When it comes to investing in home improvement projects, one of the most highly recommended is installing solar panels. Not only do solar panels increase a property’s value, but they also stand to save homeowners substantially on their energy bills. Given the ever-greater cost of utilities and living, the opportunity to reduce home electricity bills is understandably attractive.
It isn’t surprising to hear that more and more homeowners in the United States are switching to solar energy. In fact, it’s estimated that a new solar project was completed every 60 seconds last year. If you are thinking of installing solar panels, you are probably wondering just how durable they are, especially in periods of inclement weather.
In this blog post, we will highlight how you can protect solar panels from hail damage. We will also explore some practical steps you can take to protect, maintain and care for your solar panels so that they last for decades. If you are thinking about installing solar panels on your property, your premier choice is LGCY Power.
What Are Hailstones?
Simply put, hailstones are small lumps of ice. They form in clouds and fall to the earth when they reach a size of at least 5 mm in diameter.
They begin as water droplets in clouds (known as cumulonimbus clouds) that freeze. Cumulonimbus clouds are thunderclouds and hailstones may form within in if the clouds are large enough and the winds are sufficiently strong.
While hailstones can be as little as 5 mm, they can occasionally be far larger in size. The largest ever recorded was a whopping 20 cm in diameter (weighing 0.88 kg), which help in South Dakota in 2010.
Destruction of property and crops because of hailstones results in $1 billion in damage in the United States each year. Since 2000, at least 4 people in the United States have died as a result of hailstones. Given the potential size of hailstones, it is therefore not surprising that they can also inflict damage on solar panels.
How Do Hailstones Damage Solar Panels?
Extreme weather is a major risk for solar panels. Of all the different extreme weather conditions, hailstones are of the utmost concern for homeowners who have or are thinking about installing solar panels.
The good news is that severe hailstorms are not common in the United States. Most solar panels can withstand light-to-moderate impact without experiencing damage. In fact, the chances of hailstones damaging solar panels are very low—less than 5% according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Still, 5% is not zero, so there is a risk to solar panels from hailstones. Certain states are more prone to hail storms than others, including Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas. Hail storms generally occur between March and October each year.
Hailstones can damage both the external surface of solar panels and also the internal components. This can result in reduced solar panel performance and unexpected costs, such as repairs or replacement.
How to Protect Your Solar Panels From Hail Damage
Next, we will highlight some of the steps that you can take to protect your solar panels from hail damage.
Choose a Durable Solar Panel
Your choice of solar panel is important, particularly if you live in an area that is prone to severe hail storms. We recommend you look for either UL 61730 or IEC 61730 solar panel ratings. These solar panels are resilient to most hail storms and have passed tests showing that they can withstand hailstones up to 3 inches in diameter traveling in at speeds of up to 88.3 mph.
We also recommend that you opt for high-quality panels that are made by a reputable solar panel manufacturer. This way, you can trust that they have used durable materials in their construction and earned performance certification for their products.
When installing solar panels, consider adjustable installation. Because of the angle that solar panels need to face, they are prone to damage from hailstones when they fall from the sky. With adjustable installation, mounted solar panels can be adjusted when necessary.
For example, if you know that a hailstorm is due in your area soon, you will turn a pole-mounted solar panels vertically. This way, the hailstones fall vertically down while not striking the front surface of the solar panels, limiting any potential damage.
Of course, this method may not work in the case of unexpected hail storms, though it’s incredibly helpful on days when you are aware of the potential for such storms.
Automatic Panel Changing System
Rather than having to manually change the angle that your solar panels are facing, you could also consider adding an automatic panel changing system. This will allow you to rotate your solar panels without the need to step outside.
The addition of such a system will naturally increase the upfront cost you will pay when adding solar panels to your property. Still, there is a great convenience factor, as you will change the angle of your solar panels with just the push of a button on a remote control.
Install a Protective Cover
A simpler and more affordable method to protect your solar panels from hailstones is to use a protective cover. Note that not all types of covers will offer hail protection, so look for one that advertises as being able to protect against the impact of hailstones.
A sturdy cover will absorb the impact of hailstones so that your panels are not affected. Depending on the specific type of solar panels you purchase and the manufacturer, there may be a specific cover that you will use. Sometimes, you may also use a blanket or tarp to cover your panels (in instances of smaller hailstones).
Apply a Protective Coating
Another option is to apply a protective coating. Adding a layer of methacrylate forms a durable, hard surface on the surface of the panels that offers additional protection. Think of this option as like adding a screen protector to your smartphone.
Instead of a polymer coating, you could also apply a layer of plexiglass over the glass planning, which will absorb the brunt of any damage from hailstones. Replacing damaging plexiglass is far easier and cheaper than either replacing or repairing solar panels.
Keep in mind that not every climate is suited to this additional layer of plexiglass. If you live in an area with high temperatures, the plexiglass may get so hot that it actually damages the solar cells that are below. Check whether this would be an option first.
Use a Wire Mesh
As we have highlighted above, the greatest risk of damage to solar panels is by larger hailstones. One inexpensive way to reduce the risk of this is to use a wire mesh over the panels.
This means that the largest hailstones won’t be able to go through to the solar panels. Any hailstones that are small enough to fit through the holes in the wire mesh are very unlikely to cause any damage to your panels, so don’t worry.
Bring the Solar Panels Indoors
If you have small, movable solar panels, this may also be an option. Simply set up a dedicated space either in your garage or house where you can store your panels during a hailstorm. Opting for movable solar panels may be a smart option if you live in an area where severe hailstorms are frequent.
