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The sun is a wonderful source of renewable energy. And it’s more beneficial for the environment than the non-renewable energy generated by fossil fuels. But how can you, as a homeowner, benefit from the sun as a source of energy? Solar panels are the answer.
Understanding How the Sun Provides Energy
Solar panels use energy from the sun to create electricity. You may have seen these square-shaped panels elevated in fields or on rooftops.
When sunlight hits the panels, cells in the panels absorb photons from the sunlight. Photons are energy-producing particles included in sunlight. The panels take these photons and produce an electric field. The electric field then travels across the panels to produce electricity.
These panels are used for several reasons, including:
- Creating electricity
- Providing electricity to remote areas
- Providing hot water heating
- Charging batteries outdoors
Is Your Home Suitable for Solar
The panels work in all types of environments. It’s highly unlikely you live someplace that’s either too hot or too cold to use renewable energy provided by the sun. However, your rooftop is possibly unsuitable for panel placement.
Some homes have rooftops that are too old or damaged to withstand solar panel installation. There’s also the possibility that trees prevent the sun from directly shining on your roof. The size, slope, and shape of your roof can affect panel placement as well.
Panels produce the best results when placed on south-facing rooftops. It also helps to have a slope between 15 to 40 degrees. However, that doesn’t mean panels won’t work in other situations.
Your best option is to contact a solar panel company. A solar professional can determine if your roof is suitable for solar energy. There are options available if your home isn’t suitable or you don’t own your home.
With community solar, several people benefit from a shared group of panels. The panes are installed off-site or on someone else’s property. In this situation, the cost of purchasing and installing the panels is shared among participants in the shared system.
The shared solar system is known as a community solar garden or a solar farm. Individuals, businesses, and other investors can participate. Each participant subscribes or invests based on how much electricity they’d like to consume. Charges are adjusted based on how much electricity a participant uses.
The goal of community solar is to provide renewable energy to those who can’t install it on their property. The farms or gardens are run by non-profits, companies, cooperatives, or local governments.
Installing Your Own Solar Power
Perhaps you’ve confirmed that your home is suitable for the panels. But should you install the panels yourself or contact a professional panel installer?
Currently, it’s best to contact a professional installer for the job. A qualified installer will hold a certification in panel installation. This person is not only highly-qualified but familiar with installing high-quality panels.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) awards the industry-standard certification. However, it may soon become possible to install your panels without a professional.
A plug-and-play array of panels is currently being developed. This will allow homeowners to attach the panels to a roof using a special roof mounting adhesive. However, this project is still under development. Until it becomes available, your best option is to leave the installation to the professionals.
How Much Power Do Solar Panels Generate?
You may have concerns about how much power you’ll get from a renewable source. It’s easy with traditional electricity because if your bill is paid, the electricity is available. But you can get an idea about how much energy you’ll receive from going solar.
PVWatts Calculator is a tool that estimates the production and cost of solar energy for specific addresses. The tool, created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, allows homeowners to get an estimate about how much energy the panels will output. It’s even possible to compare the cost of solar directly to your current utility bills.
PVWatts is a good tool. But for a more accurate understanding of how much energy the system will generate, you’ll need to speak with a solar professional.
Cost-Effective Solar Power
In addition to being better for the environment, renewable energy can also save you money. How much money you can save depends on several things, including:
- How much energy consumes per-year
- The size and number of panels in your system
- The cost of your system – if you’re buying or leasing
- How much sunlight hits your roof and in which direction the roof faces
- Electricity rates and how much compensation you’ll receive for unused energy
Solar is generally cost-competitive with electricity sold by your local power company. And the cost of switching to solar is less than it was just a few short years ago. Panel prices are lower than in the past and so is installation.
Renewable Energy and Home Value
You may have concerns about the value of your home. And you might wonder if the panels increase or decrease your home’s value. Generally, a renewable energy system increases the value of a home.
Most people view a renewable source of energy as a home improvement. It’s also clear that a home with solar panels will likely sell faster than one without panels.
Some homeowners want to use renewable energy, but they have misgivings about its safety. Will the panels damage the home? Can the panels fall on someone? These scenarios are unlikely.
The panels meet specific international testing and inspection standards. And as long as the panels are correctly installed, they should remain safe. If an installer is qualified, they will make sure the panels are in line with local electrical, building, and fire codes.
Another safety measure is that panels undergo a thorough inspection after installation. A certified electrician will perform an inspection to make sure the panels are up-to-code and installed correctly.
Renewable energy is cleaner and safer than non-renewable energy. Energy from the sun also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides.
Energy from the sun produces less carbon and pollutants in general. That means cleaner air, cleaner water, and less pollution. It’s a small step, but if enough people take that step, it will have a positive effect on the environment. Any step that moves the world away from non-renewable energy is a step in the right direction.
Now is the perfect time to use renewable energy in your home. Doing so may also make you eligible for the United States federal residential solar energy tax credit. This allows American homeowners to claim a percentage of the cost of a renewable energy system on federal taxes.