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.
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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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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
In general, we find that the public’s knowledge base regarding the benefits of solar energy expands a bit more with each passing year. Today, most people seem to understand that installing a residential solar power system can help them save money compared to buying energy from the utility company and also protect our environment by avoiding fossil fuels.
That said, many homeowners still have plenty to learn regarding the wide variety of benefits of residential solar panels. What are the benefits of solar energy? In addition to saving money and reducing your carbon footprint, you can obtain financial support from the government, improve the resale value of your home, and achieve energy independence.
Let’s discuss the wide-ranging benefits of solar energy to the environment and your wallet. Is installing a residential solar energy array the right move for you?
The Benefits of Solar Energy
Saving Money on Electric Bills
If you’re a homeowner, you already know how expensive buying electricity from a traditional utility company can be. For many homeowners, the electric bill is the most costly bill to arrive each month. However, installing even a relatively small solar energy system can generate enough energy to power your home and even sell some energy back into the grid, if you live in an area with net metering regulations.
Net metering is an agreement with your power company that trades credit on your electric bill for the extra energy your system produces. In other words, the agreement allows a homeowner to sell the power that can’t be used on sunny days in exchange for energy that can’t be generated at night or on overcast days. You can save so much money on your electric bills that the return on investment often exceeds 10% per year, making residential solar energy one of the best investments a homeowner can make.
Government Incentives and Financial Support
We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg regarding the financial benefits of solar energy. That’s because federal, state, and even local government entities financially support homeowners who install residential solar panels. The federal government’s solar tax credit runs through the end of 2023 and provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed by December 31, 2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023.
Update: In August 2022, the solar tax credit was increased to 30% and extended through 2032.
In addition, each state has its own regulations regarding residential solar incentives. Depending on your state, you may have access to some of these programs:
- Solar Renewable Energy Certificates – This program exchanges certificates (worth $300 or more in some states) to homeowners in return for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of solar energy each.
- Performance-Based Incentives – Some states pay homeowners incentives tied to the output of their residential solar systems. These programs offer a predetermined ratio of dollars per-kilowatt hour.
- Subsidized Solar Loans – This type of loan makes it easier for homeowners to afford renewable energy upgrades to their homes, allowing them to generate electricity while increasing the value of their homes.
Increasing Your Home’s Resale Value
Do people prefer to buy homes that have residential solar energy systems installed? According to Zillow, the answer is a resounding “yes.” In 2019, Zillow published a study that determined adding solar panels to a home increases its value by more than 4%, providing a nearly $10,000 boost to the home’s sale price.
In some states, the improvement to your home’s resale value can be even higher. For example, homes in New Jersey gain nearly 10% in resale value if they have solar panels installed! How much value you can expect a residential solar array to add to your home varies based on the size of the system and how much energy costs in your area, but for the most part, 4% is a reasonable expectation.
Reducing Your Home’s Carbon Footprint
The benefits of solar energy to the environment are extensive and could fill their own article. That said, reducing the carbon footprint of your home is one of the absolute best reasons for installing a rooftop solar energy array. As far as the steps one individual can take to protect our environment, converting your home to solar power is near or at the top of the list. If you want to do your part to keep our air and water healthy for generations to come by reducing your carbon emissions, installing a residential solar power system is a great place to start.
Achieving Energy Independence
This benefit ties into a couple of our previous categories, but it’s so important that we felt the need to highlight it on its own. So far, we’ve discussed the individual benefits of solar energy, but now it’s time to think bigger. Every time an American homeowner installs a residential solar energy array, the United States comes one small step closer to energy independence.
Instead of being reliant on foreign countries to sell us fossil fuels at whatever they deem to be a fair price, we can create our own electricity and someday end our need for imported petroleum and oil. Energy independence creates economic security and environmental responsibility for our nation, which is something that people on every part of the political spectrum can agree is worth pursuing.
So, what are the benefits of solar energy? As you can see, there are quite a few of them, and each one on its own presents a convincing argument in favor of residential solar power installation. If you combine them, they present an overwhelmingly positive picture of how you can fully take advantage of the benefits of residential solar panels.
Do you still have questions about the benefits of solar energy? Contact LGCY Power today at 855.391.1038 and we’ll be happy to discuss this topic with you in-depth. We can even set up an in-person appointment with one of our local solar installers to analyze your home and design the ideal solar power array for your needs.
