Installing a solar power system on your home or business is an excellent way to lower your energy costs while benefiting the environment. Many different types of solar panel kits and systems are available ranging from rooftop models to stand alone systems and and many can be easily installed by an industrious home owner. You won’t have to obtain an engineering degree or anything like that to get the job done and you don’t have to hire a high-priced installer. In fact, it’s fairly straight-forward. Many times solar panels come in kits that include very specific instructions on how to install them properly so it is just a matter of following directions.
The amount it will cost you to install solar panels on your own home is dependent upon a number of factors including the number of panels, condition of the roof as well as any tools and supplies you may need to purchase. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association; “Common residential system prices ranged from less than $3.00/W to almost $8.00/W”. This includes labor and the price of the system itself. It’s clear that if you eliminate the cost of labor, for a professional installation, the price will be lower, but, again, it varies depending on your individual circumstances.
Solar power can be a mystery in terms of just exactly how it all works. Most people understand that it all begins with the powerful sun that transmits energy through the atmosphere and onto the solar panel. But, what happens within the solar panel that produces electricity?
Solar panels are made up of smaller units that are referred to as “photovoltaic cells”, which means that they convert sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are made up of several of these cells that are all linked together. These photovoltaic cells are a kind of sandwich, if you will, that is made up of two pieces of semi-conducting material like silicon. One piece of the silicon has a positive charge, the other a negative charge. This creates an electric field between the two.
When sunlight, or more specifically photons from the sun, are filtered through the solar panel, they end up in the middle where the electric charge is. This causes the solar panel to release electrons. Conductive metal plates on the sides of the cell collect the electrons and send them traveling down wires. Sometimes the electricity is directly fed into the electrical outlets in our homes, just like any other source of electricity. Other times, the power is directed to batteries to be used at another time. Excess power, what we can’t use or store right away, makes its way back into the power grid and can be sold to the power company.
The number of solar panels that are needed depends completely upon your specific electricity needs. If you run a large number of electric appliances that are older and not energy efficient, you will need more than if you have high efficiency appliances. That said, the average home uses right around typical solar panel produces around 200 watts of power and the average household uses about 48 kWh of electricity per day.
What that means is that the average home will require a 5 kWh array, or roughly 25 solar panels to provide adequate power. That said, some households may only wish to provide a percentage of the total power from solar energy while others will wish to go for 100%. The level of production required will determine the number of panels that are necessary. To find out just exactly what you’ll need, use one of the online solar power cost calculators to figure this out. You’ll need some basic information such as past energy usage which you can find out by looking at your utility bills. Just fill in the requested numbers and you’ll get a good idea of how many panels you’ll need and an approximate costs associated with them as well as when you can expect to see a return on your investment.
Keep in mind that you do have to take the time to be sure that you understand the local and state regulations regarding their installation. Since every state, city and municipality has their own specific rules, it is impossible to list them all here. However, you can find out more information by doing an online search for the regulations in your own area. Once you’ve gotten that information, you’ll be ready to get started.
If you’re serious about saving money on your energy costs, not just in the short-term, but for the long-haul, solar power is the way to go. There are many excellent solar power companies that provide complete kits for the do-it-yourself inclined person that are quite reasonable and the prices are going down all the time. By taking the time to install the solar panels yourself, you’ll save money on the installation, and the system overall. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to brag about how you did the work yourself and how low your utility bills are now that you’ve gotten solar power connected to your home. As an added bonus, you could produce more electricity than you use and you might even get a check from the power company for selling the excess power back to them.