Check Your Solar Panels After a Hail Storm
Whatever type of protection you choose, it is also important to visually inspect your solar panels after hailstones or a period of inclement weather. That way, you can spot any signs of damage to your panels. Before the damage is allowed to get worse, you will be able to schedule repairs.
How to Maintain Solar Panels
Next, let’s look at some general ways in which you can maintain your solar panels so that they continue to efficiently generate electricity for many years.
Perform Routine Cleanings
The good news here is that solar panels are durable and require very little maintenance. Solar panels that have been installed on a sloped roof will benefit from falling rain which will wash away any surface debris.
It is a good idea to perform routine cleaning 2 to 4 times per year. It is easy to clean solar panels, all you need is a garden hose or a leaf blower to remove any debris (such as twigs or leaves) that have settled on the panels.
It is especially important that you remove any debris following a period of bad weather. Items such as twigs can cause tiny scratches on the solar panels, which, over time, can become larger. If you spot any damage, it’s a good idea to schedule an inspection from a professional solar company.
Monitor the Health of Your System
We also recommended that you integrate a solar panel monitoring system into your solar system setup. This way, you will track exactly how much energy your solar panels produce over the course of a time and over the course of a longer period.
With this information, you can understand how external factors, such as the weather, affect the performance of your solar panels. A monitoring system will also inform you when a solar panel malfunctions or breaks, allowing you to schedule repairs without delay.
How Long Should Solar Panels Last?
Before we wrap up, let’s look at exactly how long solar panels should last, provided that they have been properly cared for and maintained.
Generally, most solar panels last for 25-plus years and have an average annual degradation rate of around 0.50%. Solar panels won’t just “go bad” one day, rather their efficiency will gradually decline. With proper care and maintenance, good quality solar panels can effectively generate electricity for up to 40 or 50 years.
Within the stated 25-plus year lifespan, certain parts of a solar panel system will require replacing. These include the solar inverter and the solar battery (if your system uses one).
Look at the efficiency of your solar panels in terms of energy production after 25 years and compare this to when they were first installed. If they still produce enough energy for your needs and none of them are broken, there is no need to have them replaced.
Consider replacing them if they produce so little electricity that they do not adequately power your home anymore.
Protect Your Solar Panels From Hail Damage
Solar panels, while durable, are susceptible to damage from hailstones. While hailstorms are not a major concern for homeowners in the United States, the above information will help you protect your solar panels from hailstorms.
If you are interested in learning more about solar power and would like to install solar panels on your property, contact the expert team at LGCY Power. We offer a free solar design and will be happy to answer questions that you may have about the solar installation process.
Click here to contact our team and discover for yourself the benefits of solar energy.
There’s no doubt that solar is making its way onto the roofs of homes across the country. People who make the switch to alternative energy not only help sustain the environment but find incredible returns on their investments. But the technology is advanced, and you might want to know a little more about how it works before you commit.
You might be asking yourself “how much does one solar panel produce?” An important question to understand how many panels you’d need to power your home. For the answer to this and more, continue reading.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
With increasing political and social demands for cleaner energy, solar panels have become a hot commodity. To understand the amount of power they produce, it’s helpful to know how they work.
Solar panels are made of a series of solar cells, which convert thermal energy into electricity. These cells are made of semiconductor material (materials that are only partially conductive) to absorb sunlight. The semiconductor materials allow the electrons from light to travel in a current to the electrical grid.
There are several types of semiconductor materials used that give solar cells different properties. Some of the features that help determine what semiconductor is used include:
- Bandgap (the sunlight wave frequency that the cell can absorb)
The most common semiconductor used in residential solar panel systems is silicon. This material is highly accessible and offers an efficient bandgap. While other photovoltaic (PV) methods allow for more efficiency, their cost makes them less suitable for residential purposes (NASA uses panels with 45% power output ratings!).
How to Calculate Solar Panel Output
As children, we were probably taught to stay away from electrical wires. The consequences of doing that are so powerful, that it might even make us cautious just thinking about them. But calculating the amount of electricity generated from solar panels is pretty straightforward.
To get started, let’s figure out how many watt-hours our panel produces. For that, we need a couple of numbers:
- The wattage of the panel (watts per hour it can produce)
- The peak sun hours in the area (here’s an easy chart breaking it down by state)
To find out how many watt-hours our panel produces per day, all we have to do is multiply the wattage by the number of peak sun hours. We’ll use an example to demonstrate. Let’s say our solar panel produces 300 watts and we’re located in Utah, which has 5.26 peak sun hours:
300 watts x 5.26 peak sun hours= 1,578 watt-hours per day
Now typically for homeowners, watt-hours are read as kilowatt-hours. So for the example above, all we need to do is divide 1,578 by 1,000. This panel can produce 1.6kWh per day.
As it relates to residential purposes, we might also want to know how to figure the amount of solar power produced per month. That’s as simple as taking our daily kWh (in this example, 1.6kWh) and multiplying it by 30:
1.6kWh x 30 days = 48 kWh per month
When wondering “how much does one solar panel produce,” this equation can help us calculate its standard output. Keep in mind that the amount of wattage can differ per panel, and there are several conditions that can affect the actual solar power output rating.
How Much Does One Solar Panel Produce?
To help us calculate our watt-hours, we need to know how much wattage one solar panel can produce in an hour. Depending on the semiconductor and the number of solar cells in the panel, the wattage can differ.