There are quite a few common questions associated with installing solar panels for your home. One important question we hear all the time is, “How long do solar panels last on a house?” The answer to this question can have a significant impact on the overall affordability of your residential solar array, as a short lifespan could entirely undermine the financial benefits of solar energy.
Thankfully, most solar panels last for roughly 25-30 years, which is plenty long enough for your solar energy system to more than pay for itself. That said, your panels won’t simply stop functioning once they hit the 25-year mark. Rather, they will degrade to the point where they no longer meet the manufacturer’s projected output level.
There are several important aspects to understanding the true lifespan of solar panels, and we’ll cover them one by one in this analysis. How long do solar panels last on average? Let’s find out.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Solar Panel Degradation Rate
Depending on the make and model of your solar panels, the degradation rate of each panel may vary quite a bit. Still, for the most part, the typical solar panel loses around 0.5% of its output potential with each year it’s in use. This is a significant upgrade in lifespan in less than a decade, as a 2012 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicated that solar panels lost roughly 0.8% of their energy output annually.
How long do solar panels last before they reach the end of their useful lifespan? If we assume that the manufacturer intended the panels to operate efficiently for 30 years, they should still maintain roughly 85% of their capacity. While this is a noticeable loss of efficiency, it’s much better than the ~75% output you’d have left if degradation levels were still where they were ten years ago.
Elements That Impact Solar Panel Lifespan
How long do solar panels last when you factor in some variables? There are four key factors that determine how quickly your solar panels will degrade. The first, is the quality of solar panels you purchase to begin with. The higher quality panels you buy, the longer you can expect them to last.
The climate in your area also makes a big difference. Extreme weather events can wreak havoc on solar panels, so if you live in a region that frequently experiences thunderstorms, blizzards, and other severe storms, you should expect a shorter lifespan for your solar panels.
Finally, the installation and maintenance of a solar panel can also affect its useful lifespan. If your solar installer installs your panels incorrectly, it could shorten their lifespan by a matter of years. The same goes for maintenance — having your solar panels regularly cleaned and maintained is one of the best things you can do to expand their lifespan.
The Effect of Reduced Efficiency on Energy Savings
In addition to “How long do solar panels last,” another good question is how much decreased output can affect the value proposition of a residential solar energy system. As your solar panels lose efficiency, the cost savings compared to buying energy from the utility company shrinks as well.
This is especially true if you installed enough solar panels to generate extra electricity that you sell back into the grid through a net metering agreement. If your panels lose enough of their output potential, you won’t have any excess energy to send to the grid, and you might need to start buying electricity from the power company again.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Replace Your Solar Panels?
How long do solar panels last before it’s time to swap them out for new ones? The answer isn’t quite as simple as waiting for 25-30 years! In general, you should replace your solar panels if they degrade to the point where they’re no longer providing enough juice to power your entire home. In addition, if you’ve slacked on maintenance and you have broken or damaged panels in your system, it’s time to replace them with new ones.
However, even if your panels are several decades old, they may not need replacement if they’re still in good physical shape and still producing sufficient energy for your needs.
What Can I Do to Extend the Lifespan of My Solar Panels?
There are several ways to make your solar panels last longer. Below we have highlighted some methods that will help your solar panels last as long as possible before requiring replacement.
First and foremost, you should have your solar installer perform regular routine maintenance check-ups. This is the best way to get out in front of any potential issues, as your installer can check for panel degradation and ensure all connections are properly hooked up.
The other major aspect of extending solar panels’ lifespan is to keep them clean and clear of debris. Loose branches, hailstones, and other materials can cause impact damage to solar panels — and the longer they remain on your panels, the more pressure they apply and the more damage they can cause.
Likewise, any large snow drifts on your roof should be swept free of your panels, which not only makes them less susceptible to damage but also increases their ability to receive direct sunlight. Finally, washing your panels with water can help get rid of any sand, dirt, or dust particles that can crack and scratch them.
For the most part, solar panels last roughly 25-30 years, but there are many things you can do to extend (or shorten) the lifespan of your residential solar energy array. As long as your panels are properly installed, cleaned, and maintained, you may find that the useful lifespan of your solar panels actually extends beyond the 30-year timeframe.
