Home » Solar Energy Facts – Working, Benefits, Cost, Installation

Solar Energy Facts – Working, Benefits, Cost, Installation

Solar energy facts tend to be very interesting as this source of energy is a burning and hot topic of discussion in many countries. It is very important to know more about this source of energy before you attempt to harness its power.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you never had to pay another electric bill?  This is a real possibility through the use of solar energy. Solar energy supports all life on earth and can be harnessed to power your home or business.  Fossil fuels that support our power grids are more expensive than ever; and as they are diminished over the years to come they will only go up in price.  This alone is a reason to considered powering your home with solar energy.

Solar Energy Facts – Things to Know

Solar Energy Facts—How It Works

The amount of solar energy that is emitted from the sun is enormous.  All of the energy stored in the earth from all the fossil fuels combined is matched by only 20 days of sunlight.  Solar panel technology captures the light from the sun and converts it into power for your home or building.  When sunlight enters the cell in a solar panel, the energy from the sun charges electrons on the solar panels causing them to move through a thin layer of wiring in the cell.  As the electrons move through the wiring, they provide power to a building or house.

Solar Energy Benefits Homeowners, Industry and the Environment

Sunlight is a renewable source of energy and unlike fossil fuels or natural gas, is totally free.   It is an inexhaustible source of fuel, unlike coal, oil or natural gas. When you use solar energy you are contributing to the environment rather than polluting it.  You’ll be using a renewable “green” source of energy.

The solar energy industry is poised for tremendous growth as home and business owners, including large commercial, industrial, agricultural and governmental entities invest in solar energy technology.  When designing homes and buildings, more and more architects and engineers are incorporating solar energy systems into their plans.

Is Solar Energy Right For You?

Perhaps if you had a better understanding about solar energy you’d surely consider installing a solar energy system in your home or building.   Solar energy can be used for light, heat and cooling.  Some people use solar power to run their hot water heaters as well.

Maybe you’re worried about the cost of installing a solar system. The initial investment can be a hefty one.  But if you knew more about the facts you’d know that the benefits often outweigh the expense when you consider everything involved. If you’re thinking about installing a solar energy system in your home or any other building to save on electricity you need to consider the cost-benefit ratio of doing this installation– the total financial investment you’ll be making vs. the actual savings you’ll get over the years to come. If you do this, you’ll be more comfortable with the initial investment you’ll be making, and you’ll be surprised to find out how economical a solar energy system actually is.

Here are a few more solar energy facts you should know if you’re considering a solar energy system for your home or business:

  • You can get back 30 percent of your total cost from federal, state and local tax credits.
  • A solar energy system will increase the value of your home.
  • Your solar panels would more than pay for themselves in five to eight years with the cost savings you’d get from the free electricity they provide.
  • Installing a solar panel system for your home will substantially reduce or totally eliminate your electric bills.
  • Electricity is produced by your solar panels can be sold back to your utility company.
  • Homeowners save on average over $1,000 a year on electricity after installing a solar energy system in their home.
  • Homes that heat their water with solar energy save on average $250 to $500 a year.
  • The cost of solar panels is usually the largest expense of the entire job.
  • There are no electrical expenses incurred from the use of solar energy.
  • Solar panels today are more efficient than ever, and the prices for have dropped over the years.
  • Solar energy systems are quiet.  They don’t make the churning and whooshing sounds you get with traditional heating systems.
  • Solar energy systems don’t require maintenance like traditional heating and cooling systems to.
  • Solar energy systems are usually under warranty for 25 years. But you should know that in order for your warranty to be valid, your solar energy system must be installed by a certified, trained professional.

If you still have doubts as to whether you would benefit from installing a solar energy system in your home or business, here are a few more solar energy facts to know. Always consider solar energy for your home or other building if:

  • Own your home or the building,
  • Your building faces south, east or west,
  • There’s a minimum amount of shade over the building,
  • There are no obstacles overtop of your roof,
  • The roof on your house or building s well-maintained (ideally less than five years old),
  • Your roof is large enough to support the solar panels and your average utility bill is over $100 a month.