Most residential solar panels on the market have between 36 and 144 cells, which range from 100w to 400w. The most common solar panels have 60 to 72 cells for about 250w to 300w.
The PV tactics (or semiconductors used) can also affect the amount of power produced. The two main types of solar panel PV include:
- Monocrystalline, which is made of a single silicon crystal
- Polycrystalline, which uses a blend of several silicon crystals
Monocrystalline panels are often more efficient than polycrystalline. We can expect monocrystalline panels to produce 2-7% more energy, which adds up the more cells a solar panel has.
Conditions That Affect the Amount of Energy Produced
We would love for our solar panels to produce their max capability as determined under standard test conditions. Inevitably, however, there are conditions that make them less efficient.
In fact, most panels only reach 20% efficiency. When determining how much power your panel can produce, consider these factors:
Solar Panel Position
The orientation of the solar panel in relation to the sun makes a huge difference in the amount of energy captured. If sunlight can’t directly reach the solar cells, they can’t absorb it well.
When positioning a solar panel, think about where the sun is located. Every state is north of the equator, meaning the sun will always be on the south side of homes. However, homes in Florida or Hawaii will have the sun overhead more often than homes in Alaska, so consider the angle at which the panel is positioned.
We touched on this a bit earlier, but the location is important in determining the number of peak sunlight hours a panel is exposed. Geographic features such as mountains and lakes, as well as latitudinal (the lines that go horizontal) location can affect the amount of sunlight a place receives.
Here’s an example of how much this matters. Panels in Illinois (with 3.1 peak sun hours) will need over twice as much wattage as panels in Nevada (with 6.4 peak sun hours) to produce the same amount of solar power.
Shade can affect the output of a panel way more than expected. If even one solar cell is covered, it can drastically reduce the output of the entire panel.
This happens because every cell of the panel is connected to the same current. Essentially, the shaded cell acts as a clog in the current; unshaded cells can only push an amount of energy that will fit through the clog. This results in a panel that can only produce as much power as its weakest solar cell.
Believe it or not, solar panels actually lose efficiency in extreme heat. When considering adding a solar array, keep in mind that hot, summer days can drop solar production by as much as 10%.
To accommodate for hot areas, a couple of methods help keep temperatures cool. Proper solar installation allows a few inches of roof space for airflow. Additionally, different colored panels other than black will result in less heat absorption.
How Big of a Solar Panel System to Power My House?
Many homeowners look to solar as an alternative energy source. Several panels are strung together to create a solar array which varies in size depending on the amount of power needed. We can determine our energy needs based on our location and monthly power usage.
So if we’re located in Utah (as in our first example) and we use 760kWh per month, we would want 4.8kW of solar to completely cover our usage. That’s a solar array of 16 panels producing 300w each.
Of course, as briefly mentioned earlier, some places might need significantly more wattage to cover their needs. On average, residential solar arrays use 6kW of solar to cover their electrical usage.
How a Residential Solar Panel System Can Save Me Money
Many people are adopting solar systems for their power supply, not only because it’s environmentally friendly but also because it’s saving them money on their utility bills. In fact, solar arrays can save homeowners nearly 100% on electricity.
For those that opt into power storage, their savings can even turn into earnings. Residents in some cities can connect their solar system to the area’s power grid and utility companies will pay for excess power.
The biggest concern people have with switching to solar is the cost of installation. But with the rapidly growing market, even that is becoming affordable. With federal backing and state incentives, people can cut the cost of installation by over 25% or more.
Where many people find significant value is in their long-term investment. While they’re paying upfront installation costs, the system can go with little maintenance for up to 25 years. Over the life of their system, most people will find substantial savings.
How Much Can You Expect to Pay For Solar?
Now that we understand the question of how much does one solar panel produce, we can start to determine how big of a solar array we need to power our home. Regardless of the size, however, there are incredible savings to be earned.
For help estimating how much a solar array might cost us, we recommend our personalized solar estimate. As one of the top-rated solar companies, we’re committed to connecting you to the best solar options in the country.
The US power grid began serving consumers in the late 19th century and was a major factor in the fast economic uprising of the nation. Despite the fact that most people use the power grid, few understand how it works, much less the modern complications of its operation.
As more people make the switch to renewable energy, they can expect shifts in the very systems that impact their electricity use. In order to understand how these changes affect one another, one must trace its history back to its origins in Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan in 1882.
The History of the US Power Grid
The electric grid is as much a fixture of US history as the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The first recorded electric distribution systems date back to 1882 in New Jersey and Manhattan. They used direct currents across copper wires.
Historians credit Thomas Edison with creating more efficient generators to replace those used in this system. By 1907, Edison would become the first person to merge power services into a single company. Thus, the single US power grid was conceived.
From that point on, power grid expansion grew at a rapid pace. By the end of 1969, the US had over 60,000 circuit miles of power lines across the nation. But as energy sources diversify and progress, more people question whether the US power grid is the most efficient delivery system.
How the US Power Grid Works
The power grid accounts for up to 60% of the power in the US. The process of creating power and sending it to citizens happens in three steps.
Step 1: Generation
Many people are aware of natural electricity like static and lightning. But, the energy we use every day doesn’t come from thin air like those examples. Instead, electricity goes through a generation process.
Generation happens at power plants. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that there were over 11,000 power plants in the US at the beginning of 2021.
Power plants house electric generators that convert fossil fuels (like coal or oil) into usable electricity. The use of these fuels opens the power grid up to criticism at its very conception. Environmentalists attest that, as a limited resource, using fossil fuels is inherently unsustainable.
