifespan make it the preferred choice of many homeowners. Which side of the monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels debate are you on?

The Best Uses for Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

To begin this section, let’s take a look at some applications in which monocrystalline solar panels are the better option. If you only have a small amount of space to work with, monocrystalline panels are a far superior choice due to their energy efficiency.

In addition, monocrystalline panels are better in two crucial geographical areas: those with less daily sunlight and those with extremely harsh sunlight. The increased efficiency of a monocrystalline panel means it can produce more energy in areas like the Pacific Northwest that don’t receive much direct sunlight. They’re also much better in desert settings, such as Arizona, due to their superior resistance to heat.

On the other side of the monocrystalline solar panels vs. polycrystalline solar panels debate, we prefer polycrystalline panels if saving money is your top priority. This is especially true when you consider that there is no meaningful difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels regarding lifespan.

In Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this discussion of monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels, and it wouldn’t surprise us at all if you still have some questions. If so, reach out to LGCY Power at 855.546.0851 at your convenience.

Our representatives are true experts when it comes to the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, and they can help you determine which option is the best choice for your application. We can even send one of our reputable local installers to your home to perform an in-person assessment.

The monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar debate may never be truly settled, as both sides have their advantages and disadvantages. By properly analyzing which type of solar panel is best suited for your home, you can set up the residential solar power system of your dreams and end your reliance on traditional utility companies!

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How Passive Solar Home Designs Can Help Create the Home of the Future

Installing a rooftop solar energy array for an existing home is a great way to save money and protect the environment. That said, energy-efficient home designs can help minimize how much electricity the home needs while integrating efficient appliances, insulation, lighting, HVAC systems, windows, doors, and more!

We’re huge fans of passive solar home designs and other forms of energy-efficient new-home construction projects, as they can maximize a solar energy system’s output by integrating solar features throughout the home. Let’s discuss the various aspects of solar energy design for home construction and renovation. How can these passive solar home design plans save you money while generating eco-friendly energy?

Home Energy Assessments

Home energy assessments are a great way to analyze an existing home’s potential for energy efficiency. If you’re considering installing a rooftop solar energy array, you should first perform a home energy assessment. While you can DIY this assessment, we always prefer hiring a professional.

In your home energy assessment, your chosen assessor will examine each room in your home, using tools like infrared cameras, smoke pens, moisture meters, blower doors, gas leak detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors to identify any “soft spots” in its energy efficiency. Identifying these problem areas can help you make energy-saving renovations to your home.

Smart Design for Energy-Efficient Homes

For new construction, energy efficiency begins with smart design. When planning and integrating solar energy design for home construction, everyone needs to be on the same page. This means that the architects, builders, construction crew, and homebuyers all need to understand their role in creating an energy-efficient home.

Regular communication between all parties is vital when implementing energy-efficient home designs. For instance, if your architect changes their plans, they need to immediately inform the homeowner, builder, and subcontractors to ensure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities at all times.

What Are Passive Solar Home Designs and How Do They Work?

Passive solar home design plans have become increasingly popular over the years. The most basic definition of passive solar is that, as the home soaks up direct sunlight through south-facing windows, various elements of the home trap and retain that heat, significantly reducing the amount of energy required to heat the home. There are four key elements of passive solar home designs that we will briefly outline before moving on.

Window Orientation

The most important element of passive solar home designs is window orientation. You should integrate as many south-facing windows as possible in the design, and you should ensure that these windows are not shaded during peak sunlight hours. However, it’s also important to install shades and curtains that can block out as much of this sunlight as possible in the summer, when heat becomes an efficient home’s enemy rather than its friend.

Thermal Mass Materials

Passive solar home design plans also include materials that can store heat. In the winter, these materials can trap heat from sunlight within the home, while in the summer, they can cool the air by absorbing heat. Structural materials that have strong thermal mass ratings include concrete, stone, and brick, while decorative elements like tiling and even landscaping can also have an impact.

Distribution Mechanisms

The next aspect is to include elements into the energy-efficient home designs that can spread the solar heat around the house. The means to distribute this heat are conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction refers to heat transfer between two items that touch each other, while convection is the transfer of heat through liquid or air.

Finally, radiation is the distribution of heat from a nearby source. It’s important for your home’s architect to incorporate elements for all three types of heat distribution in order to achieve success with your passive solar home design plans.

Control Elements

Control elements are the other vital aspect of passive solar home designs. This term refers to things like roof overhangs and awnings for shade in the summer, differential thermostats to control airflow throughout the home, and various elements like vents, dampers, shutters, blinds, and more.

What Is an Ultra-Efficient Home?

The pinnacle of energy-efficient home designs is the ultra-efficient home. This type of home incorporates efficient construction materials and home appliances with a renewable energy system like a rooftop solar array. An ultra-efficient home can even include energy-efficient landscaping and air-tight structural elements. The ultimate in ultra-efficient homes is the Passive House, a certification given only to homes that pass the Passive House Alliance’s stringent requirements for passive solar home designs.

Direct Gain vs. Indirect Gain vs. Isolated Gain

There are three different types of strategies for implementation of passive solar home design plans: direct gain, indirect gain, and isolated gain. Direct gain refers to the living space itself and includes elements like south-facing windows, floors and walls made with masonry, water elements to store heat, and more.

