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.
There’s a lot of buzz around solar panels lately and for good reason! These panels have a ton of benefits, from reducing your carbon dioxide footprint to saving you money on your energy bill.
But many people don’t know how solar panels are made. In fact, many people believe that they can create efficient solar panels in their own garage for little cost and no risk. This can be quite problematic and result in serious expenses if problems occur.
In this guide, we will walk you through the entire process of how are solar panels made. You’ll learn about the different types of solar panels, how they’re manufactured, and the benefits of going solar.
Keep reading to discover the wonders of the solar system and how it can be utilized to provide clean energy for all.
Solar Panels: A Brief History
Solar panels have been around for centuries, but they’ve only become widely used in the last few decades. Solar panel manufacturers started becoming more commonplace.
The first modern solar panel was created in 1954 by Bell Labs. This panel was made of silicon, which is still used in many solar panels today. Solar panels were originally used for powering spacecraft and satellites.
But as technology improved, solar panels became smaller and more efficient. In 1977, the first residential solar panel system was installed in California. And since then, the use of solar panels has grown exponentially.
How Are Solar Panels Made?
Solar panels are made up of several different components, including an inverter, a charge controller, and batteries.
The most important part of a solar panel is the photovoltaic cells. These cells are made of silicon and they convert sunlight into electricity. The pv cells are connected together to form a solar panel.
Solar panels are manufactured in a cleanroom environment. This is because the slightest bit of dust can contaminate the photovoltaic cells.
The cells are placed on a metal sheet and cut into small squares. They are then placed in an oven and heated to high temperatures. This process removes any impurities from the silicon.
After the solar panels are cooled, they undergo a series of tests to ensure that they meet quality standards. Once they pass these tests, the solar panels are ready to be installed!
Why Go Solar?
There are many reasons why you should consider going solar. Solar energy is a renewable resource, which means it will never run out.
It’s also much cleaner than other forms of energy, like coal and natural gas. Solar panels have a small carbon footprint and they don’t produce any air pollution.
Another great reason to go solar is that it can save you money! Solar panels can reduce your electricity bill by up to 50%.
And in some cases, you may even be eligible for government incentives. Going solar is a great way to save money and help the environment at the same time!
The List of Benefits of Solar Power is Long
We’ve only scratched the surface of all the benefits of solar energy. Solar power is becoming more and more popular and for good reason! These panels are environmentally friendly and cost-effective, and they have a bright future ahead.
Here are some of the other benefits that solar power provides:
- Solar energy is free once you’ve installed the initial panels
- Solar panels have a very long lifespan (25-30 years)
- Solar power is becoming more efficient as technology improves
- Solar panels can be used to generate electricity, heat water, and more
As you can see, there are many reasons to consider going solar. Solar panels are an investment that will pay off for years to come.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
Solar panels are made of several different materials, including glass, aluminum, and pure silicon. The most important part of a solar panel is the photovoltaic cells. These silicon cells are made of silicon and they convert sunlight into electricity.
Furthermore, solar panels also contain an inverter, a charge controller, and batteries. These components work together to store the energy generated by the solar panel so that it can be used at a later time.
In greater detail, these parts are made as follows:
The solar cells are cut from silicon wafers, which are thin layer slices of crystalline silicon. It is a single crystal element.
The aluminum frame is made from extruded aluminum, which is heated and passed through a die to create the desired shape.
The glass cover is made from tempered glass, which is heat-treated to make it stronger. It often come with an anti reflective coating.
What Are the Materials Used to Make Solar Panel Components?
The primary component is the silicon as mentioned prior. This material is sourced by mining quartzite and processing it with heat to create silicon tetrachloride.
This chloride is then reacted with hydrogen to create trichlorosilane. This substance is then reduced with hydrogen to finally produce the monocrystalline silicon used in solar cells.
Aluminum, glass, and other metals make up the rest of the panel. The aluminum is sourced from bauxite ore which is refined into alumina before being smelted to create aluminum alloys used in frames.
The tempered glass is made by heating common float glass until it reaches its softening point and then rapidly cooling it to strengthen it.
Some other materials are made/sourced by the following processes:
Indium tin oxide (ITO) is deposited on the glass through sputtering, which is a process where the material is ejected from a target and onto a substrate.
The back sheet is made of polyvinyl fluoride (PVF), which is produced by fluorinating vinyl chloride.
Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) encapsulant material is made by combining ethylene and vinyl acetate monomers.
What Would It Take/How Difficult Would It Be to Make Your Own Solar Panel?
The solar cell is the most important and difficult part to make. To create a silicon wafer, quartzite must be mined and then heated to extremely high temperatures. This process requires specialized equipment that most people do not have access to.
Even if you were able to obtain the necessary materials and equipment, it would be very difficult to create a solar panel that is as efficient as those that are commercially available.
Solar panels are typically only around 15% efficient, which means that only 15% of the sunlight that hits the panel is converted into electricity.
Commercially available solar panels are made in large factories with expensive equipment. The manufacturing process is also heavily automated, which further reduces the cost of production. For these reasons, it is not realistic for most people to make their own solar panels.
The Positive Impact of Solar Panel Installation: Saved Trees, Better Air, Renewable Energy
Solar panels have a positive impact on the environment in several ways. First, they save trees.
Solar panels require far less land than other forms of energy generation, such as coal or natural gas. In fact, if solar panels were used instead of Fossil fuels, we could save up to 50 million acres of land by 2030.
Second, solar panels help improve air quality. Solar installations do not produce emissions, which means that they can help reduce smog and other pollutants in the atmosphere.
Finally, solar energy is a renewable resource. Unlike fossil fuels, which will eventually run out, there is no limit to the amount of sunlight that we can harness for energy. This makes solar an excellent long-term solution.
Solar Panel Installation Advice & Guidelines
Now that you know how solar panels are made, you may be wondering if solar is right for your home or business. The first step is to determine whether your property receives enough sunlight to make solar a viable option.
If you live in an area with long winters and short summers, it is likely that your property does not receive enough sunlight to justify the cost of installation. However, if you live in a sunny climate, solar may be a good option for you.
Another factor to consider is the size of your roof. Solar panel installations require a large amount of space, so properties with small roofs may not be suitable candidates.
Finally, you will need to decide whether you want to install the panels yourself or hire a professional. Solar panel installation is a complex process, so it is generally best to hire a professional if you are not experienced in this area.
If you are considering solar panel installation, be sure to follow these guidelines to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
Common Mistakes Made With DIY Solar Panel Installation
Although solar panel installation is a complex process, it is possible to do it yourself if you are experienced in this area. However, there are some common mistakes that people make when they try to install solar panels on their own.
One of the most common mistakes is not properly preparing the surface of the roof.
Solar panels must be installed on a flat, level surface in order to function correctly. If the surface of your roof is not prepared properly, the panels will not work as efficiently as they could.
Another mistake that people make is not securing the panels correctly. Solar panels are very heavy and can easily be damaged by high winds. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important to secure the panels with brackets or straps.
Finally, people often underestimate the amount of work that is involved in solar panel installation. This process is very time-consuming and requires a great deal of patience. If you are not prepared for this, it is likely that you will make mistakes.