Step 2: Transmission
Think of transmission as large-scale distribution. Using long-distance power lines, massive amounts of electricity travel along the power grid to different regions. Electricity flows through these lines in two ways.
Alternating current (AC) lines change the electromagnetic fields of the voltage and current as it travels. Direct current (DC) lines carry a constant voltage and current without changing electromagnetic fields. AC is preferable within the power grid because it’s able to transform electricity at higher voltages.
Step 3: Distribution
The power lines in your neighborhood are part of the US power grid distribution system. They localize and distribute power from the regional level to each building- including your home.
Is This an Effective System?
There are many ways in which the US power grid is efficient. The three-step process by which it functions is simple, expandable, and centralized.
However, it’s anything but unshakable. Major storms or events, like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, have a huge impact on how people get power during emergencies.
More than 8 million people couldn’t access power for days following Hurricane Sandy. The storm wiped out utilities faster than they could repair or replace equipment before it was overtaken by flood waters.
Not to mention the fact that it isn’t safe for workers to fix power lines in inclement weather. However, since electricity is an amenity people rely on to survive during emergencies, not having it can prove fatal. Solving the problem of energy delivery in crisis situations is part of why there’s so much focus on alternative energy sources like solar energy to decentralize energy distribution.
The US Power Grid: Complications and Limitations
While the US power grid has a long history in the nation, the future outlook of this system is more daunting than ever. Its failures have become more frequent in recent years.
On average, each American dealt with over 8 hours of power outages in 2020. Increasing outages are an alleged result of more extreme weather patterns.
So, although the system hasn’t changed, there are more blackouts than ever before. The most obvious solution to this issue would seem to be grid modernization. For the US power grid, modernization would require moving power lines underground, making exposed lines fire-resistant, and other protections against harsh weather patterns.
So far, the Biden administration has reserved $65 billion for modernizing the US electric grid. However, the project is subject to many roadblocks. From pushback at the state level to securing permits and integrating renewable energy into the grid, it could take years to modernize.
We’ve already briefly touched on the unsustainability of the US power grid since it relies on fossil fuels. Amid America’s growing concern for the environment, more people are searching for sustainable solutions. This includes decentralizing their energy consumption using renewable energy.
Renewable energy threatens the viability of the US power grid. Even though many renewable energy users still use grid lines to power their homes, a process called net metering means they don’t pay back into the grid. With net metering, power companies must buy unused electricity back from solar energy users each month at the full rate.
While net metering encourages making the environmentally-friendly choice, it’s a financial detriment to the existing grid. As people take their power supply into their own hands, less money goes to power companies.
One way to offset this is to integrate renewable energy into grid modernization. In that way, the grid will empower people to make eco-conscious choices using it.
Alternative Energy and the US Power Grid
When people think about renewable energy in their homes, the first thing that comes to mind is rooftop solar panels. They imagine their roofs topped with large, black panels that soak up the sun and power their homes. Though popular, solar panels are but one renewable energy option for homes.
However, there are other sustainable energy integrations available. Other options include wind and hydroelectricity. Moreover, you can look into hybrid systems, such as supplementing your wind electric system with a solar battery.
When integrating renewable energy into a home or business, you have two options. The first is to connect your system to the existing grid. The second is to take it off grid. Each option has its pros and cons.
Connecting Renewable Energy to the Grid
Renewable power sources connected to the grid have a myriad of perks- the first of which is net metering. If you’re producing more electricity than you’re using, the grid diverts that power to other places. But, at the end of the month, you get paid for providing that electricity.
Moreover, you still have access to grid-generated power. That means that if your renewable power sources run out, you won’t lose access to electricity.
But, connecting your renewable energy system to the grid has its drawbacks. For example, you’ll still experience blackouts when power lines go down during extreme weather or when routine maintenance happens. That is unless you have a backup battery or generator handy.
Going Off Grid
The main perk of going off grid with renewable energy is decentralized power. The energy produced by your system is yours alone.
Of course, these systems are also susceptible to harsh weather. However, you have more control over their maintenance and repair. So, a downed pole two neighborhoods away won’t impact your access to electricity.
The downside to all off grid renewable energy options is that they are often out of your control. Even with battery storage, long stints of overcast weather can cause homes that rely on solar to lose electricity. The same goes for wind and hydropower which rely on the weather to generate energy.
Finally, depending on your power provider, you may not have a choice in whether you connect or go off grid. Your power provider will be able to tell or direct you to their requirements for renewable energy.
Will Off Grid Renewable Energy Power my Home?
One question many consumers face is whether off grid renewable energy will be enough to power their entire home. The answer to this question relies on many factors including:
- The size of your home
- How often you’re at home using electricity
- What do you use electricity for
- The abundance of renewable resources (sunshine, wind, running water)
Depending on your location, you may not be able to power an entire home on renewable energy alone. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on using it- just supplement your renewable energy with the US power grid.
How Many Solar Panels to Power a House Off Grid?
Off grid solar installation should consider your energy uses and sunlight availability at your location. Solar installers will help you figure out how much solar panel space you’ll need based on your average monthly usage and climate.
But as a general rule of thumb, experts recommend 5 kilowatts (kW) for every 1,000 square feet. Depending on the wattage you choose for each panel, that equals 15-18 solar panels for a 1,000-square-foot home.
Interested in Alternative Energy?
