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How Does Solar Energy Work For You?

Solar energy and installation of solar panels for the home are the next big investment in today’s innovative and ever-changing society. Within the past few years, solar energy has become increasingly popular as a reliable source of electrical generation. With advances in photovoltaic cell technology, solar energy is becoming more affordable through lower production costs, lower maintenance costs and lower energy bills to homeowners. As a result, energy-efficient homes are becoming easier to market and sell to potential new buyers.

Purchasing a home with solar panels installed, or installing them as a new homeowner, is becoming more and more common. Residential solar power in Iowa saves a typical homeowner an average of $748 annually. Solar panels for homes are an effective, self-sustaining and innovative option for a home’s electricity source.

One of the most important aspects of deciding if solar energy is right for your home is understanding how solar energy works.

How do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels are made up of smaller sized panels known as solar cells. These are also known as photovoltaic cells, which essentially means electrically conducted light; or, electricity produced by light. These solar cells are typically made out of silicon, which is the second most abundant element on earth and serves as a viable semiconductor. Silicon makes a great semiconductor for photovoltaic cells because they are made up of four strong bonds that hold the electrons in place. Traditionally, there are two layers of silicon, which make up the p/n, or a positive/negative semiconductor junction.

Solar panels for homes begin working when the sunlight hits the silicon modules and is absorbed; the p/n semiconductor junctions convert the sun’s energy into electricity by creating an electric field that forces electrons along a power source. The direct current (DC) is wired into an inverter which transfers into an alternating current (AC), the standard current that is used to power most homes.

What Happens to Excess Energy Produced By Your Solar System?

Once the current has provided your home with the electricity it needs, the excess electricity is fed back into the power grid. Anytime that there’s excess electricity needed, the electricity is pulled from the power grid. This entire process allows for the optimal output of solar energy to provide electricity for your home.

What’s the Best Way to Utilize Solar Panels for Your Home?

In most solar systems, solar farms and homes, solar panels are placed on the roof for optimal performance. An ideal solar site will have no shade on the panels, especially from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., which are prime sunlight hours. Before you begin having solar panels installed, the Department of Energy has a few ways to plan and prepare.

Determining the Energy Requirements of Your Home

Before committing to installing panels and deciding their location, assess your home’s energy efficiency. You can evaluate your home’s energy efficiency yourself or contact an auditor to perform a home energy audit. Home energy audits usually go into great depth to assess your home’s energy usage and its effectiveness. You will generally have each of your home’s rooms assessed, your annual and monthly energy bills evaluated, and a blower door test performed. This test assesses the airtightness of rooms or is used to assess the airflow between rooms in your home. After an energy audit, the auditor will recommend the amount of solar energy needed for your home.

Getting a Solar Analysis of Your Home

After analyzing your home’s energy efficiency, you’ll need to conduct a potential solar energy analysis. Similar to the energy audit, the solar energy analysis will help you examine how effective solar energy can be for your home. It will allow you to look at things such as optimal placement of panels and mapping strategies to provide energy from solar panels for homes.

Once you’ve decided that solar energy is right for your home’s energy needs, you can start obtaining bids and site assessments from solar installers. You can use personal references and online tools to help you make the most educated decisions. Online tools can help you find solar installers and compare price points. Solar Rating Online collects data from multiple weather resources to determine your home’s sustainability for solar technologies. Another online tool, Solargis, helps you analyze weather data, solar solutions and provides you with consultancy information. We suggest exploring some of these online tools and before committing to a solar installer contract, acquiring at least three bids for the photovoltaic system installation.

How Do You Get a Quote For a Solar Energy System?

When comparing pricing, be sure the system metrics and characteristics are the same given to each installer and ask lots of questions. This will ensure you receive the most accurate quotes and information. Bids you receive should include all production and implementation costs of the solar systems for the home. You should also be aware of the maximum generating capacity and the production of the system on a monthly and annual basis.

For more information on connecting with a local installer and receiving a bid, check out our residential portal.

How Expensive are Solar Panels and Solar Energy Systems?

Now that you’ve learned about the energy efficiency of solar panels for homes, I’m sure you are curious how much this process and installation is going to cost you. According to Solar Power Authority, the average home consumes electricity at the rate of 1 kW per hour. The average monthly electrical bill would be $73 per 730 hours of kW energy. This monthly average can change if you have electrically appliances running constantly or units that are consistently powered. You’ll have to adjust this average accordingly, and your solar installer can help you and provide you with a more accurate bid based on your home’s needs and metrics.

To relate these averages to solar energy, for every kW you generate, you need approximately 100 square feet of solar panels. You would need more panels if you live in a place that gets minimal daily sunlight, and vice versa if you live in a place that has access to more sunlight on a daily basis. The cost of a solar panel today is around $3 per watt of energy. For example: a system that costs around $18,000 would have a payback period of around 20 years.

Get Tax Incentives and Earn Money From Your Solar System

Once your solar panel system is installed, you should know the various revenue opportunities that come with solar installation. According to the Department of Energy, through 2019, small solar systems can benefit from a 30% federal tax credit. The federal tax credit decreses each year thereafter. If you choose a solar lease agreement, you will not be eligible for the tax credit, because you won’t have ownership of the solar panel system. Your solar installer should be able to guide you in making decisions for the appropriate costs and payments.

Getting Your Solar Energy System Working for You

Although this may seem like a vast amount of information, it is all beneficial to you as you are planning on installing a solar system. Learning how solar energy works for you and how it can benefit your home and your home’s energy efficiency, will only save you time, money and energy in the long run. Solar energy has become a popular choice for homes today. Utilizing tools such as online databases and talking with a solar installer will help you make the more difficult decisions. Additionally, comparing costs of your energy bills to the revenue and efficiency of solar panels will allow you to continue making cost-effective choices.

Ready to Put Solar to Work For Your Home?

Knowing how solar energy works will provide you with solid background knowledge to be able to effectively decide that solar energy is right for your home. If you’re ready to get started or need more information, head on over to our contact page or take control of the process and find a local installer that fits your needs.

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