If you are considering solar panel installation, be sure to avoid these common mistakes. With proper preparation and care, you can successfully install solar panels on your own.
Should You Hire a Specialist to Source, Install & Maintain Your Solar Panels?
When it comes to solar panel installation, you have two main options: you can either do it yourself or hire a professional. If you are experienced in this area, then you may be able to successfully install the panels yourself. However, there are several disadvantages to this approach.
First of all, it is important to remember that solar panel installation is a complex process. If you make even a small mistake, it could result in the panels not working correctly. This could waste a lot of money and time.
Secondly, sourcing and installing solar panels is very labor-intensive. It is likely that you will need to take time off work in order to complete the project. This could end up costing you more money in lost wages than you would save by doing the work yourself.
Finally, you will need to maintain the solar panels on a regular basis. This includes cleaning them and checking that they are working correctly. If you do not have the time or expertise to do this, then it is best to hire a professional.
If you are considering solar panel installation, weigh up the pros and cons of doing it yourself before making a decision. Hiring a professional may cost more money upfront, but it could save you money in the long run.
Solar Energy for You
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to install solar modules. However, if you do your research and prepare properly, solar panel installation can be a great way to save money and energy.
If you are unsure about installing the panels yourself, hire a professional to do it for you.
They will have the experience and expertise to ensure that the job is done correctly. Ultimately, solar clean energy is a great choice for anyone looking for an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way to power their home.
Now that you know how are solar panels made, if you’re interested in learning more or finding the right solar panel for your needs, get in touch with us and we will assist you in this regard.
Are you thinking of making the switch to solar but are worried about losing power on cloudy days? Don’t worry because today, we’ll be separating fact from fiction when it comes to solar panels and less-than-ideal weather conditions so you can make a truly informed decision.
Let’s dive right in!
Do solar panels work on cloudy days: the short answer
There’s no need to worry because yes, most photovoltaic solar panels do work on cloudy days because they’re designed to generate power using both direct and indirect sunlight.
This, however, doesn’t mean they work as well as they do on sunny days. In fact, depending on the amount of cloud coverage, your solar panels could drop to as low as 10 to 25% capacity, which could mean insufficient power for your home, depending on how long the situation lasts.
But we’ll get to that later. Let’s first go over three other situations that may negatively affect your solar power system’s performance.
Situation 1: Rainy days
For the most part, the result would be the same. Since the sun doesn’t really “go away” on rainy days, your solar panels should still get some indirect sunlight to work with. This means while you do need to deal with lower levels of energy production, you don’t really have to worry about it ever dropping to zero.
And rainy days aren’t totally bad for solar energy systems either. Rainfall can actually wash away dirt and debris build up from solar panels, allowing them to work better on sunny days.
And with that said, let’s move on to the second situation.
Situation 2: Snowy days
At first glance, rainy and snowy days shouldn’t be all that different because there’s still some indirect sunlight available in both situations. However, the similarities stop there.
You see, unlike rain, which simply rolls off your solar panels, taking dirt and debris with it, snow actually ends up covering them, further reducing their ability to produce power for your home.
And even after it stops snowing, the snow already covering your solar panels would still be there until it melts. To make matters worse, it can also act as glue for dirt and debris, which can get left behind when it finally melts off. So, to make sure your solar panels are able to work at peak capacity during winter, always make sure it’s not covered in snow, dirt, and debris for extended periods of time.
But even on sunny days, it’s important to regularly clean your panels to prevent dirt and debris build up.
Situation 3: Nighttime
Unlike rainy days, which can actually be beneficial to your solar system, nighttime renders it completely useless—unless you implement the measures we’ll show you later.
As we’ve established earlier, solar panels are only able to produce power when there’s either direct or indirect sunlight available, which obviously isn’t the case at night.
There’s no need to worry, though. Again, there are measures you can take to ensure you have enough power to last through the night.
Option 1: Solar batteries
On sunny days, your solar power system tends to produce more energy than your household needs during peak sunlight hours. If you invest in solar batteries, you’ll be able to store this excess power for use either at night or during periods of decreased solar system performance.
This ultimately allows you to enjoy a steady supply of clean, affordable energy throughout the year despite changing seasons and weather conditions.
The only downside is that this benefit comes at a cost—literally—because you’ll have to purchase your batteries as an add-on to your solar energy system. In addition, you’ll also need to make sure you have enough extra space in your home to house them.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether the convenience and peace of mind are worth the extra investment. But keep in mind that without solar batteries, you’ll need to buy power from the utility company whenever your solar power system isn’t producing enough energy (or at all), which also costs money.
Of course, you can always just consult a solar specialist to ensure you get the best setup for your specific needs based on your budget.
Option 2: Net metering
Simply put, net metering is an agreement with your utility company where you get to sell them any excess power your solar system produces in exchange for incentives such as rebates and credits.
You can use these incentives to offset—either partially or completely—the cost of buying power from the utility company during times of suboptimal solar power system performance.
However, while net metering is definitely a great alternative to purchasing solar batteries, especially if you have a limited budget, limited space at home, or both, it’s not yet available in all states. Make sure you check your local regulations first before making your decision.
What if net metering is not available in your area and you can’t afford solar batteries?
Even if net metering is not available where you live and it’s not financially feasible for you to purchase solar batteries, you still don’t actually have to worry about power outages at night or during less-than-ideal weather conditions.
First, if you stay connected to the grid after you have your solar system installed, your home will simply automatically switch to using power from it whenever your system fails to supply the amount you need.
Sure, without net metering, you’ll have to pay full price to the utility company whenever this happens, but it’s still a great way to ensure you won’t ever have to worry about only having power during sunny days.
Besides, the total amount you’ll be spending on electricity per year would still be lower compared to if you didn’t have your solar energy system.
Second, you can always just finance your solar power system purchase—including the solar batteries—so you don’t have to shell out as much cash up front (if at all). Let’s go over this in more detail in the next section.
Financing your solar power system purchase
When it comes to financing your solar system purchase, you have three primary options: a solar loan, a solar lease, and a solar PPA.
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
- A solar loan, as you may have guessed by the name, allows you to purchase a solar power system without paying for it up front. Instead, you pay a much smaller fee per month until you pay the total cost off.
By the way, if you ever decide to get your solar loan through LGCY Power, you’ll get access to benefits such as:
- Monthly payments lower than your energy bill
- System maintenance support
- Product and workmanship warranty
- Federal solar tax credit and other government incentives
- The second way to make acquiring a solar power system for your home easier on the budget is by getting a solar lease. It works practically the same way as a solar loan. The only difference is that you don’t actually get to own the system if you choose this option.
The benefits you get to enjoy in case you decide to get one through LGCY Power are exactly the same as well.
- The third option you have for making switching to solar more financially feasible is by signing a solar PPA (power purchase agreement). In this setup, the solar company retains ownership of the solar system and simply charges you for the amount of power you use.
It’s just like how you’re paying your utility company for electricity right now. The only difference is it costs significantly less and it uses a much cleaner and more sustainable resource to power your home.
