How Do Home Solar Panels Work?
More homes are switching to solar power than ever before. Thanks to the major decrease in manufacturing and installation costs, home solar installation has increased by almost 75% each year during the past decade.
A report from the International Energy Agency shows that solar is now the world’s fastest-growing source of power with growth surpassing that of all other fuels because of its low cost and minimal environmental impact. As a homeowner, is installing a solar energy system worth your while?
Here’s what you need to know about solar panel systems, their benefits, and whether they can really save you money:
What are solar panels and how do they work?
Photovoltaic solar panels consist of many solar cells constructed with a positive and a negative layer of silicon, which work together to create an electric field.
Sunlight is composed of energy particles called photons. When photons hit a solar cell, they knock the electrons from their atoms. An electric circuit can be formed by attaching conductors to the positive and negative sides of the solar cell. The electrons will then flow through the circuit to generate electricity. When multiple solar cells are put together, they form a solar panel. A group of solar panels is called a solar array. The more panels you wire together, the more electricity you can generate.
How a Home Solar Panel System Works
Solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity, meaning the electrons flow in one direction around a circuit. However, the U.S. electrical power grid uses alternating current (AC) electricity, in which the electrons periodically reverse direction, because it costs less to transmit AC over long distances. As such, our household fixtures and appliances are designed to run on AC.
Therefore, home solar panel system needs to turn DC electricity into AC electricity by using an inverter. Here’s how a solar panel system works:
Sunlight hits a solar panel (usually installed on the roof), which convert the energy into DC electricity.
The solar array sends the DC electricity to a battery bank, from which the power is directed to an inverter that converts the DC electricity to AC electricity.
Most solar arrays use micro-inverters, each optimized for an individual solar panel to maximize output.
A solar array often produces more electricity than you can use during the day. Many homeowners participate in a net metering program that directs the excess electricity to the grid for use elsewhere.
With net metering, you’re billed for the “net” energy you draw off the grid each month --representing the difference between the electricity produced by your solar panel system and the amount of power you consume.
If you generate more electricity than you consume during a billing period, you’ll receive a credit for the electricity you draw from the grid when you use more power than the solar panels can produce during cloudy days or at night.
The Benefits of Using Solar for Your Home
Here are the advantages of using solar energy for your home:
Allows you to have control over your energy cost and how you access electricity. It enables you to achieve energy independence and make informed choices about your electricity consumption.
Offers access to monitoring and analytics so you can easily calculate how much electricity you can generate and project your energy cost for as far out as 20 years.
Provides a clean, sustainable, and renewable source of energy for your home. It eliminates the use of fossil fuels, which emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and leads to global climate change.
Lowers ongoing cost because solar panels have no moving parts and require very little maintenance. If properly installed, they can last for decades with minimal cost.
Eliminates monthly electric bills, which is controlled by utility companies and subject to fluctuations. Other than the initial installation cost, solar power delivers free electricity for the system’s entire lifespan.
Generates additional income if your home solar panel system produces more electricity than you consume and you sell the excess power to an electric utility company. For example, solar homes in New Jersey can earn $5,000 to $7,000 every year by selling their credits.
Increases your home value since home buyers are attracted to solar panel systems that can help them lower electricity bills. In fact, it’s found that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for an average of $17,000 more.
Allows you to take advantage of tax incentives that total up to 30% of the equipment and installation cost. This translates into a $7,500 saving on a $25,000 solar system, in addition to other state and local rebates.
Enables off-grid living in a location not serviced by an electric utility grid. Owners of remote homes and cabins don’t have to pay large fees for cabling installation to power their properties.
Do Solar Panels Save Money?
For many homeowners, the decision to install solar panels for their homes comes down to the cost-saving potential. So, will solar panels save you money?
Prices for solar panels have dropped significantly in recent years. In addition, tax credits and other incentives can cut the initial installation cost by as much as 50%. Plus, after your system goes online, you probably won’t have to pay anything for your electricity during the entire lifespan of your solar panel system.
In most states, the use of solar panels can save homeowners $100 or more per month -- translating into a saving of $30,000 over 20 years (less than the duration of a typical solar panel warranty.)
For homeowners who don’t want to worry about the upfront installation cost, they can consider a subscription-based, or “pay-as-you-go” financing option. For a flat monthly fee less than what you’d pay an electric utility company, the vendor will provide the equipment, installation, maintenance, monitoring, and repair so you don’t have to worry about any upfront or maintenance cost.
Solar Power: a Clean Energy Source That Promotes Energy Independence
More and more homeowners are recognizing the benefits of generating their own electricity using solar panel systems.
Besides long-term cost savings and a positive environmental impact, doing so also allows them to make informed decisions about their energy consumption and become independent from utility companies and rising rates.
Contact our experts today to see how much you can save.