Solar Power: Top 5 Best Things to Know Before Considering Residential Solar

June 30, 2022
What you need to know about solar energy

Solar power is simply the ability to generate electricity or thermal energy from the sun. Photovoltaic solar panels, or PV systems, convert the sun's rays into usable electricity using various methods, including photovoltaic solar panels. In addition to generating electricity using photovoltaics, solar energy is commonly used to heat indoors or fluids. Taking full advantage of the sun's energy with solar technology can be accomplished by adding solar hot water systems and designing buildings that use passive solar heating.

Are you interested in the benefits of solar energy? 

Residential, commercial, and utility solar panels are installed on three scales. The size of a residential property determines whether the solar panels should be installed on the rooftop of houses or open land (ground-mounted). Residential-scale solar panels typically range from 5 kilowatts (kW) to 20 kilowatts (kW). Solar energy projects for commercial purposes are generally larger than residential ones. Solar arrays installed at large scales provide businesses and nonprofits with on-site solar power, regardless of their size and cost. The high-power solar systems used by utilities are typically large installations of several megawatts (MW).

Many solar shoppers cannot install solar on their property due to cost or other factors, but community solar offers a more direct connection to utility-scale solar energy projects. Rather than installing solar panels on their properties, residential consumers can subscribe to a solar community project. Thus, community solar farms are typically developed in a centralized location rather than on individual customers' properties.

What are the workings of solar panels?

Typically, a solar panel (also called a solar module) consists of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass case, and wiring to transfer electricity. This nonmetal (atomic #14 on the periodic table) absorbs sunlight and converts it to electricity. By interacting with a silicon cell, light sets electrons in motion, which initiates a flow of electricity. This is known as the "photovoltaic effect," which describes how solar panels work.

This photovoltaic effect lies at the heart of the science of generating power with solar panels. Edmond Becquerel discovered it in 1839, and it may be regarded as a feature of some materials (called semiconductors) that enables them to generate an electrical current when exposed to sunshine.

The photovoltaic (or PV system) method involves the following significant steps:

  1. Solar radiation is absorbed by the silicon photovoltaic solar cell.
  2. When the sun's rays collide with the silicon cell, electrons begin to migrate, resulting in an electric current flow.
  3. Wires collect and transmit direct current (DC) power to a solar inverter, which converts it to alternating current (AC).

A short history of solar energy

Bell Labs created the very first silicon photovoltaic cell in 1954. Although solar energy has previously been absorbed and transformed into usable energy via indirect techniques, it was not until 1954 that solar power became a viable source of energy to power equipment for lengthy periods. The first photovoltaic cells transformed solar radiation into electricity with a 4 percent efficiency. By comparison, many commonly accessible solar panels nowadays can convert the sun’s energy to solar power with a 20 percent efficiency, a number that is continually increasing.

Although solar energy adoption was slow initially, various federal and state incentives and laws helped reduce the overall cost of solar energy sufficiently to make it more broadly embraced. At this time, solar energy has adequate capacity to power 11 million of the nation's 126 million households.

The price of solar

The price of solar has decreased significantly with an improvement in solar efficiency. Over the previous decade, the cost of installing solar panels has dropped by more than 60%, and many market analysts believe that prices will continue to decline in the following years:

Cost of solar panels and batteries in the us and texas

Furthermore, based on where you reside, many rebates and incentives for solar power may help to decrease the price of solar energy further. The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is one of the essential incentives accessible to anybody considering adopting solar energy on a national scale since it permits you to claim 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar panel system off your federal income taxes. This benefit won't last much longer; in 2023, the government ITC drops to 22% and then disappears entirely for residential solar systems in 2024.

In addition to the federal ITC, several states and utilities provide extra benefits (such as net metering), lowering the cost of solar electricity even more.

Sunlight is free and accessible. 

Solar energy is a clean, affordable, renewable energy source used globally. Any spot on the earth's surface where sunlight reaches the surface may produce solar energy. Around because solar energy is derived from the sun, it is an infinite power supply. Technologies based on renewable energy provide power from limitless resources. For instance, contrast the power production from renewable energy sources vs. fossil energy. Because oil, gas, and coal took tens of thousands of years to generate, every time one of these precious resources is burnt to produce energy, it moves closer to exhaustion.

When electricity is made from a renewable resource, such as wind, sun, or hydropower, that resource is not depleted. There'll always be constant sunshine beaming on the surface of the Earth, and even after it has been converted into power, there remains a limitless supply of sunlight left over. Because of this, solar energy is by definition a renewable resource. Because of this, solar energy is by definition a renewable resource.

While energy sources like oil and gas still make up a significant portion of the country's present electricity mix, renewable energy sources like solar are gradually taking over more and more of that role. as long as the cost of solar and other renewable technology remains low.


Do you want to go solar?

There is no one-size-fits-all method for installing solar panels and moving to a more environmentally friendly electricity source. Several aspects should be considered to evaluate if your house or company is a viable candidate for solar. When selecting whether to go solar, you should at least be thinking, "What kind of house do I live in, and do I own it? What do I spend on electricity? Is my roof appropriate for solar power? How old is it, how large is it, what angle is it at".

The first query is perhaps the most telling: the more power you use and the more you pay for it, the more money you will save by switching to solar. Additionally, installing solar will be considerably more challenging if you rent the property or live in a multi-family home than if you own one. Finally, a roof that receives a lot of direct sunshine is in good shape and faces south would be the best roof for solar. Whether any of these qualities don't apply to you but you're still keen on going solar, see our post on whether solar energy is a good fit.

Electric cars, solar plus battery storage, and much more

The statewide and quick international expansion of solar energy has also sparked parallel growth in several neighboring sectors. Mainly, electric cars and power storage are two industries ready to take off alongside solar by increasing the strengths of solar.

The importance of storing generated but unused power throughout the day for use at a later point in time has grown because solar panels can only generate power while the sun is shining. For example, solar batteries may store power and draw on it when the sun isn't producing as much. Additionally, solar-plus-storage systems provide several other advantages, including energy security, grid resilience, and cheaper electricity, and they are compatible with all sizes of solar panel installations.

Another item positioned to benefit from the uptake of solar energy is electric automobiles. Electric cars are destined to play a significant role in the automotive industry for many years to come since they have lower operating expenses than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, reduced fuel costs, and environmental impact. Solar energy is a beautiful match for the increased demand for power brought on by the development of electric cars. Direct solar energy from distributed solar arrays provides affordable and dependable electricity for electric vehicles. Solar power has been one of the cheapest, most reliable, and cleanest methods to fuel our electric future in an age of greater household electrification.

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