Can high-efficiency solar panels make up for unfavorable weather conditions?
The short answer is probably not—unless you specifically account for the occasional performance drops when choosing a solar energy system for your home.
The problem with this approach is that you’ll be spending so much more money on a system that will produce significantly more energy than you need on sunny days—which you have no way of storing or earning from if you didn’t have solar batteries or a net metering agreement with your utility company.
But if you did have solar batteries and a net metering agreement in place, then you wouldn’t really need to account for performance drops in the first place.
Besides, even if you had the most efficient panels around, they still wouldn’t work at night anyway.
The bottom line
Even on cloudy, rainy, or snowy days, as long as there’s direct or indirect sunlight available, your solar energy system should still be able to produce power for your home, albeit at a lower capacity.
The only time solar panels actually stop working is at night when there’s absolutely no sunlight to work with—but this does not mean you have to bear with not having power every time the sun goes down.
You can ensure a steady supply of power all day every day by investing in solar batteries, signing up for net metering, or doing both.
Your next steps
Book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants today so we can help you find (and install) the perfect solar power system for your home—and ensure you have access to clean, affordable power, year round.
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How efficient are solar panels: the short answer
Different solar panel types come with different efficiency ratings, but most modern options fall anywhere between 13 and just about 25%.
Of course, the higher the efficiency rating, the higher the price tag as well. So, the goal is to just get the most efficient solar panel type for your budget instead of just shooting for the most efficient one out of all available options.
But what exactly are the options available to you? Let’s take a look at the most common ones:
Monocrystalline solar panels
Boasting an efficiency rating of around 20%—thanks to being manufactured using a single piece of pure silicon—monocrystalline solar panels are one of the most efficient options you have today.
But that’s not all they’re known for. They’re also highly regarded for their superior durability, making them perfect for homes located in areas with harsh weather conditions.
Unfortunately, these benefits all come at a price—literally. You see, monocrystalline panels are more expensive than most other options primarily because they are made using a single piece of pure silicon. Given the way they are manufactured, up to 50% of each silicon crystal used ends up wasted.
Polycrystalline solar panels
Slightly less efficient than their monocrystalline panels at about 15-17%, polycrystalline solar panels are perfect for you if you’re looking for a less expensive yet equally durable option.
These panels are manufactured using the exact same material as monocrystalline ones. The only difference is that instead of being made with just one crystal, they’re made using several cut up pieces. This means significantly less crystal gets wasted during manufacturing, which is exactly why they don’t cost as much.
PERC solar panels
Short for passive emitter and rear cell, PERC solar panels are pretty much the same as monocrystalline and polycrystalline ones in terms of the primary material used. The biggest difference is that they have an extra passivation layer behind their main cell, which does three simple things:
- Reflect sunlight back to the main cell, increasing the total amount that gets absorbed by the panel
- Resist the natural propensity of electrons to regroup, allowing them to flow more freely in the system
- Allow each panel to absorb higher wavelengths of light, preventing the back sheet from heating up and the panel’s efficiency from going down
The result is about a 5% increase in the overall efficiency of each panel—but that’s not all PERC panels have going for them. Aside from their top-notch efficiency, they’re also smaller than most other solar panel types, making them great for homes with limited roof space.
And, to top it all off, they also don’t cost significantly more than monocrystalline panels to produce, so they also generally don’t cost significantly more to acquire. So, if you’re already looking at getting the former, then you might want to consider spending just a little more to upgrade to the latter.
Thin-film solar panels
If you’re willing to sacrifice efficiency to save money, then thin-film solar panels may be the option for you. With an efficiency rating of just 13-15%, they’re the least efficient one out of the four solar panel types we’ve talked about today.
Is there a way to increase the efficiency of my solar panels?
Unfortunately, no, there’s no way to increase the efficiency of your solar panels. What you can do, however, is keep them working at peak efficiency for a long, long time.
First, you need to make sure that your home is solar ready. As a general rule, it should have a south-facing roof that slopes anywhere between 15 and 40 degrees and has unobstructed access to direct sunlight. In addition, the roof surface itself must be big enough to accommodate enough solar panels to generate the amount of power your household requires.
Second, you need to make sure that your solar power system is properly installed and set up. This means that unless you’re a certified expert when it comes to solar installations, it’s better to let a professional take care of it for you.
Finally, you need to make sure that your solar panels are not covered in leaves, snow, and other forms of debris, so be sure to clean them from time to time. And, if you spot signs of damage, get in touch with your solar provider immediately so they can fix the problem before it gets worse.
Given that most modern solar panels are designed to work at peak capacity for at least 25 years, if you have yours properly installed and keep them well maintained, you should be able to enjoy a healthy return on your investment.
Is efficiency rating everything?
The short answer is no, efficiency rating is not necessarily the be-all and end-all when it comes to choosing what type of solar panel to invest in.
While it may seem like going for the option with the highest efficiency rating is a great idea, there are actually several other factors you need to consider to ensure you get the right solar panel type for your specific needs and situation, such as:
- Your budget
- The size and condition of your roof
- The location of your property
- Your total power requirement
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
The first consideration is how much you have to spend on a solar power system. Even if you wanted to get the most efficient option, if you need to burn through your life savings to do so, then it might not be the best decision. Keep in mind that it takes time for solar energy systems to pay for themselves and become an actual asset.
Second, the size and condition of your roof would also dictate the type of solar panel you can use. There’s no point in going for the most efficient option if your roof is not big or strong enough to house it.
Third, you also need to consider your home address. if your property is located in an area that’s constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions, then you’ll also need to strike a balance between efficiency and durability when it comes to choosing the type of solar panel to use.
Finally, you need to remember that there’s more than one way to ensure your solar system meets your home’s power requirement. The goal is to find the most cost-effective setup that would last a long, long time—which doesn’t always require the use of the most efficient solar panels available in the market.
Long story short, if you want to make sure you get the perfect solar power system for your home, it’s best to hire an expert to not only help you choose, but also take care of installation, set up, and maintenance for you.
Is there a way to make switching to solar more financially feasible?
Absolutely! In fact, there are several ways for you to either significantly reduce or completely eliminate the upfront costs associated with switching to solar. Let’s take a look at the three most popular ones: solar loan, solar lease, and solar PPA.
Solar loans are just like any other kind of loan. They allow you to purchase your solar system without having to pay up front. Instead, you pay a significantly smaller monthly fee until the total cost of the system is paid off.
If you get your solar loan through LGCY Power, you’ll get access to benefits such as:
- Monthly payments lower than your energy bill
- System maintenance
- Product and workmanship warranty
- Federal solar tax credit and other government incentives
A solar lease, on the other hand, works pretty much the same way, taking the upfront cost of switching to solar out of the equation. The only difference is that if you choose this option, you won’t actually get to own the system. In fact, even the benefits are exactly the same when you get one from LGCY Power.
The third and final option we’ll be taking a look at today is solar PPA (power purchase agreement).
Unlike the first two options where you either pay in installments for the system or pay to borrow one, a solar PPA completely eliminates the need for you to purchase or lease a system. Instead, the solar company retains ownership of the system and you just pay for the amount of power you use—which typically costs less than what your utility company is charging you now.