The US power grid is a centuries-old system in desperate need of modernization. But, with roadblocks and red tape, it’s impossible to guess just how soon that will come. In the meantime, alternative energy is the best way for consumers to empower themselves.
LGCY Power is a leading solar company that services businesses, nonprofits, government buildings, agriculture, and residential. To learn more about going solar or to get a solar installation quote from one of our licensed and experienced electricians, contact us today.
Today, the price of solar PV panels has declined by 99% since 1977. As a result, many are switching to save energy and money.
You might wonder how you could save energy and money around your home.
Well, we’re here to help! From solar panels to energy-efficient appliances, there are various options you won’t want to miss. Read this guide on how you can conserve energy and save money simultaneously.
1. Save Money by Changing Your Daily Habits
Save energy at home by turning off lights and appliances when they’re not in use. Perform household tasks manually whenever possible. These could include washing dishes by hand, hand-drying clothes, etc.
Use your air conditioner less, the same for your heat in the winter. Heating and cooling are one of the largest factors in energy costs.
2. Use a Smart Thermostat
Save money by having a programmable thermostat. You can set it to turn off cooling or heating when you’re asleep or away.
They connect with an app on your phone to give you ease of use. You’ll also be able to control it from anywhere.
Even if you forget to make adjustments, since it’s a smart thermostat, it’ll often remember what you changed it to. You’ll also be able to access various reports, including long-term and short-term energy consumption. Compare it to past reports to see ways to save electricity.
3. Reduce the Water Heater
Reduce the water heater to save money. It could also reduce mineral buildup in your pipes.
If your dishwasher has a heat booster, the dishes might not get as clean. Those with respiratory disease or a suppressed immune system might need it to stay at 140 degrees.
4. Check Your Windows
One of the top ways to save money is to replace old windows. You’ll want to find and fix drafts if that’s not an option.
Use caulk on any gaps that are less than one-quarter of an inch on windows. Only caulk the non-movable parts, such as the trim and frame.
You’ll save money on utilities by doing this. Ensure that the window treatment you choose matches the light the window receives.
Consider blackout curtains in the winter to keep your home cooler. They can reduce heat gains and save you money. Another option is cellular shades and blinds.
5. Switch Lightbulbs
Make the switch to LED lightbulbs. They have a long life span and consume the least amount of power. Use motion controls or timers for rooms, so the lights turn off automatically. Dimmer switches are another great option.
6. Replace Appliances
Check appliances to see if they need replacing. Most new appliances will last for 10 years.
Replace air conditioners, dryers, washing machines, and refrigerators first. You’ll wind up using less detergent, energy, and water. Some local utility companies will offer you a rebate.
7. Insulate Your Home
One of the top ways to save money is by sealing and insulating your home. It could reduce utility bills and improve indoor air quality. First, check for leaks.
Some common areas might include:
- Fireplace dampers
- Switch plates
- Mail slots
- Electrical receptacles
- Window frames
- Air Conditioners
- Attic hatches
- And more
Air leaks are the most common in the attic. Seal small holes.
Look for areas where the insulation is darkened. In cooler climates, you might see frosty areas in the insulation.
In warmer months, you could see water staining the areas. Use caulk to seal the openings around electrical wires and vent pipes.
Insulation should cover the area after the caulk dries. Use weatherstripping to seal up the attic access panel. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or foam board insulation and glue it to the back of the attic access panel.
8. Install Solar Panels
Solar panel installers can go over how solar panels can save you energy and money. Solar power is clean and renewable energy.
It doesn’t use pollution or fuel. It’s a great way to slash your electricity bill and help the environment.
You don’t have to buy electricity from the centralized grid either. Once it’s set up, you’ll enjoy free energy making it worth it. Solar panels also increase the property value of your home.
Many homeowners enjoy that they can sell excess energy back to the grid. That means you’ll be able to make energy for yourself while potentially making money. Many solar panels come with a performance guarantee as well.
9. Install Ceiling Fans
Use ceiling fans throughout your home. Have them spin counterclockwise in the summer to pull hot air up to the ceiling away from the living area. In the winter, have it go opposite, blowing the hot air downward.
10. Conserve Water
Consider low-flow fixtures for your toilet, faucet, and shower. Fix toilets that leak, faucets that drip, etc. Don’t keep water running while brushing your teeth.
11. Change Filters
Routinely empty or change filters on your furnace. Many companies recommend doing this monthly or quarterly to keep it performing at its best. Empty the lint filter in your dryer whenever you use it.
12. Update Your Landscaping
Plant trees since they could help with heating and cooling costs. In the summer, they provide shade to keep your home cool. In the winter months, they’ll provide a wind break.
Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home. You’ll want them to shade surfaces such as patios and driveways.
They’ll lose their leaves in the winter allowing the sun to warm your home. Plant evergreen trees on the north side of your home to shield it from cold winds each season.
13. Use the Cold Setting on Your Washer
Use cold water to wash your items. Heating water uses up a lot of energy.
You could also use a low-flow shower head to save energy too. Look for ones that have the EPA’s WaterSense certification. These are independently tested to ensure they use water pressure while reducing your hot water use.
14. Use Cloth Napkins
Use rags and cloth napkins instead of paper towels. Using dish towels or cloth napkins instead of paper towels is much more cost-effective.
You could consider cellulose sponge cloths that can be reused. Some are even biodegradable, cutting down on your carbon footprint.
15. Perform Regular Maintenance
Perform regular maintenance on appliances. When an appliance runs less efficiently, it uses more energy. Have your HVAC system inspected and tuned each year.