If you’re still curious about any details, or you want to get an estimate on how much it would cost to install solar panels for your home, give LGCY Power a call today at 855.353.4899. Our representatives can help answer any questions you have — including “How long do solar panels last on average?” — and also send a local solar installer to your home to provide an estimate for your installation.
You’ve decided to install a solar energy array for your home, and you’re ready to take the next step. This means it’s time to find a solar installer who can provide the products and services you want, deliver the customer experience you deserve, and present the financing options you need. One of the most common questions we hear from people in your position is, “How do I find the best solar companies near me?”
As it turns out, the “best solar installers near me” can be hard to identify if you don’t have a trusted partner like LGCY Power for your residential solar installation. However, there are some specific requirements you should look for when searching for the “best solar panel companies near me.” Let’s walk through these requirements one by one and discuss how you can use them to find the right installer for the job.
What to Look for in the “Best Solar Companies Near Me”
Diverse Product Offering
When seeking the best solar panel installers near me, we always recommend choosing a company that offers options when it comes to the solar array elements. Does the installer offer several different types of solar panels, allowing you to choose the best option for your home? Do they offer various brands — Tesla, LG, etc.? Do they offer solar batteries? Do they sell all three common types of solar inverters (string inverters, power optimizers, and microinverters), or just one? We always recommend having options, and that definitely holds true when analyzing the product offerings of various solar installers.
“What services do the best solar companies near me offer?” This is another common question we hear from our customers. The answer is that we always prefer companies that both sell and install solar equipment, therefore allowing homeowners to only work with one company instead of splitting these tasks between two service providers. This ensures that the installer knows all the details of the products they’re installing, providing the peace of mind that the job will be completed correctly.
How do you know you’re finding the “best solar installers near me” when it comes to customer satisfaction? We recommend choosing a company that has extensive experience. You should always make sure your chosen installer has certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). The NABCEP only provides accreditation for solar installers who pass a rigorous training program and meet or exceed national standards for installers.
Solar Installation Warranties
You should also focus on companies that back up their services with strong warranties. Your solar panel manufacturer will provide both performance and equipment guarantees, ensuring your system remains highly functional for at least a decade or more. That said, a vital element of finding the best solar panel companies near me is choosing an installer that offers a workmanship warranty. This will ensure that your installer stands by their work and is ready to address any problems that may arise in the future.
There are three main options for financing a residential solar installation. You can buy the whole thing with cash, use a solar loan, or enter into a solar lease (also known as a power purchase agreement). Solar loans and leases are quite similar, with the exception being that you own your solar array with a solar loan, while a solar lease has you renting the system. All three options have their pros and cons. If you have truly found the “best solar companies near me,” they will offer all three types of financing plans, giving you the options you need for your financial situation.
Area of Service
Are the best solar installers near me smaller local companies or large national installers? Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. A local company may have greater expertise regarding the incentives available and permits required in your area. However, a major national installer will have loads of experience and may offer lower rates due to purchasing solar components wholesale. This is where LGCY Power comes in — we partner with hundreds of local solar installers to make sure you get the regional expertise you need while still enjoying the benefits of a major national company.
Solar Brands Offered
The best solar installers near me typically offer more than one brand of solar panel. There are many differences between various solar panel manufacturers. Some provide premium products, while others sell value-oriented solar panels. There can be dramatic variations in quality between different models produced by the same company as well. Whether you prefer Panasonic, LG, Tesla, SunPower, Canadian Solar, or another popular brand, it’s nice to have a variety of brands to choose from.
Final Thoughts About the Best Solar Installers Near Me
“How do I determine the best solar installers near me?” As you can see, the answer has several layers and is far from simple. You’ll know you’ve found the right installer for your home when you find a company that offers the products and services you want, provides a great customer experience, and can help you with warranties and financing options.
Here at LGCY Power, we believe we offer homeowners the best of both worlds with our balance of local expertise and nationwide experience. Give one of our representatives a call today at 855.353.4899 and we’ll help you find solutions for any questions you may have. If you’re interested in a consultation, we can set up an appointment for one of our reputable local installers to visit your home and analyze its suitability for a solar power installation.
Do you want to install a rooftop solar energy array for your home, but you don’t like the way traditional solar panels look? Solar panels can be rather large, and their bulky appearance on your roof can certainly stand out. Some modern roof design aesthetics can incorporate solar panels that don’t detract from the overall look of your roof — for instance, modern flat roofs and shed roofs can hide solar panels quite well. On the other hand, solar panels can entirely disrupt the appearance of a gable roof.