The advantage of going with this setup is that you get to enjoy clean, affordable energy without having to worry about things such as depreciation and maintenance.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your needs.
If you prefer to have your own solar power system but don’t have the cash to pay for it up front, then a solar loan is your best bet.
If you just want a system installed but don’t mind not actually owning it, then a solar lease would be better for you. This option not only eliminates the need to pay for the system up front just like a solar loan, it also takes depreciation out of the equation just like a solar PPA.
Finally, if you just want more affordable energy but don’t want (or are unable) to install a solar power system in your home, then a solar PPA is exactly what you need.
Again, if you want to make sure you get the right solar power system for your home, the first step is to talk to a solar power specialist who can take care of not only helping you choose the correct system, but also installing, setting up, and maintaining it.
Book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants today so we can answer all your questions and guide you every step of the way.
Getting a solar energy system for your home or business is a fantastic and reliable way to save money and protect the environment at the same time. It can also make your home more self-sufficient.
But it’s a big decision to make for your home. How much will it cost you? How long will your system last?
Do you know how to maintain solar panels?
These are all good questions that you should absolutely be asking yourself when shopping for a trustworthy solar energy system. But how easy it is to take care of them will astound you!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about maintaining your new solar energy system.
Where Is the Most Effective Place to Put Solar Panels?
You might find yourself wondering, “How do I get the most out of my solar panels?” The truth is that when you first buy your solar panels, they’ll be at their maximum efficiency. But placing them somewhere that doesn’t see a lot of sunlight might keep them from absorbing as much energy as they could.
This is why most people will have them put in sunny gardens or on top of roofs. For them to absorb as much sunlight as possible, you want them in a place that trees and debris won’t obstruct. This gives them full access to direct sunlight whenever it shines.
So putting them on top of your roof probably makes the most sense. The only issue is that this also exposes your solar panels to the elements. Rain, wind, and even snow will affect them every day.
The good news is that solar panels tend to be pretty sturdy. Many solar panels have even survived hurricanes.
Your main concerns might be if you live in an area of frequent tornados or large hail. If this sounds like you, then you might want to check that a warranty or homeowner’s insurance will protect your solar energy system.
Other issues you might run into are bird poop and pollen building up on your solar panels. While generally considered low maintenance, this kind of obstruction can prevent sunlight from hitting the solar cells as well as it should. Therefore, it can cause your system to run less efficiently.
What Causes Solar Panels to Degrade?
There is a name for when solar panels start to lose their efficiency: degradation. This can be the result of serious damage or obstruction on top of your solar panels. It will also simply happen naturally over time even if you take steps to maintain your solar panels.
You’ll notice that your warranty from the manufacturer will usually guarantee up to ninety percent efficiency for the first ten years. This is usually followed by another twenty years that guarantee eighty percent efficiency. This is out of a total of one hundred percent efficiency, which is what your solar panels will start with when they’re installed.
If you maintain them, the degradation process will be slow. Most solar panels made after the year 2000 degrade at a rate of less than one percent per year.
A solar panel is generally considered inefficient once it drops below eighty percent efficiency. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t still produce energy for your home. One of the oldest solar panels is sixty years old and is still producing energy.
However, it means that you will slowly start to notice that you’re not saving as much money on your energy bill every month. If this is alright with you, then you might not worry about it for a little while longer. However, like all things a solar panel won’t work forever.
Eventually, you will need to replace your solar panels to get the same energy efficiency you had before.
How to Maintain Solar Panels
The good news is that solar panels aren’t very difficult to maintain. You want to make sure that you’ve placed them where they won’t get pelted by falling leaves and twigs, but otherwise, you simply need to clean them every once in a while.
This process will serve to remove any dirt, pollen, or bird poop that has gotten on top of your solar panels. Any debris like this will prevent sunlight from reaching your solar cells. That means your solar panels won’t be generating as much energy for your home.
The good news is that if you live in an area that gets pretty consistent rain, then you shouldn’t need to do much. But if you go through a dry season or just don’t see any rain for a while, then you should take a garden hose and spray all the dirt off of your solar panels. This will remove any pollen and dirt from the solar panels.
If you have any stubborn pieces of bird poop stuck to your solar panels, a wet rag and some elbow grease should do the trick to remove this.
When it snows, you’ll want to remove it from your solar panels too. A garden hose with lukewarm water should melt ice and snow right off of the tops of them. Make sure it’s not hot water since interaction with snow would cause the solar panels to crack from the sudden change in heat.
Maintaining your solar panels in this way is the best way to keep them running efficiently for as long as possible.
How to Fix Solar Panels
The good news is that you can usually fix solar panels if they get damaged or cloudy. After a while, you may notice clouded plastic on your solar cells. This kind of clouding prevents sunlight from getting to the solar cells to generate power.
Rinsing and cleaning your solar panels isn’t going to help with this. You need something that’s going to clear the plastic for you.
Believe it or not, clear nail polish could be exactly what you need. Given the size of their cells, this trick is usually best used on a small solar light cell. All you need to do is spread some clear nail polish across the solar cells, careful not to get it on anything else.
Some people might be worried that this will reduce the amount of sunlight that can reach the solar cells, but that’s not true. In fact, it will make your solar panels more effective than if you let them stay cloudy.
The other thing you can do to fix your solar panels is getting experts to help you. If the problem isn’t that your panels are a little cloudy, then this is probably the best thing for you to do. Unless you are trained in fixing this equipment, you can easily break it if you try to do it yourself.
An expert will know exactly what to do to get your solar panel working right again, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
Can Solar Panels Be Recycled?
Nothing lasts forever, and solar panels are no exception. No matter how well you take care of them, eventually, they will need to be replaced. Most solar panels are considered ineffective after twenty years, but yours may keep working just fine for longer than that.
But if solar panels eventually need to be replaced, what happens to the old ones? Are they recyclable?
The short answer to this is yes. They are indeed recyclable. The panel covers are usually made of plastic, which can be remade into something else.
But the reality is a little more complicated. While it’s completely possible to recycle degraded solar panels, it’s hard to get them to a place that will do that in the United States. Although many solar panels will be accepted by standard recycling companies.
The other option is that landfills will sell these solar panels second-hand. If the solar panel is still even somewhat usable, then it’s possible that it might still be useful to someone.
It’s also possible to recycle the panel itself in a way that recovers up to ninety percent of its solar cells for reuse. And the United States government is currently working on a way to make recycling solar panels cheaper for everyone.
This is good news because it encourages people to get their own solar installation. It means that people don’t need to worry about what will happen to their old solar panels when they need replacing. And with technology getting better all the time, soon you might see astounding lifespans from your solar panels.
Get Your Solar Energy System Today
So you can see that your solar energy system will last for a long time. It lasts even longer if you know how to maintain solar panels. Following the advice in this guide will make sure your solar panels are still producing energy after twenty years.
And the best place to get a trustworthy solar energy system for your home or business is here at LCGY Power. Our experts are delighted to help get you set up with clean solar energy today. Schedule a consultation today to get started!