Change the filters as well. Dryers and refrigerators must be well maintained; they’ll cost more without them. Clean the vent hose of the dryer lint trap whenever possible.
16. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Consider upgrading to energy-efficient appliances whenever possible. This can lead to huge savings over time. Even if you replace the HVAC system, it could save money and energy compared to the old unit.
17. Plug Into Power Strips
Electronics use tons of energy when they’re in standby mode or turned off. Use power strips to turn electronics off and save on energy.
Vampire loads consume energy even when devices are in sleep mode. This could be your laptop, TV, cable box, etc.
Use a smart power strip whenever possible. Remember that a traditional power strip uses energy when it’s plugged in.
Smart power strips can save energy and cut off power. They can detect when a device is in standby mode.
18. Stop Heat From Escaping Your Home
Insulation will help to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. To ensure that you have the right amount of insulation, consider hiring an insulation professional. They’ll install additional layers as necessary to ensure it’s energy efficient.
19. Watch Appliance Usage
Reduce appliance usage by using the automatic sensor to turn off the dryer when clothes are dry. Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes. Use sensors to turn off lights and ceiling fans.
Consider investing in an energy-efficient heat pump. You could earn a rebate when you install and buy an energy-efficient heating and cooling system.
Understanding the Various Ways To Save Energy and Money
After exploring this guide, it should be clear how you can save energy and money throughout your home. Make a plan and identify what you can change to get started.
Are you dreaming of having high-quality solar panels in your home and finally not relying on the centralized grid? Not only will you be helping the earth by conserving energy, but you’ll save money on your power bill and potentially make money by selling extra energy.
Get your solar energy estimate today! If you have any questions along the way, we’re happy to help.
Considering solar panels for your home? You’re making a great decision!
Solar energy is a popular energy option, and with good reason–it’s a sustainable way to power your home. Not to mention, it can save you money in the long run.
With so many types of solar panels on the market these days, how do you know which one is right for you? We’ve got all the information you need to make an informed decision about your home’s energy future.
Solar Panel Definition
Solar panels are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They are typically made from a silicon solar cell, which creates an electrical current when exposed to light.
There are many uses for solar panels, including powering homes and businesses, charging batteries, and providing power for small electronic devices. They are becoming increasingly popular as renewable energy sources, as they do not produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They’re made up of a series of solar cells called photovoltaic cells connected with semiconducting material.
When the sun shines on the solar cells, they create an electrical current. This current is then sent to an inverter, which converts it from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). AC is the type of electricity that’s used in your home.
Solar panels are usually mounted on the roof of a home, although some homeowners install them on the ground. The angle at which they’re mounted will affect how much sunlight they receive and, as a result, how much electricity they produce.
Types of Solar Panels
There are two solar panel types: crystalline and thin-film. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll go into more detail about below.
Crystalline solar panels are made of silicon, a very common element on Earth. In fact, it’s the same material used to make computer chips. They’re the most popular solar panel on the market and come in two types: monocrystalline and polycrystalline.
Thin-film solar panels are made of a thin layer of photovoltaic material of cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), or amorphous silicon (a-Si) deposited on a substrate. Thin-film solar panels are the least efficient type of solar panel, but they’re also the lightest, most flexible, and most affordable.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels were invented in 1954, though solar energy using selenium was produced much earlier. Ten years later, NASA took solar power to space. But solar panels didn’t become popular until 1973 when the infamous oil embargo forced people to look at their energy usage closely.
The first solar-powered building, Solar One, was built by the University of Delaware in 1973. By 1974, the federal government began taking a serious look at the role solar power could play in conserving energy. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that Home Depot started selling solar panels for residential use.
Monocrystalline solar panels are made of a single, large crystal of silicon that is cut into thin wafers and connected to create a solar cell. They’re typically black and the most efficient type of solar panel available today.
- They can convert more sunlight into electricity than any other type of solar panel.
- They have a long lifespan – typically around 25 years
- They perform well in high-temperature conditions
- Made of high-grade silicon
- Requires less space than other types of solar panels
- Lifespan of 35-40 years
- They’re the most expensive type of solar panel
- They require more space than other types of solar panels
- Snow and debris can cause a circuit failure
- Not well-suited for cold weather conditions
Monocrystalline solar panels are a great option if you have a small roof or want to maximize your energy production. However, they also have a higher price tag than other solar panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
The first polycrystalline solar panels hit the market in 1981. Also called “multicrystalline” solar panels, they are similar to monocrystalline solar panels in that they both use silicon crystals. The difference is that they contain multiple smaller silicon crystals instead of just one large silicon crystal.
Solar panel manufacturers make polycrystalline solar cells by melting down large chunks of silicon and then cooling them to form small crystals. These tiny crystals are then connected to create a solar cell.
Polycrystalline solar panels are typically blue or black and are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels. That means they can convert less sunlight into electricity.
- They’re less expensive than monocrystalline solar panels
- They function well in cooler climates
- They produce less waste during manufacturing, making them more eco-friendly.
- Lifespan of 20-35 years
- They’re less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels
- They require more space than other types of solar panels
- They aren’t as attractive as other solar panels
- They degrade faster than m solar panels
Polycrystalline solar panels are a great option if you’re looking for an affordable crystalline solar panel. However, they’re not as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels and take up more space, so they may not be the best option if you have a small roof.
Polycrystalline solar panels are a good option if you have a large roof and want to save money on your purchase of solar panels.