With this in mind, some solar manufacturers now offer an alternative to standard rooftop solar panels: solar shingles. In essence, solar roof shingles are just a smaller version of typical solar panels, made to integrate seamlessly with the design of your rooftop. Instead of mounting them on a rack on top of your roof, you will instead install solar shingles on the actual roof, much like you would install a typical shingle. Let’s dig into the details of solar roof shingles and determine if they’re a good choice for your residential rooftop solar array.
What Are Solar Shingles? How Do They Work?
Solar shingles are a relatively recent development, as they have only been widely available since the mid-2000s. Instead of mounting your solar panels above your roof, you can instead integrate them with the design of your rooftop, creating a seamless aesthetic that makes the solar roof shingles barely noticeable. In fact, you can think of solar shingles as being both construction materials and energy sources simultaneously!
Solar shingles work almost identically to traditional solar panels: they generate electricity by converting solar energy into usable power for your home. While you can install solar roof shingles anytime you’d like, most homeowners choose to install them while repairing or replacing a roof. For new homes, you’ll often see workers installing solar shingles while building the roof itself.
Not only is it easier to combine these tasks, but it can also significantly reduce costs by killing two birds with one stone. If you find a roofing company that has experience with solar roof shingles, you can often hire them to handle both the construction or repair of the roof itself and the installation of your solar shingles.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Shingles
There are some pretty clear-cut pros and cons with solar roof shingles that could sway your decision one way or the other.
Starting with the advantages, by far the most impactful benefit is their aesthetic quality. While some people don’t mind the way traditional rooftop solar arrays look, others avoid them because of the way they disrupt the appearance of their roofs. This is much less of a factor with solar shingles, which can be integrated with your standard shingles in a way that presents a sleek, seamless appearance.
The other big advantage of solar shingles is how durable they are. Unlike standard solar panels, solar shingles are often manufactured to a higher standard of durability. In fact, solar roof shingles are often able to withstand the force of a hurricane! For instance, Tesla claims that its solar shingles can handle wind speeds exceeding 165 miles per hour, and withstand hail larger than a golf ball.
Finally, in some instances, solar shingles can be quicker to install, as they don’t require as many mounts and brackets as solar panels. In addition, solar roof shingles are much smaller than typical solar panels, making them easier to install in this regard as well.
First and foremost, solar shingles are more expensive than solar panels, often by a significant margin. If you’re trying to create the most cost-effective rooftop residential solar energy system possible, you will not be using solar roof shingles.
Another issue is that it can be much harder to find a solar installer for shingles. While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of reputable companies installing solar panels across the country, there is a significantly shorter list of solar shingle installers. Because of the increased specialization required, you might find that installation costs for solar shingles exceed those of typical panels as well.
Additionally, if your roof isn’t sloped at the correct angle or in the right direction, you may need the brackets and mounts of traditional solar panels to achieve the correct slope. Continuing along these lines, it’s easier to shift a standard rooftop solar array once it’s installed, while solar shingles are fixed in place on your roof.
Finally, solar roof shingles are simply far less efficient than standard panels. If you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to pricing, efficiency, and production, you will almost always find that a typical solar panel is a superior option compared to solar shingles.
Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels: Which Is the Best Choice for You?
Everyone’s situation is different, and no two roofs are the same. That’s why we always advise our readers to get in touch with LGCY Power at 855.353.4899 to learn more about their options. Our expert representatives can help you determine whether solar shingles or solar panels are the right call for your roof. We can also schedule an appointment for one of our local installers to visit your home for an in-person analysis. That said, we’ll close this discussion by outlining a few general statements about when solar roof shingles are the better option, and vice versa.
Solar shingles are typically a good choice if you already need to replace your roof (or you’re building a new home) because you can save money doing two things at once. In addition, solar roof shingles are far and away the better option for aesthetics, as they’re much easier to blend into the design of your roof. Finally, solar shingles may not be an option for you at all if your rooftop is not already sloped at an angle appropriate for solar energy generation.
For more information, contact LGCY Power today!