Back in the day, going solar required a massive upfront investment, which made it only accessible to wealthy households.
These days, however, pretty much everyone can enjoy the energy savings and many other benefits of making the switch, thanks to the significantly lower cost of acquisition and the availability of different payment plans.
But before we get to that, let’s first take a look at how much solar panels cost today—at least on paper:
How much do solar panels cost: the short answer
If you just want the national average, solar panels cost anywhere between $9,255 and $28,000.
But why the massive range? Well, that’s because there are several factors that dictate how much you need to shell out to install solar panels on your roof, including:
- Your power requirements
- Where you live
- The availability of federal government incentives such as solar tax credits
- The deals offered by solar companies in your area
- The type of solar panels you decide to use
Let’s take a closer look at the last item on the list:
Type 1: Monocrystalline solar panels
Let’s start with the most expensive option. Monocrystalline solar panels typically cost anywhere between $1 and $1.50 per watt. This means that a 10 kW system would cost you anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000.
But don’t let the price tag turn you off. There’s a reason—two to be exact—monocrystalline panels are quite expensive: they’re more efficient and durable than other alternatives.
Simply put, when you invest in a monocrystalline system, you’ll not only need fewer panels to generate the power you need, you’ll also be able to save money on electricity for a longer time.
But what if monocrystalline panels are really out of your budget? Well, this is where the second option comes in:
Type 2: Polycrystalline solar panels
While slightly less durable and efficient than their monocrystalline counterpart, polycrystalline solar panels are also more affordable, coming in at just $0.70 to $1 per watt. This means a 10kW setup would cost you anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000.
Type 3: PERC solar panels
Now, if you want something that’s cheaper per watt than polycrystalline panels but more efficient than monocrystalline ones, then PERC solar panels may be the best option for you.
Short for “passivated emitter rear cell”, PERC panels cost just $0.32 to $0.65 per watt and are designed to absorb more sunlight than both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.
But that’s not all. They’re also designed to handle extreme heat better. Behind the main cell of a PERC panel, you’ll find another layer that prevents excess sunlight from heating up its back sheet, which, in turn, keeps the system operating at peak capacity.
But the excess sunlight doesn’t go to waste either. It gets reflected back to the panel’s main cell, increasing the total amount of solar energy the system absorbs.
Type 4: Thin-film solar panels
The actual per-watt cost of thin-film solar panels ultimately depends on the type you get.
Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) panels cost $0.60 to $0.70 per watt. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) ones cost $0.50 to $0.60. Finally, Amorphous silicon (a-Si) panels cost anywhere between $0.43 and $0.50.
Despite their significantly lower price tag, however, they’re also the least efficient option out of the four—and they’re bigger too. This means you’ll not only need more panels to meet your energy requirements, you’ll also need a massive roof to house all of them.
This is why this particular type of solar panel is used more for industrial applications than residential ones.
But what about the other factors?
Aside from the per-watt cost of the type of solar panel you decide to go with, you also need to consider how many panels you’ll need to generate the power you require—and then subtract any applicable tax credits and rebates to the total cost.
In addition to the cost of acquiring the system, however, you’ll also need to take into account the cost of labor, which goes up or down depending on two primary factors:
- How difficult it is to install and set up the solar energy system you chose
- How much renovation work your home needs to accommodate your chosen system
This is why it’s important to check whether your home qualifies for a solar upgrade first before doing everything else.
As a general rule, you need to have a south-facing roof that’s not in the shade of nearby structures or trees and has a slope between 15 and 40 degrees to ensure your solar panels get the most sunlight throughout the day.
In addition, your roof also needs to be big and sturdy enough to accommodate the number of panels you need to meet your power requirements.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to do the checking yourself. In fact, it’s better to just have a solar specialist do it for you to ensure everything is in order before you proceed. This way, you can avoid costly issues and redos down the line.
Is there a way to bring down the upfront cost of solar panels?
Absolutely! You have three options: solar loans, solar lease, and solar PPA. Let’s take a closer look at each one:
A solar loan works pretty much like any other type of loan: it allows you to acquire your solar energy system via a payment plan. The only difference is that with solar companies such as LGCY Power, it also gives you access to the following benefits:
- Monthly payments lower than your energy bill
- System maintenance
- Product and workmanship warranty
- Federal solar tax credit and other government incentives
Just like a solar loan, a solar lease also eliminates the upfront cost of going solar. The only difference is that you don’t get to own the system. In fact, if you get one from LGCY Power, you’ll also get access to the exact same benefits as with a solar loan.
Finally, a solar PPA—short for power purchase agreement—also completely takes upfront costs out of the equation, but instead of requiring you to pay monthly to own or rent the system, you’ll only pay for the amount of power you generate.
The benefits you get, if you decide to work with LGCY Power, are also exactly the same.
But is solar worth the investment?
Of course, even if it’s now easier than ever on the budget to make the switch to solar, the question is: is it actually worth doing?
Well, let’s first take a quick look at its benefits so you can decide for yourself:
First, as we’ve seen earlier, going solar gives you access to different government incentives. Depending on the state you live in, this can include things such as tax credits and rebates.
Second, in some states, energy companies are also required to either pay you with cash or credit for any excess power your solar energy system generates. In this setup, you’re essentially making money by selling energy back to the grid.
Third, aside from the energy savings, fitting your home with a solar energy system also bumps up its value. Depending on where you live, this could translate to an extra several thousand dollars on top of your home’s current price tag.
And finally, on top of all the financial incentives, going solar also gives you and your family access to several non-monetary benefits, including:
- A steady supply of clean water
- Cleaner air
- A more stable economy
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
First, with more households using solar energy, the need for hydroelectric power plants—which use massive amounts of water—would naturally decrease. This, in turn, means more readily available clean water for everyone.
Second, going solar also minimizes our need to rely on fossil fuels for our energy needs. The result? Cleaner air for everyone, thanks to less harmful fumes and excess carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
Finally, as you probably already know, the price of oil in the global market is extremely volatile. There are just too many economic and political factors that can cause it to suddenly skyrocket.
With fewer households relying on fossil fuels, the need for our country to pay other countries to import them also decreases, resulting in improved economic security for everyone.
So, now that you’ve seen all the benefits of making the switch to solar, it seems like a pretty good investment, right?
Your next steps
If you wish to know more about fitting your home with a solar energy system, just book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions and guide you every step of the way in case you decide to proceed with the upgrade.
What are rooftop solar panels?
A rooftop solar panel is a grid that acts as a “collector” of the sun’s radiant energy, converting it to usable energy that is then stored in batteries and later used to power our homes. The solar cells within the grid are also called photovoltaic cells and are responsible for collecting radiant energy. The panels (modules) are grouped into “arrays” and placed in large outdoor spaces or rooftops. The number of PV cells needed for an array depends on the size of the module, i.e., a 12V module has 36 PV cells, while a 24V module has 72 PV cells.
Solar technology uses crystalline silicon as its semiconducting material. In residential rooftop solar panels, this material is monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon. The silicon’s purity determines the efficiency of a solar panel. Monocrystalline is purer than polycrystalline silicon, so it generates more power with less space. There are other types of modules available, most of them not suitable for home installation.