Thin-Film Solar Panels
Thin-film solar panels are made of layers of photovoltaic material placed on top of one another. There are three types of thin-film solar panels: Cadmium telluride (CdTe), Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS), and amorphous solar panels (a-Si).
CdTe Solar Panels
CdTe solar panels arrived on the scene in 1972 and boasted a 6% efficiency rate. They are much more efficient now at 19% efficiency.
CdTe solar panels make use of a thin layer of cadmium telluride deposited on a substrate. They’re the most common type of thin-film solar panel and are quick and easy to manufacture. The layer is typically made with glass or metal and connected to electrical contacts, generating an electrical flow.
CIGS Solar Panels
CIGS solar energy was discovered in 1981 by Boeing. Its efficiency was 9.4%. Now, however, it is 17.1% efficient.
With CIGS solar panels, a thin layer of CIGS gets deposited on a glass or metal substrate. The CIGS are then connected to electrical contacts, which allow for the flow of electricity. They’re the second most common type of thin-film solar panel and are highly flexible, making them a great option if you have a unique rooftop.
The a-Si is the least common type of thin-film solar panel. They are made of a thin layer of amorphous silicon deposited on a glass or metal substrate. They’re the least efficient type of solar panel available.
- They have a long lifespan
- They’re the lightest type of solar panel
- They’re flexible
- They are visually appealing
- They’re the least efficient type of solar panel
- They require a lot of space
- They have a shorter lifespan than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.
If you have a large roof or want to install solar panels on a curved surface, thin-film solar panels are a good option. They’re also a good choice if you live in an area with a lot of cloud cover, as they’re less affected by shadows than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.
Are Solar Panels Right for Your Home?
Now that you know the types of solar energy available, it’s time to decide if solar is suitable for your home. Here are some things to consider:
- The sunlight your home receives: Solar panels need direct sunlight to work effectively. If your home is in a shady area, solar panels may not be the best option.
- The size of your roof: Solar panels take up a lot of space. If you have a small roof, you may be unable to fit enough solar panels to power your home.
- The type of roof you have: You can install solar panels on most types of roofs. Even tiled roofs support solar panels.
- Your energy needs: Solar panels are most effective when supplementing your existing energy sources. If you have a high energy need, solar panels may not be able to meet all of your needs.
- Your budget: Solar panels can be expensive. They may not be the best option if you’re on a tight budget.
If you’re unsure what solar module is right for your home, we recommend speaking to a solar panel expert. They can help you assess your needs and find the best option for your home.
What Are the Best Solar Panels for Your Home?
The best solar panels for your home depend on a few factors, including your budget, the size of your roof, and the amount of sunlight your home receives.
A monocrystalline solar panel system is perfect if you want to maximize energy production. A polycrystalline solar panel system is an excellent option if you have the space and want to save money on your solar panel purchase.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline
If you’re trying to decide between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, the most important factor to consider is their efficiency. Monocrystalline is more expensive than polycrystalline, but is also more efficient.
Solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of electricity generated from sunlight absorbed by the panel. So, the higher the efficiency, the more electricity the solar panel produces. Monocrystalline solar panels have an efficiency of 15-22%, while polycrystalline solar panels have an efficiency of 13-17%.
Monocrystalline solar panels are a great choice for small roofs, as they’ll produce more electricity. If you have a large roof, you might choose polycrystalline solar panels as they’re less expensive and will still make a significant amount of electricity.
Thin-Film vs. Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline
If your climate experiences a lot of rain and cloudy conditions, thin-film solar panels may be your best option. Thin-film solar panels are less affected by shadows than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, as they have a lower light absorption coefficient.
The light absorption coefficient is the amount of sunlight absorbed by the solar panel. The higher the light absorption coefficient, the more sunlight is absorbed, and the lower the electricity production. Thin-film solar panels have a light absorption coefficient of 5-15%, while monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have a 20-25% light absorption coefficient.
Choose thin-film solar panels if you have a large roof, a small budget, and experience less sunlight than other areas. However, you will be trading efficiency and durability for convenience.
Solar Panel Efficiency
Solar panel efficiency measures the amount of sunlight that’s converted into electricity. The higher the efficiency, the more electricity a solar panel can produce.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient type of solar panel, with an average efficiency of 20%, whereas polycrystalline solar panels aren’t quite as efficient. Even so, they still have an average efficiency of 15%. Thin-film solar panels have an average efficiency of 12%.
Solar Panel Size
Solar panel size is measured in watts. The higher the wattage, the larger the solar panel. Solar panels range in size from 50 watts to 400 watts.
The average home uses roughly 940 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month. To put this into perspective, a 100-watt solar panel can produce about 8 kWh of electricity per month; and a 400-watt solar panel can produce about 32 kWh of electricity per month.
Which Ones Are Most Attractive?
The most attractive solar panels are those that blend in with your roof. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most visually appealing type of solar panel, as they’re typically all one color. Polycrystalline solar panels are also attractive, as they have a mottled appearance. Thin-film is the least attractive type of solar panel, as they’re typically blue or black.
If you want your solar panels to be as unobtrusive as possible, thin-film solar panels are the best option. However, if you don’t mind your solar panels being visible, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are good options.
Still not sure? Type “solar panel pictures” into your web browser for a quick look at different solar panel images. Doing this will give you an idea of each type of solar panel.
Solar Panel Warranties
Most solar panels have a 25-year warranty to protect against defects and performance deterioration.