For decades now, adding a solar energy system to a residence has been a great way for homeowners to cut down on energy costs and protect our environment. Solar panels first started becoming popular in the 1980s, and today many homeowners around the world have solar energy arrays on their rooftops. While solar panel technology isn’t exactly a new development, there are still researchers looking for ways to make solar panels more effective, efficient, and affordable for homeowners.
There are several different types of new solar panel technology currently in development. Some of them could even alter the future of renewable energy as we know it! Let’s take a deep dive into the details of several of the latest solar panel technology advancements and see if any of them might be a promising option to power your home in the near future.
In March 2021, the United States federal government announced that it was spending more than $125 million to improve the cost efficiency of solar energy. Nearly one-third of this money went toward the research and development of perovskite materials, which scientists hope can make solar panels more efficient than ever.
While perovskite materials are a relatively new solar panel technology, perovskites themselves were originally discovered back in the 1830s. However, it has only been since the 1990s that researchers have looked into the potential impact of perovskite materials on solar panel technology. Currently, scientists are examining whether this solar panel technology can supplement or even replace the silicon cells that have powered solar panels for more than a half-century.
The advantages of perovskite materials begin with how relatively cheap and easy it is to make perovskite solar cells. The process also doesn’t require as much heat as silicon cells, which could possibly further reduce manufacturing costs. While perovskite solar panel technology isn’t currently as efficient as silicon cells, researchers are closing the gap quickly, and efficiencies are now getting very close between the two materials.
Another exciting aspect of this new solar panel technology is how perovskite solar cells can be applied to thin sheets. This raises the possibility of perovskite materials being used to create flexible plastic films that can be affixed to surfaces that can’t handle a typical solar array. For example, consider the exterior of a vehicle, or even the fabric used to create clothing.
Perovskites also show great potential when paired with silicon to create a two-in-one solar cell that generates electricity from many different light waves. While silicon cells can only take advantage of a few wavelengths of light, a silicon cell coated with perovskite could generate energy from a much wider range of light waves.
However, there’s a reason perovskite materials haven’t yet become the most popular solar panel technology. At this time, perovskite cells lack durability, and researchers expect that it could be several more years before they’re able to develop a perovskite solar panel that can match the long lifespan of a silicon cell panel.
Floating Solar Farms
Perovskite materials are far from the only example when it comes to the latest solar panel technology. For instance, floating solar farms are becoming more common. The first large-scale floating solar farm was built in 2008, and they’ve slowly gained popularity since then. Not only do floating solar farms enable developers to build massive commercial solar arrays without using up valuable land, but the water they float on helps cool and clean the panels.
Floating solar farms aren’t yet common for residential applications, but it’s not difficult to imagine a near future in which homeowners add small floating solar farms to ponds, pools, and other bodies of water on their property.
Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is another promising new solar panel technology, as these elements can be built into the architecture of a structure, creating a seamless aesthetic instead of mounting solar panels on a rooftop. With BIPV technology, homeowners can save money by swapping out traditional construction materials for BIPV solar panels, killing two birds with one stone. BIPV panels can be used on floors, facades, and more, producing superior energy efficiency, thermal insulation, and cost-efficiency, all while having a minimal carbon footprint.
Solar Skins and Fabrics
Solar skins are a photovoltaic solar panel technology that allows manufacturers to print patterns and designs on solar panels. These allow homeowners to hide their solar panel arrays by printing custom designs embedded into each panel, creating a type of camouflage that can blend seamlessly into your roof aesthetic.
Similarly, solar fabrics are an interesting new solar panel technology that can blend in with the existing aesthetics of a home. For instance, solar fabrics could be used in awnings or curtains, providing multiple purposes for existing elements of your house. Solar skins are currently relatively expensive, and solar fabrics aren’t quite ready for market yet, but someday soon these could be strong options to power your home.
Photovoltaic Solar Noise Barriers
With photovoltaic solar noise barriers (PVNB), we encounter another multitasking form of new solar panel technology. Currently, PVNBs are being designed to replace standard highway traffic noise barriers, providing a sound-reducing wall that also generates electricity. Once these hit the market, we imagine that it won’t be long before PVNBs are available for homeowners to use as fencing material.
Other Promising Developments
There are so many new solar panel technologies that it’s hard to discuss them all in-depth here. However, we also wanted to mention the development of several advancements that are still a few years away. Solar roads are currently in a trial phase, and they could someday find residential use in the form of solar driveways and sidewalks. Solar paint is looking like it will hit the market within the next few years as well. Finally, while solar windows are currently experiencing some efficiency issues in tests, further research will almost certainly refine and improve this new solar panel technology as well.
