Over the past couple of years, solar has become a more practical energy option for homeowners. But even with significant advances in technology, there’s still a lot that has to be considered.
How Does Solar Power Work?
There are two main types of solar energy technology that have the potential to use solar energy and convert it into electricity.
The first technology is known as photovoltaics, or PV. This is the one that most people are familiar with (and the one that will be introduced into your home when you decide to add solar to your property). With PV, panels are placed on a rooftop, field, or anywhere that gets direct and prolonged exposure to the sun.
When sunlight hits these panels, photons from the light are absorbed by the individual cells within the panel. This essentially creates an electrified field that allows electricity to freely flow into whatever is being powered.
The second technology is called concentrating solar power, or CSP. This kind of sunlight based force is ordinarily utilized in enormous modern buildings or solar plants. It’s not intended for private use. With CSP, mirrors mirror concentrated segments of light and direct it onto collectors that gather the energy and convert it into heat. This warmth would then be able to be saddled to deliver power.
Is Your Home Suitable for Solar Power?
It’s a common misconception that you need to live in a warm climate to effectively leverage solar power. The truth is that solar power is not dependent on temperature as much as it’s reliant on sunlight. (Sometimes these two things go hand in hand, while other times they’re independent variables.)
In order for your home to be suitable for solar, you must have a roof site that’s conducive to long, uninterrupted periods of direct sun exposure. Generally speaking, solar performs best when it’s on a south-facing roof with a slope somewhere between 15 and 40 degrees. It’s also a good idea to wait until you have a fairly new roof to install solar. (Installing panels on a 20-year old asphalt shingle roof is a waste.)
If your home site isn’t suitable for solar power, there may be other options that still allow you to enjoy the benefits of solar power. For example, community solar uses a single system that’s shared across multiple properties. You’ll have to do some research to see if this is available in your area.
What Solar Power Options Exist?
As solar power technology improves, there are more systems on the market than ever before. On the one hand, this is a positive for the consumer. On the other hand, it requires you to do more due diligence to find the proper setup.
Tesla is one of the newest players on the market. Their goal is to create solar panels that not only look great (meaning they naturally integrate with the roof) but also cost less. Tesla solar panels are sleek, durable, and have a low-profile frame. They even have a solar roof product that mimics the look of standard shingles. This is definitely an option worth considering if you want more traditional curb appeal.
How Do You Install Solar Power?
While it might technically be possible for someone with an advanced understanding of roof construction and solar technology to install their own system, it’s not advised. The best way to install solar is to hire a qualified professional. (And if you go with a company like bluenergysolar, they’ll require you to do so.)
What Do the Dollars and Cents Look Like?
While going solar for the sake of energy efficiency is noble, the big question most homeowners have is: Will I make my money back? Typically, the answer is yes. But when is a different matter.
The payback period for solar depends on a number of factors, including the type of system, tax credits, previous energy bills, energy savings, local incentives, the amount of sunlight you get, the efficiency of the system, etc. You can use this calculator to learn more.
Is Solar Right for You?
At the end of the day, the answer to this question depends on your specific situation. While solar is always going to be more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient, your circumstances are unique. It all depends on how you prioritize home design, curb appeal, cost savings, energy efficiency, and other elements.
Do the research, speak with the right people, and make an educated decision for you and your family.