Solar power has been around since 1954. A research facility called Bell Labs managed to use a solar panel to power a toy Ferris wheel and a radio, and that marked the birth of this renewable source of energy. Nowadays, we’ve got businesses and houses depending on this technology for their everyday needs. Not just that, but there are more people switching to solar power every day. If you have been mulling over the idea, here’s all that you need to consider before making a decision.
Types of Panels
Solar power is harvested through photovoltaic (solar) cells. In each panel, you’ll find 32 to 96 cells, all depending on how much power a panel is supposed to generate. As for the panel types, there are three: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. The highest in cost is the monocrystalline, but it compensates through its high efficiency. On the other hand, the thin-film is the lowest in terms of efficiency. Conveniently, polycrystalline panels fall right in the middle with an efficiency rate of 15 to 17%. Although, you should keep in mind that for a house, you’ll want something that looks good while providing you with enough power to be self-sustained, so your best bet will be one of the first two types.
The Main Components
A solar power system is made of four parts, each with a specific role in the energy collection and conversion process. First are the solar panels which transform solar energy into a direct electric current. The second component is an inverter which converts the direct current into an alternating current to match your household’s needs. Thirdly, you can install a battery that stores any excess energy for later use. Finally, to monitor your energy consumption, a standard solar power system comes with a consumption monitor. One of the valuable benefits of a consumption monitor is that you can use it to make money off of the excess solar energy you collect, but we’ll expand on that further down the line.
There’s a common misconception that solar panels are more expensive than standard electricity, which often prevents people from seriously considering solar energy as an alternative. However, the fact of the matter is that solar panels are much more cost-effective, especially in sunny areas, like San Diego. First off, according to fireflyenergyllc.com/san-diego-county/, you can get your panels installed with no upfront costs and a zero-down lease that allows you to pay off your purchase comfortably over time. In other words, you don’t need to worry about the initial costs. Second, instead of paying a significant monthly electricity bill, with an efficient solar power system, you’ll be paying close to nothing on electricity. Even better, you can sell excess electricity and get paid through feed-in tariffs. So, for one big purchase, you’ll be getting a lot more benefits than with many medium payments.
It’s important to ask yourself whether or not your house or apartment can take a set of solar panels. What you need for a successful, hassle-free installation process is a structurally-sound roof and ample space that allows unblocked access to sunlight. You can always schedule a consultation with the solar company of your choice and they’ll send an engineer to make sure your roof is eligible for installing the panels, and inform you of your state’s law regarding the number of solar panels you can install. Now, if you don’t have a roof, there’s no need to abandon the whole shift to solar power. You can always join a community solar program where the output of a large solar system is distributed among several properties.
We’ve mentioned before that you can monetize the excess electricity you collect by sending it back to the grid. The same way you now draw electricity from the grid and pay for it, you can also feed some into the grid and get paid. Depending on your country and state, the rates, contract types, and terms will differ. Though, it’s important that you get acquainted with your region’s policy on feed-in tariffs because some places have a cap on how much electricity you can feed in and still get paid for. While excess electricity can be stored and won’t go to waste, it’s better not to unknowingly invest in an excessively large system only to find that you won’t be paid for the excess electricity you generate.
Aside from the financial benefits of solar power, making the switch from a nonrenewable to a renewable source of electricity comes with lots of environmental benefits, too. Solar energy is a green source of energy while fossil fuels generate staggering amounts of harmful emissions. Ultimately, despite the financial and environmental benefits, the final decision as to whether or not solar panels are the best option for you depends on your current situation, wants, and needs.