As you can see, there are plenty of exciting new solar panel technologies. While not all of them are ready for residential use, the solar energy options for homeowners could proliferate in the coming years. For more information about installing residential solar energy systems, contact LGCY Power at 855.903.1909 and one of our expert representatives will help you iron out the details.
Most homeowners know that solar energy can save them money compared to purchasing electricity from their utility company. In addition, the vast majority of people realize that solar energy is a far more environmentally friendly option to power their homes than fossil fuels are. However, we find that many people still don’t know how much energy they could generate with a residential solar power system.
How much power does a solar roof generate? There are plenty of variables involved in answering this question, so let’s walk through them one by one and determine how each of them affects the output of a solar power roof.
How to Determine Your Home’s Solar Energy Potential
There are many variables involved with assessing a home’s solar energy potential. From the angle of your roof to where it’s located to the square footage you have available, it’s difficult for us to provide a one-size-fits-all answer for the question, “How much power does a solar roof generate?” That said, most roofs have the potential to produce far more energy than your home could ever use.
The typical American rooftop measures around 1,700 square feet. With the average solar panel being square with 17.5 feet per side, we can assume that an average roof should be able to hold roughly 100 solar panels, which would generate enough electricity to power your home several times over. That said, how can we figure out the solar energy potential of your rooftop?
While this won’t produce an exact estimate, you can probably get pretty close. All you need to do is divide the square footage of your rooftop by 17.5, giving you the number of panels that can fit on your roof. Then, you can multiply that number by the wattage rating of your solar panels (usually somewhere between 250 and 400 kWh) to come up with the energy potential of your solar power roof.
How Much Does Geography Affect Solar Generation?
Where you live has a significant effect on how much power your solar roof generates. The potential of a solar power roof is directly tied to how much sunlight it receives on a typical day, which varies greatly based on your location within the United States. For instance, roofs in Arizona and Nevada routinely surpass six hours of direct peak sunlight per day, while parts of New England and the Pacific Northwest don’t even get four hours. (The sun is up for longer than this, but solar energy potential relies on direct peak sunbeams.)
This means that the exact same system installed on a roof in Phoenix can generate nearly twice as much energy per year as it can in Boston. To figure out how much energy potential you should expect from your solar power roof, check out this helpful solar irradiance map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which indicates how many kilowatt-hours your rooftop array can generate per square meter of roof space per day.
How Does the Size of Your Roof Affect Solar Energy Potential?
Roof size is another major determinant of your home’s solar energy potential. The bigger your roof, the more solar panels you can put on it, and the more electricity you can generate. It’s important to remember that you likely won’t cover your entire rooftop with wall-to-wall solar panels, so take these figures with a grain of salt. That said, it’s still eye-opening to see how much roof size correlates to residential solar energy potential.
If you have a very small home with a 500 square foot rooftop, you can probably only fit 25-30 solar panels on your roof. How much power does a solar roof generate with this little space? If you assume an average of five hours of direct peak sun per day, this system would likely generate somewhere between 40,000-50,000 kWh per year. Meanwhile, if your rooftop has 2,000 square feet available for solar panels, it could generate around 185,000 kWh per year with the same amount of daily sunlight. For reference, the typical American home uses around 11,000 kWh per year, so either system would produce much more electricity than you could reasonably use.
Which Variables Most Affect a Rooftop’s Solar Energy Potential?
For some homeowners, solar power roof space might be a big deal, especially if your roof is heavily shaded or if it’s angled in a manner that slopes away from direct sunlight. However, most residential rooftops have vastly more space than you would ever need for your solar energy array, so this really isn’t much of a factor for most homeowners.
The size and production of your solar energy system itself is always a factor, as more efficient solar panels can generate more electricity with the same footprint. Likewise, the efficiency of your system’s solar inverter can make a big difference, especially when comparing relatively low-efficiency string inverters to higher-efficiency inverters like optimized string inverters and microinverters.
Unfortunately, the biggest variable for many homeowners is one that they can’t change: location. If you live in a city that doesn’t receive much daily direct sunlight (like Seattle, for example), it’s unavoidable that you will need more solar panels to generate the energy you need to run your home. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still entirely possible to create a cost-efficient solar power roof for a home in Seattle, but it might take a larger upfront investment to make it a reality.