Meanwhile, indirect gain refers to the thermal mass that exists in between the sun’s rays and the home’s living space. A good example of indirect gain is a Trombe wall, a masonry wall usually about a foot thick that sits directly behind the home’s south-facing windows. When the sun’s rays pass through the windows, their energy is absorbed by the Trombe wall and radiated into the home.

Finally, isolated gain is the process of absorbing solar radiation to generate heat. Isolated gain involves a collector mechanism to absorb the radiation, a storage element, and a distribution mechanism.

Other Elements of Energy-Efficient Home Designs

There are other factors in solar energy design for home applications, such as sunrooms made of glass to refract and absorb heat. In addition, energy-efficient window coverings (like blackout curtains or external shutters) can make any home far more efficient in the hot summer months.

If you need any assistance or advice throughout the passive solar home design process, you can reach out to LGCY Power. Our experienced representatives and reputable local solar installers can help turn your energy-efficient home designs into the passive solar home of your dreams!

The Installation Cost of a Residential Solar Energy Array

The decision to install a rooftop solar power system for your home is one that will save you money while helping protect our environment by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. What’s not to like about that? One of the frequently asked questions about installing a residential solar array is, “How much does it cost to install solar panels?”

It’s important to know how much you should expect to spend on your solar panel installation, as well as the other variables that affect energy costs. Relatively speaking, your utility company’s energy prices, your home’s sunlight exposure, the cost of the panels themselves, any relevant solar incentives, and even government trade policies can affect how much it will cost to install solar panels on a house.

Let’s walk through the many factors that determine the cost of solar for your home and discuss how much you should expect your solar panel installation cost to be.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Install?

The true cost of residential solar energy goes beyond the solar panel installation cost itself. There are many financial benefits and hurdles that can make or break the feasibility of solar energy for your home. You should start by determining the relative cost of going solar by considering the following aspects.

Analyze Your Electric Bill

Electricity costs vary depending on where you’re located. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy costs by state vary widely. The U.S. average is 10.59 cents per kilowatt-hour, but this rate may be much higher or lower based on your specific location.

For instance, energy in Louisiana costs an average of just 7.51 cents/kWh, but you’ll pay 27.55 cents/kWh on average in Hawaii. The higher your current electricity rate, the more your solar panel installation cost will make sense.

Consider How Much Sunlight Your Home Receives

Peak sun hours are another aspect in which your location determines the average cost to install solar panels. In some regions of the United States — like the corner of the Southwest where the borders of California, Nevada, and Arizona meet — a home can average six or more hours of peak direct sunlight per day.

Meanwhile, if you live in a coastal region of the Pacific Northwest, you might not even average four hours per day. Of course, the more sunlight your panels receive per day, the more energy they produce, and the lower your net solar panel installation cost becomes.

Choose Your Solar Panels

The average cost to install solar panels varies significantly based on how much energy you need to generate. Because different types of solar panels generate varying levels of energy, the brand and model of panels you choose have a significant effect on your overall solar panel installation cost.

In addition, the size of the solar array you install will also impact your costs. Find out how much energy you need to power your home and determine how many solar panels you should buy to fulfill that need. For the most part, the average cost to install solar panels for a home varies based on many factors. Keep in mind that how you buy the panels — up-front cash payment, solar loan, solar lease, etc. — will influence costs as well.

Take Advantage of Solar Incentives

The federal government offers a solar tax credit that can save you a significant amount on your solar panel installation cost. Through 2022, the Federal Residential Solar Energy Credit allows you to claim 26% of your solar installation costs, while systems installed in 2023 will be eligible for a 22% credit.

Update: In August 2022, the solar tax credit was increased to 30% and extended through 2032.

Meanwhile, different states and even some localities have their own solar incentives that can include tax credits, net metering agreements that let you sell energy back to the utility company, property tax exemptions, and more. Make sure you understand all of the incentives available in your area and how they will affect your solar panel installation cost.

Monitor Government Policies

Due to tariffs put in place in 2018, the cost of solar panels imported from other countries has risen considerably. In fact, this tariff increased solar costs by 16 cents per watt, costing solar homeowners nearly $1,000 each in total. Thankfully, the tariff expires in February 2022, so this issue won’t be a problem for much longer. Still, keep an eye on the government to make sure it doesn’t enact any new policies that negatively affect the average cost to install solar panels.

Solar Panel Installation Costs

How much does it cost to install solar panels themselves? This depends on your area, the complexity and size of your solar array, and which installer you choose. However, a good rule of thumb is that you should expect a solar installer to charge roughly one dollar per watt to install your system. Some installers go as low as 75 cents, while others have rates as high as $1.25. Of course, these rates should only be used as a rough guide — your actual solar panel installation cost can vary considerably.

In Conclusion

There are a couple of ways to reduce the overall cost to install solar panels on a house. First off, as we mentioned earlier, there are several different methods of financing a solar installation. If you find a good deal with a low down payment and a reasonable APR, for instance, you can drastically decrease your solar panel installation cost.

Additionally, choosing a trustworthy solar installer will reduce future costs related to incorrect installation methods, and most reputable installers will also provide a warranty on their services. If you still have questions about how much solar panels cost to install, get in touch with LGCY Power today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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