In recent decades, modern living has exponentially increased our energy consumption.
Our energy demands in the industrial, commercial and residential domains have increased. Industries need power to operate heavy machinery, commercial establishments need power for heating, lighting and office equipment, residential needs include the heating of air and water, lighting and the operation of household appliances. However, research in green energy alternatives has come a long way in mitigating the effects of our skyrocketing energy demands. One such technology is solar energy.
What is solar energy?
When heat or light from the sun are captured and converted to thermal or electrical energy, solar power is generated. Solar energy is the largest source of renewable energy and is becoming more easily accessible. Solar panels are an increasingly familiar sight on suburban rooftops and also in rural farms today. According to the experts at Unbound Solar, “Installing solar panels by yourself can be a cost-effective and rewarding experience; you can save a significant amount of money by cutting contractors out of the equation and take pride in your own handiwork. “
- Solar energy may be harnessed at or near the point of use or generated at a utility-scale solar power plant and distributed after conversion.
- Surplus energy may be stored in batteries and used when the sun is not shining, a feature that reduces some of the dependency of solar power on geographic location.
- Instead of going completely solar, you may augment your energy source with solar panels while still staying connected to your traditional power grid. This can help cut utility costs.
How can you decide if solar power is the right choice for you?
A solar power setup comes with its pros and cons but sufficient information is available so that you can make an informed decision about whether to adopt it for your energy needs.
A few common questions a homeowner might have about solar power are addressed below:
Is it cost-effective?
Solar power will result in zero or minimal electricity bills in the long term. But its initial setup expense is considerable.
- The size of the solar panel array depends on the size of your energy needs. The cost of the array will be proportionate to its size and ease or difficulty of installation.
- A storage battery may be required as an addition to the system to store energy for times with little or no sunshine. Battery costs tend to be high.
- The advantages include low maintenance costs and low electricity bills in the long run.
- Government incentives such as a 26 % annual federal tax credit for adopting solar power can save you even more money on taxes. State and local incentives may also be available, depending on your location.
- A solar power setup will increase your property value, making it yet another financial incentive.
Do location and orientation matter?
If your home is located in a predominantly sunny region, solar is a good choice for you. Regions that are overcast most of the time may not yield a good enough return with solar power, but shade optimizers and batteries with enhanced storage capacity help counteract this drawback.
- Depending on the size of your solar array, you will need enough space for them on your roof or yard, unencumbered by shade.
- The slope of your roof and its direction also matter. Panels facing south will yield 15% more power on average, than an east- or west-facing roof. If the panels are oriented towards the southeast or southwest, they will yield around 8% less power than south-facing panels.
- A flat setup of panels will guarantee more sun exposure and more output than a steep setup.
- Solar installation companies will conduct a scan of your roof and estimate the potential output and projected savings so that you can make a quick and accurate decision.
Can homeowners install the panels themselves?
To reduce the initial setup cost, you may consider making it a DIY project. This DIY solar guide is a good source of information.
- A complete DIY project would require you to undertake all aspects like layout, design, electrical wiring and components, safety aspects, permits, panel assembly and other factors.
- A contractor can help you with the more challenging aspects like permits and the installation itself, while you handle planning, estimation and other decisions.
- A turnkey installation is the costliest option and the process from planning to installation will be completely handled by the installation company.
Solar is a sustainable source of energy that not only benefits the environment but also your savings in the long run. By weighing the size and intricacy of a solar array installation for your home, you can either choose to make it a DIY project or hand it over to expert installers.