If you have any further questions about the energy potential of a residential solar power roof, don’t hesitate to reach out to LGCY Power (855.949.1824) at your convenience. We would be happy to talk you through the process of determining how much solar energy you can generate for your home!
Many homeowners across the country have discovered the wide-ranging benefits of installing residential solar energy systems. Adding a solar array to your home is one of the best things you can do for the environment, as you’re replacing energy generated from fossil fuels with clean and endlessly renewable energy from the sun’s rays. In addition, you can save a significant amount of money by generating your own electricity rather than purchasing it from your utility company.
Even though solar panels have been around for decades and have generated countless kilowatts of energy, the fact remains that many people don’t really know how solar panels work. We think that the more you understand about solar energy, the more likely you are to want a solar array for your home. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the details and answer the question, “how do solar panels work?”
The Basics of Solar Energy
Solar energy is the ultimate renewable energy source because it will not run out or become scarce for many thousands of years to come. The sun’s rays contain plentiful energy, so all we need to do is find a way to convert these rays of light into useful electricity to run our homes. That’s where solar panels come in. Solar panels include cells called photovoltaics, which are connected together to create modules. Each solar panel includes several of these modules. When light hits your solar panels, the photons and electrons in the light beam are separated, and that separation is what generates electricity.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
While the exact science behind solar energy generation is a bit complicated, it’s not hard to break it down into easily understood phases.
Sunlight Hits Your Solar Panels
The first phase takes place when sunlight reaches your solar panels. The photovoltaic (PV) cells in each panel transfer the raw sunlight into electricity in the form of direct current. However, your home runs on alternating current (AC), not direct current (DC), so the next step will need to include transforming this energy into a form your home can use.
Solar Inverters Transform Energy Currents
That’s why your rooftop solar array will include an inverter to convert the DC energy generated by your solar panels into AC electricity to power your home. The most common form of inverter for home use is a string inverter, which connects your solar panels into groups before converting the energy. An optimized string inverter (also known as a power optimizer) is more efficient than a standard string inverter because it automatically sends fixed-voltage current to the inverter. Because a traditional string inverter also has to fix the voltage, it doesn’t produce electricity as efficiently as the optimized version.
The other option is microinverters. How do solar panels work with microinverters, and why are they becoming so popular? Instead of relying on a centralized inverter, microinverters attach to each panel. The microinverters then convert DC into AC for each panel individually, rather than connecting them into groups first. This further increases energy efficiency by maximizing the output of each individual panel.
AC Electricity Powers Your Home
At this point, your solar panels have captured the sun’s rays, and your solar inverter has converted that energy into AC electricity. If everything has gone according to plan thus far, the solar energy your system has harvested will now be flowing through your home’s electric system, powering all of your electronic appliances and devices. But how do solar panels work when they generate more energy than your home can use at a given time?
Excess Energy Is Stored in a Battery or Sent to the Grid
This phase all depends on whether or not you include a solar battery in your home’s solar energy system. If you do have a battery, then any excess energy will be stored in the battery until your home needs it. If you opt not to include a battery, you’ll send your extra electricity to the grid. Either way, you’ll be able to pull more energy to your home whenever you need it. The difference is where that energy comes from.
With a solar battery, the energy your panels produce stays right there at home, waiting for a time when your home uses more electricity than it generates, such as at night or during storms. Without one, your home will instead import electricity from the utility company’s power grid. If you live in an area with net metering regulations, your utility company will give you credits in exchange for any energy you send to the grid. Then, when your home needs extra juice, the utility provider will power your home until you run out of credits, at which point you would need to pay its standard rate for electricity.
There are complicating factors but for the most part, it’s smart to have a solar battery if you don’t have access to net metering agreements. Without net metering, sending energy back and forth to the utility company is a potentially costly venture that undermines much of the point of installing residential solar energy to begin with.
Now that you know more about how solar panels work, we hope it’s easier for you to decide whether installing a solar energy system for your home is a good idea. If you still have questions or concerns, give us a call at 855.353.4899. Our helpful and professional representatives can help you determine whether your home is suitable for solar energy production. We can even send one of our local installers to your home for an in-person consultation. If you want solar energy for your home, LGCY Power is just a phone call away!