How do rooftop solar panels work?
The sun can be compared to a natural nuclear reactor. It is constantly releasing tiny particles of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) energy called photons. Rooftop solar panels collect the photons within the PV cells, converting the EMR into usable electricity. Solar energy is converted to direct current (DC), which is ultimately converted to alternating current (AC) that we use for power.
In this article, we discuss the lighter side of science on how rooftop solar panels work.
PV Cells—turning photons into electrons
As mentioned earlier, PV cells convert energy from the sun into electrical energy. Solar cells are constructed from semiconducting materials, most often silicon (Si), one of the most plentiful materials in the world. During this photovoltaic process, photons are turned into electrons.
One of the most significant benefits of this conversion process is that it does not generate any harmful emissions or waste, thus maintaining a clean, green environment while being extremely effective at generating energy. Photovoltaic cells (solar cells) are semiconductor devices that produce DC electricity when light falls on them.
Rooftop Solar panels—generating current
We discussed how PV cells convert photons into a direct current (DC). Each solar cell is made from crystalline silicon “sandwiched” between a negative and positive conductive layer. The positive layer has extra space, while the negative layer has excess electrons. Keep in mind that electrons move from negative to positive. Electrons travel across the confluence of the two layers, leaving a negative charge on one side and a positive charge on the other.
Because each cell produces about .5V, modules are constructed using several PV cells to generate enough electricity to power a house. It takes 12 PV cells to charge your cell phone—powering a home takes several modules.
If they could utilize an expanded range of convertible wavelengths, rooftop solar panels would generate more energy. Silicon, the semiconductor used in photovoltaic cells, does exceptionally well converting some of light’s wavelengths into electricity. The range of wavelengths a semiconductor can convert depends entirely upon the electrical properties of the material. If these materials absorb wavelengths packing more energy than those in the specific range of the material, the excess energy is lost as heat. Advancement in solar power technology is focused on increasing silicon solar cell efficiency by developing materials that can capture a broader range of wavelengths.
Inverters—DC to AC
Rooftop solar panels are incapable of powering a home—they need an inverter to convert the currents into usable electricity. The panels generate direct current (DC). Most houses in the US are wired for AC power. Therefore, an inverter is used to transform the DC into an alternating current (AC). A small, minuscule amount of energy may be lost in this conversion.
Most solar energy systems have a single inverter for the entire home. Another option is to connect microinverters to each panel. Either way, the result is the same.
Electricity is now available
AC electricity flows from the inverter to an external circuit and through your home. The solar-generated electricity then flows to all your home’s appliances, computers, TVs just as it would if you were receiving it from the power company. Rooftop solar panels may produce more power than your family needs. In that case, it can be stored in specialized batteries or sold back to the power company. Depending on how you get set up with the local power company, if your batteries are running low, you may be able to return to the power grid for the short term, for which you may receive a bill. Every power company has different programs for excess power buy-back and requirements for returning to the grid.
Excess energy—should you sell it or store it?
Suppose your rooftop solar panels generate excess energy. In that case, you have the option of either storing it in solar batteries or selling it through a net metering program back to the local utility company. By keeping the excess energy in solar batteries, your system remains off the grid. Batteries also provide you access to power 24/7, even on cloudy days when your rooftop solar panels don’t generate electricity quite as efficiently.
If you decide to use net metering, the utility company will pay you for the power you sell them. Depending on how the local utility company’s program is structured, they may apply for the compensation as bill credits, which can help offset any electricity you may use if you access the grid, helping you save money. Utility companies won’t pay cash for supplying power into the grid.
What is the lifespan of rooftop solar panels?
Rooftop solar panels can last up to 25 years or more—they are surprisingly durable and require little to no maintenance. There are no mechanical or electronic parts, so there is no wear and tear, and nothing gets worn down.
Solar panel manufacturers forecast a degradation rate of about 0.8% per year. After 20 years, solar energy production should only drop to an estimated 84% of the efficiency standard.
Residential panels typically come with performance warranties of 10-25 years. Depending on where your home is located, your system may outlive its warranty. Some rooftop solar panels continue to function for 40 years at a relatively high rate of efficiency. Panels can withstand 140 miles per hour wind speeds, according to Energy Sage. Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover solar panels against damages.
What is the lifespan of solar batteries?
Solar batteries and PV inverters don’t last as long as solar panels. Typically, solar PV inverters last between 10-15 years; the possibility of replacing them both within your system’s lifespan is very likely. A quality solar battery can be expected to last 8-15 years.
Inverter and battery inverter performance can be expected to decline over time. When comparing the different types of rooftop solar energy systems, be sure to read the warranty and performance guarantee.
Will solar power save me money?
Yes. Most Americans who have installed solar panels save on their electric bills. To better understand if solar panels will save you money, once you calculate or get a quote for the system, figure out your breakeven period:
- How much do you spend annually on electricity?
- How much will the system cost?
- Divide the total cost by the total of your electric bills.
The resulting number is the number of years it will take for the new system to pay for itself.
Do rooftop solar panels work at night?
Solar cells require sunlight to produce electricity. However, excess energy can be stored in batteries so that your system can still provide power at night. Additionally, you can still source power from the grid if your rooftop solar panels aren’t producing enough power to meet your electricity needs.
What kind of current do rooftop solar panels produce?
Rooftop solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity when photons from the sun knock loose electrons in the silicon PV cell. Each solar cell has a positive and negative layer, thus creating a DC electrical field. Since most homes are wired for AC, an inverter is needed to convert the DC into usable AC power.
Can you build your rooftop solar panels?
No, the technology and manufacturing process is too complicated. Most people can’t build their rooftop solar panels.
The solar energy market is evolving rapidly, changing to stay abreast of the growing demands for renewable energy. Installing a rooftop solar energy system in your home is a sustainable way to decrease your energy costs and carbon footprint.
Solar energy is not the right choice for everyone. Read about solar panel costs; compare the pros and cons of rooftop solar installation to see if it’s right for you.
If you are a homeowner in Arizona interested in installing rooftop solar panels, give us a call today for a free quote!
As solar power becomes more affordable and accessible throughout the U.S., more and more residents are making the switch. Not only can this investment save you money in the long run, but it’s also going to make a positive impact on the environment for years to come.
But how can you go about obtaining a building permit for solar panel installation? Is the process the same everywhere, or does it vary?
We have all the information to help you through the process. Read on to learn everything you need to know.
Do You Need a Building Permit for Solar Panel Installation?
So the question is, do you need a building permit for solar? In short, the answer is yes. What gets complicated is learning the local, state, and federal laws that you have to abide by in order to obtain that permit.
This isn’t much different than any other additions to your home, though, so the process shouldn’t be too daunting.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Building Permit?
Failure to obtain any and all the required permits for your project can result in fines. You may even be called to take your solar panels down, putting you right back where you were before you started.
Take your time from the beginning to ensure everything is being done properly. From there, it’s easy to follow the process so nothing is held up along the way.