The Types of Solar Panels

The cost of a solar energy system for your home will vary depending upon the type of panel you choose to install. Because 60 percent of your total solar energy system costs will come from the solar panels themselves you know the difference between the types of solar panels and what they’ll provide you. There are four different types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polysilicon, thin-film silicon and BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic):

Monocrystalline Solar Panels: These are some of the most efficient panels today; they are also the thinnest panels available.  Because of this you’ll find that they are also the most costly.

BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic) Panels: These can also be quite costly due to the various components that are needed to support them.

Thin Film Silicon Panels: These are the least expensive, but they are also the least efficient of the four.

Polysilicon Crystalline Panels: These solar panels are in the middle of the four different types of panels in terms of their cost and efficiency.  So this is a popular choice.

The Costs

When looking to purchase solar panels for your home or business, you should rate them on a cost-per-watt basis.  A solar energy specialist can help you with this.  It is important for you to know this so you determine what the best price is for the size of job you’re doing.  You should be able to get a per-watt price between 54 to 65 cents.  Remember that his is only the cost of the solar panels and not the installation costs.

Installation costs for a solar energy system will vary quite a bit from area to area.  A complete system can cost from $1,750 to $2,500 per kilowatt (or $1.75 to $2.50 per watt). For a large home or building, you may be talking anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000.

This may sound cost prohibitive.  But remember that the federal government and localities generally provide cost rebates for solar energy installations.  For example, a system that would typically cost your about $24,000 will actually cost you $16000 with your federal and local tax credits.  And this is without the savings you’ll get from reduced or no electric bills!  Regardless, always do your homework so you’re not surprised about the costs you may incur.

Questions to ask a salesperson when considering a solar energy system:

  • Ask about the power rating of the solar panels vs. their expense.  Some contractors may try to sell you expensive, high-efficiency solar panels that you don’t need.  One of the more important solar energy facts is that panels with a power rating of 5K, no matter the efficiency, will still produce a 5K output.  When purchasing panels remember that the efficiency rating is not as important as the power rating.
  • How much money does the salesperson think that you will save every month from the energy system?
  • Ask how much of your electrical needs will be met with each of the different systems you might be considering.  A system that handles just 50 percent of your needs should cost much less than one that provides 90 percent.

Installation Costs

The total installed cost for solar panels depends on the size of your home or building.  A typically sized home can range on average from $18,000 to $40,000.  A very large building can cost upwards of $100,000.  This may sound like a lot, but if you’re saving on your utility costs year after year, you’ll recoup these costs.  Here’s the breakdown for a typically sized house:

  • About 1/3 of your expense will be for the solar panels themselves.
  • Installation hardware typically costs from $800 to $2,000.
  • Wiring boxes, wires, conduit and other necessary electrical parts will cost about $1,000 to $2,000.
  • You’ll need a power inverter to convert power from DC to AC.  This is necessary to connect your solar energy system up to the power grid.   The cost for this runs $1,000 to $3,000.
  • Local building permits and inspection fees vary, but can run from $2,500 to $6,000.

Always Hire a Professional to Install Your Solar Energy System

A certified solar energy contractor will do a thorough assessment of your home or business so you know what you’re buying is what you need. Solar panel installation is a very difficult process, and is not a DIY project.  A contractor will custom design your solar energy system based on your home or building’s architecture and electrical needs. Your contractor will calculate the following to make sure your system meets your needs:

  • The amount of kilowatt-hours you will need each month.
  • The number of sun-hours that your house or building gets each month.
  • The solar-panel wattage needed for your house or business.

A qualified contractor will do a structural analysis of your property to assure it can support the solar energy system you want.  He will submit plans to your local, county or city to obtain the required building permits or licenses.

Always hire a reputable, experienced company that is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), the recognized solar-energy installation program in the United States. Make sure your contractor has been in business for a long time. This way you’ll know that you can count on them to be there for you in the future if you have any problems with your system.  And, make sure only one contractor handles your solar panel installation from start to finish, and not a handful of subcontractors.  They should provide you a written 25-year warranty for all parts of the system.


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