Some manufacturers offer extended warranties for an additional cost.
Solar Panel Maintenance
Solar panels require very little maintenance. It’s best to clean your panels every few months to remove dirt, dust, and leaves. You can clean your panels with a hose, a brush, or a sponge.
You should also check your panels regularly for signs of damage, such as cracks or scratches.
Can Solar Panels be Recycled?
The short answer is yes, solar panels can be recycled. In fact, most solar panels are made with materials that can be reused or recycled.
The recycling process starts by crushing the solar panels into small pieces. Then, the pieces are cleaned and smelted down to extract the materials. Finally, the materials are separated and melted down again to create new solar panels.
Solar panels can be recycled over and over again, making them a very sustainable product. And, recycling solar panels helps to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. So, not only are solar panels good for the environment, but recycling them is good for the environment too.
Solar Plus Storage
Solar plus storage is a system that includes solar panels and a battery. Solar plus storage systems allow you to store energy from the sun for use at night or during a power outage.
Solar plus storage systems are more expensive than traditional solar panel systems, but offer peace of mind and energy savings. They are becoming more popular as battery technology improves and the cost of batteries decreases.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing Solar Panels
Before investing in solar panels, you should consider a few things. First, you need to determine how much electricity you need to produce. Knowing how much electricity you use will help you determine the size of the system you need.
You need to consider the installation cost and compare it to the cost of buying electricity from your utility company. To help offset the price, state and local governments offer incentives for purchasing and using solar panels.
Solar panels may not be the most suitable option for your home in certain instances due to age or tree cover. If there are trees near your property that shade your roof excessively, rooftop solar systems may not be the best choice.
The size, form, and slope of your roof are also factors to consider. Solar panels perform best on roofs with a slope of 15 to 40 degrees, although other roofs may also work.
You should also consider how soon you will need to replace your roof. If you need to replace your roof relatively soon, it is best to hold off installing solar panels until you can do so.
Installing Solar Panels: Can I Do It Myself?
Once you’ve decided which type of solar panel is right for your home, the next step is to install them. Installing solar panels requires specialized training and equipment.
As such, it’s not something most homeowners should do themselves. A professional knows the ins and outs of solar panel installation.
If you live in an area with high electricity costs, installing solar panels may prove to be an eco-friendly way to save money. With the right solar panel system, you can produce all the electricity you need to power your home.
Incentives to Installing Solar Panels
There are many incentive programs available to encourage homeowners to install solar panels. These incentives can reduce the cost of solar panel installation by 30% or more.
The federal government offers a tax credit for solar panel installations. The tax credit is 26% of the cost of the system, up to $2,000. State and local governments also offer incentives, such as rebates and tax credits.
LGCY Power does not offer advice on accounting or tax related matters. We recommend to all of our clients that they consult with a certified tax professional.
How Will Solar Panels Impact the Resale Value of my House?
How solar panel systems impact the resale value of your home depends on several factors, such as the system’s cost, the system’s size, and the system’s age.
Solar panel systems generally increase home resale value based on the kilowatt (kW) of installed capacity.
Solar Panel Cost
Solar panel costs have fallen drastically in recent years, making them more affordable than ever. The cost of a solar panel system depends on the type of solar panels you choose, the size of your system, and the installation costs in your area. The average price of a solar panel system is varies, depending on the type of solar panel system and the state you live in.
Save Money in the Long Run
The amount of money you save by using solar panels depends on the cost of electricity in your area, the size of your system, and the amount of sunlight your home receives. Many homeowners save about 75% on their electric bill after switching to solar.
A Solar Panel System Will Eventually Pay for Itself
The payback period is the amount of time it will take for your solar panel system to pay for itself. The payback period depends on your system’s size, the electricity cost in your area, and the incentives you receive. Generally, you can expect a payback period of 7 to 12 years.
Financing Solar Panels
There are a few different options available for financing solar panels. You can pay for the system outright, take out a loan, lease the system, or use a power purchase agreement (PPA).
Paying for the system outright is the best option, as you’ll save on interest payments. However, not everyone has the upfront cash to pay for a solar panel system.
Leasing and Loans
You can finance it with a loan if you don’t have the cash to pay for a solar panel system outright. Many types of loans are available, so you’ll need to compare options to find the best rate.
Leasing a solar panel system is another option. With a lease, you make monthly payments to the leasing company. The leasing company is the owner of the solar panel system and is responsible for maintenance and repairs.
At the end of the lease, you have the choice to purchase the system or renew the lease.
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
A PPA is a type of financing that allows you to pay for the electricity that your solar panel system produces. With a PPA, you enter into an agreement with a solar developer. The developer owns the solar panel system and is responsible for maintenance and repairs.
You agree to purchase the electricity that the system produces at a fixed rate for a set period. After the contract expires, you can renew the agreement or purchase the system outright.
Decrease Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels
Solar power is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. And there’s a good reason for that. Solar energy is a renewable resource used to generate electricity, heat water, and even power entire homes and businesses.
Knowing about the different types of solar panels available is the first step to getting started with solar. Now you can start shopping for the perfect solar panel system for your home!
Making the switch to solar power has never been more accessible or affordable. At LGCY Power, we have a deep understanding of solar power and what it takes to make the switch.
We’ll work with you to develop a custom solar plan that fits your needs and budget. We’ll handle all the details, from paperwork to installation.
So if you’re ready to make the switch to solar power, fill out a simple form to receive a free estimate, or give us a call today for a free quote.