The biggest thing you’re going to need to remember is that permit requirements change throughout the years. If this isn’t your first time having solar panels installed, you’re going to have to research laws and bring yourself up-to-date before getting started.
You’re also likely to need an inspection from a local electrician to ensure that you’re meeting the proper codes, and you might have to clear it with your electricity company as well.
It’s also important to ensure you have approval from your homeowner’s insurance company. They might have certain regulations for homeowners to follow. If you fail to meet your insurance company’s requirements, it can result in your policy being voided.
How You Can Ensure Your Solar Panels Are Properly Licensed
To ensure that your solar panels are properly licensed and insured, it’s best to call in a local professional. They’re going to know the local laws, and they’re also going to be able to walk you through the entire process.
In some cases, you’re going to need a license to even purchase the materials you need to install solar panels. When you’re hiring or consulting with a professional, make sure you ask to see their professional certifications.
These are going to look different for each state and even city, but the premise remains the same: permits are the number one thing you need before you start construction or installation of your solar panels.
How Do You Know You’re Working With the Right Company?
No matter what area you live in, working with an experienced installer is the best way to ensure not only your own safety but also the safety of everyone in your home. Here are a few signs that you’ve picked the right installer:
- Includes you every step of the way
The right installer is going to be transparent about their process and work to include you every step of the way. Not only will they communicate with you in a timely manner, but they’ll work to keep you updated on everything as it’s happening.
They’ll know what they’re doing, and you’ll know you can trust them with your home.
Can This Be a DIY Project?
If you’re not properly qualified, installing solar panels yourself can be a dangerous task to take on. Not only can you hurt yourself, but it can lead to serious damage to your home.
Not only could you fall and hurt yourself, but panels also present the same risk. When either happens, it has the potential to damage not only you and the equipment but also anybody on the ground and your roof or home.
Shingles can be knocked off, rain gutters can get displaced, or you could break one of the panels, which are all costly repairs in themselves.
It’s best to trust a professional with the job. It might seem like you’re spending a lot of money on something you could “just do yourself,” but you’re actually going to be saving it.
When you hire a trusted professional, they’re going to be licensed and insured, and so is your product. If something happens to either one of them on your property, then it’s all going to be taken care of.
You’re also giving yourself peace of mind. When you hire a professional, you know everything is going to be done correctly the first time around. You won’t have to worry about repairs or mistakes being made.
In the event they are made, your warranty is going to ensure they’re fixed. If any damage is done to your home, it’s going to cover that as well.
Go With the Best in the Industry
Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about obtaining a building permit for solar panel installation, it’s time to get started. When you embark on the journey of adding solar panels to your home, it’s important to have a team of professionals behind you the entire way.
That’s where LGCY Power comes in. Not only do our services come with a 25-year warranty, but our team of professionals is knowledgeable enough to help you from beginning to end.
Schedule a consultation today to get started.
Of the reasons that motivated surveyed Americans to install solar panels, cost-savings and benefitting the environment were the top two. According to Deloitte, over half of solar panel users explained they use solar because it’s clean, helps the environment, and lowers their monthly bills.
You’re likely considering solar panels for the same reasons but aren’t sure where to start. Solar energy can be a complicated concept for those who don’t have prior experience, and searching for the right equipment brings up foreign terms.
The best solar panels for a rooftop will depend on the size of the roof, the budget, and the typical climate in the area. To help you narrow down your search and choose the right equipment, we’ve created this guide.
How to Choose the Right Solar Panels
Solar panels can certainly lower your monthly bills if installed correctly. It’s possible to get all your energy from your solar panels. In fact, you could have excess energy from your solar panels that you could sell to offset more costs.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just slapping a few panels onto your roof. Not all solar panels are right for every situation, and your location has a lot to do with it. Everyone is getting at least some sunlight, but certain climates make it harder for solar panels to receive enough solar energy to do their job.
A solar panel system also consists of more than just panels. You’ll need to consider the type of inverter you need, for example, so that you can effectively turn that solar energy into energy that works for your home.
To get started, though, let’s talk about which types of solar panels are best for certain situations. Consider the size of your roof, how much you’re willing to spend, and what type of weather you generally experience.
What is Your Roof Like?
The size of your roof will determine how many panels you can fit and how big they can be. How you tackle this will also have a lot to do with your budget because you can decide to buy several cheaper panels or stick to a few more expensive ones.
While having a bigger roof gives you more surface area to fit panels, not all of your roof might be usable. If you have chimneys or weird corners, for example, this will cut into the space that you can use for panels. In addition, the direction of your roof plays a huge part in solar panel efficiency.
Consider what direction your house faces, as this will affect how much direct sunlight your panels will receive. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but it also stays on a southern path. For those who live in the northern hemisphere, having a south-facing roof covered in solar panels will be the most effective setup.
In comparison, having a roof that faces even southeast or southwest can significantly lessen this effectiveness. Further, having a roof that only faces west or east can reduce the amount of sun the panels receive throughout the day. Instead, a west or east-facing roof will receive more intense sunlight during a certain period of the day.
This surge of energy at one part of the day might be useful for you. For those whose energy bills are based on TOU (time of use price structure) rather than a fixed rate, a west-facing solar panel system can produce a burst of solar energy during the peak hours of energy use, offsetting the surge pricing from the electric company.
Keep all this in mind as you shop for solar panels. If you have a roof with several faces, you’ll want to consider which panels you’re buying and set them up in the best direction for optimum efficiency.
What is Your Budget?
Solar panels are certainly an investment. Like a car, you aren’t just thinking about a one-time cost with no other factors. The type of car you get will affect how much money you spend down the line, such as on gas and repairs.
Similarly, solar panels can be more expensive upfront but save you more money on bills. Therefore, you should consider not only how much money you can afford to spend on solar panels, but also how much money you’re looking to save in return. Think about what your usual electricity bill looks like and how the company prices out energy use.
The higher your average electricity bill is, the likelihood that you’ll save money with solar panels increases. This is because the initial costs of installation can sometimes be a huge barrier to saving money in the long run. Thankfully, installations costs have been going down over time as solar panels are becoming more common and production of these materials is increasing.
Many states offer incentives for installing solar panels as a way to break down this barrier. Research incentives like tax deductions and credits to see if installing solar panels will help your yearly expenses. Then, use this estimated savings to build a budget.
Finally, if you make enough solar energy, you can look into selling it back to the grid. Some home producers of solar energy make a few thousand dollars selling their energy every year. If this profit will make a huge difference in your decision, make sure to consult with your energy provider first.
Your budget will significantly affect which types of solar panels you can buy. Certain lower-efficiency solar panels can be more affordable, but might not work well enough to meet your needs. High-efficiency solar panels can cover your needs and more but might have too high of a price to make installing them worth it.
You can attempt to manipulate these costs by changing the number of panels you buy and setting them up on your roof for maximum energy production. Overall, find the best solar panels for the price by comparing your current bills to your installation costs and cost savings over time.
What is the Climate in Your Area?
Finally, your climate has a huge impact on your solar energy production. The amount of sun you get and in which direction plays a major role, but that’s not the only factor. Some areas are more prone to rain and snow, and some houses are always in shade from the surrounding landscape.
When it comes to choosing the right solar panels, you’ll need to find panels that have the right levels of efficiency for your climate and roof situation. Areas that don’t get a lot of sun, or roofs that don’t point in the right direction, will require higher efficiency solar panels. In addition, if your panels are covered in snow constantly, they won’t be able to function properly.
In addition to efficiency, you’ll want solar panels that can withstand your climate events. If you live in a high-risk area for hurricanes, for example, you’ll want to install solar panels that can last through high winds. Places that frequently get heavy snowfall will also need solar panels that don’t collapse under the weight.
If you live in a place that gets a lot of rain, the water won’t necessarily be a factor. Solar panel technology is meant for the outdoors, so it is waterproof. What you need to think about is cloud coverage.
Not all places get a lot of cloud coverage with rain, so think about the number of hours for sun exposure instead. The best solar panels for rain will be the ones that can get enough sun exposure during your average day.
The Best Solar Panels for a Rooftop
Now that you know the basics of what factors will affect your solar panels, you’re probably wondering how exactly these factors will affect you. Which solar panels do we recommend for specific circumstances?
We’ve been in the business for a long time, so our expert advice is based on which solar panels have made our clients happiest with their investment. Since our company services cover 27 different states, we’ve seen all types of roof and climate situations. Our opinions are based on the value of the solar panels according to efficiency balanced with a budget.
Best Solar Panels for Cold Weather
Cold weather doesn’t always mean you can’t benefit from solar energy. The top states for solar panel use happen to be in colder climates, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Because these states have higher energy bills and better incentives, many residents have made the switch to solar.
These states also experience snow and cold winters, but they still receive enough sunlight to benefit from solar panels. Residents of colder areas mainly have to consider the durability of their panels under the weight of snow.
When it comes to the best solar panels for snow, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has a reliability standard for outdoor stressors on panels. Make sure to check this rating on solar panels in extreme weather environments. This rating will help you find the best solar panels for longevity in extreme environments.
Also, find panels that can be mounted in the best way for your situation. If you experience a lot of snow, look to install vertically-mounted panels so that snow slides off.
Further, solar panels function with rows of cells. If one cell is covered, the whole row suffers. Installing horizontal panels that are mounted vertically will stop snow from covering and affecting every row of cells as it accumulates on the roof.
Otherwise, studies have shown that chillier climates are more conducive for solar energy harvesting! In addition, as long as the panels aren’t covered in snow, the snow laying around reflects sunlight and helps to harvest further.
Best Solar Panels for Warm Weather
Despite what many people think, high temperatures decrease the efficiency of solar panels. In places like Florida, where you’d think everyone could benefit from solar energy, the temperatures are so high that solar panels suffer. While full sun exposure will certainly benefit your solar energy harvesting, you’ll have to be careful picking solar panels that can withstand extreme heat.
To combat this lower efficiency, the best solar panels for Florida will be high-efficiency panels like ones made of monocrystalline. Solar panels are made with silicone, and monocrystalline panels use single crystals of silicon. These crystals must be manufactured and are more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels.
Monocrystalline panels work better in higher temperatures because of the way silicon electrons are affected by heat. With a single crystal, the atoms do a much better job of flowing the energy even when sped up. Polycrystalline panels have imperfect crystal structures that don’t direct the energy as well, letting it escape.
Your second-best option is polycrystalline panels. These panels use several crystals of silicon instead of one in each cell. These cells don’t do as well of a job of directing the energy flow, but are better than lesser-quality solar panels.
Solar panels function at their maximum capacity when they are kept in 77-degree weather. Unfortunately, direct sunlight heats a solar panel, so you’ll need to take airflow into account as well. Make sure your solar panels are propped up at least 15 cm away from the roof so that air can cool the panels from below.
Best Solar Panels for Shaded Roof
Unfortunately, some people have roofs that are partially or fully shaded. Whether this is because you have a lot of trees around the property or structures that cast shadows on your house, this can be bad news for solar panels. Further, these shadows can be cast differently depending on the time of the year.
First and foremost, try to find a setup location for your solar panels that will avoid the shade the most. If there’s absolutely no way to do this, you’ll have to find the best solar panels for shade.
Remember that covering even one cell of a solar panel can affect way more than just that one cell. Rows of cells depend on each other, so covering one cell will affect the entire row. You’ll need to look at solar panel technology that can bypass this fault.
Try buying solar panels that have half-cut cells or bypass diodes. Bypass diodes allow energy to flow around cells that are shaded. Half-cut cells increase the number of pathways available for energy to flow through.
You can also try microinverters, which bring the functionality of inverters to each cell rather than outside the panel. That way, energy can be converted at each cell rather than waiting for the entire panel to send energy to the inverter.
Switch to Solar
Solar energy is no joke. Homeowners not only cut down on their energy bills but start making money on their solar panel production over time. There’s no reason to hesitate any longer about installing your solar panels, regardless of where you live.
LGCY Power is a leading solar power installation company trusted across the country to install the best solar panels for a rooftop. With LGCY Power, you can even install your panels with no money out of pocket because we offer financing plans. Start seeing the savings instantly!
Schedule a consultation today!
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The short answer is it depends. You see, there are a couple of factors that dictate just how much power you can squeeze out of a solar panel.
To find out, just ask yourself five simple questions:
Question #1: What is the solar panel’s wattage?
Most commercially available solar panels are designed to produce anywhere between 250 and 400 watts of power. The higher the wattage, the more power it can generate.
Question #2: What type of solar cell does the panel use?
When it comes to silicon solar panels, for example, there are two primary solar cell types to choose from: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The former typically generates more power than the latter.
Regardless of the type you go with, though, silicon solar panels are still the most popular option right now because they strike the perfect balance between cost, efficiency, and lifespan.
Question #3: How many cells does the panel have
Solar panels typically come with either 60 or 72 cells, and the more cells a panel has, the more power it can generate.
This, however, doesn’t mean you should automatically go with 72-cell panels. Your choice would ultimately depend on how much roof space you have because 72-cell panels are bigger than 60-cell ones.
Question #4: How much sunlight do you get in your area?
More sunlight means more power generated. This is why you can see significant differences in the total power output of the exact same solar panels from one area to the next.
A 370W panel, for example, would generate anywhere between 2.2 and 2.7 kWh per day in sunny areas such as California and Arizona but just around 0.93 to 1.5 in places such as Alaska and New Jersey.
But even if you live in a place that gets a lot of sunlight, if your panels are covered by things like the shade of a tree or dust and debris, then you would still see a lower overall power output.
Question #5: How old is the solar panel?
Most modern solar panels are designed to work at 100% capacity for about 25 to 30 years—unless they are poorly maintained or damaged.
But even past their “expiry” date, they should still function at about 85% capacity, which should still provide you with sizable energy cost savings.
What does all this mean?
Choosing the right solar panels for your home is not as straightforward as you might think. There are a lot of factors to consider to ensure your solar power system is able to generate enough power for your needs.
So, how about we make the process a little simpler? Just book a no-obligation free consultation with one of our solar panel consultants and we’ll help you find (and install) the perfect solar power system for your home.