Buying a solar energy system will likely increase your home’s value. A recent study found that solar panels are viewed as upgrades, just like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, and home buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. Additionally, there is evidence homes with solar panels sell faster than those without. In 2008, California homes with energy efficient features and PV were found to sell faster than homes that consume more energy. Keep in mind, these studies focused on homeowner-owned solar arrays.
As always contact Solar Chief to discuss the best option for the most efficient, reliable, and cost effective system. Solar Chief offers Free Site Evaluations and Free Quotes.
Why add to
- Increased Electrical Usage: becoming more relaxed about energy use, example- purchasing an electric vehicle, expanding your home
- Smaller Installments: expand system slowly, offsets electrical bill, financial position
When upgrading your solar panel system, selecting identical solar panels is the best bet to ensure your solar array is efficient. The type of inverter is based on your system size, so your original inverter might not have the capacity to handle additional electricity. There are many different options when adding to your solar arrays. If your home’s roof is out of space for your expansion, you might consider a ground-mounted system. Consult Solar Chief to understand your best options for solar expansion.
Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Going Solar
Solar panel systems are systems that turn sunlight into electricity. You can use the electricity generated by your solar panel system to power your home, your business, or even your car. Here are the top ten things you should know before going solar.
Solar panel systems are a great way for you to save your money, no matter what your budget is.
If you can afford to pay your electricity bill every month, you can afford to install a solar panel system. With a $0-down solar loan, solar lease or PPA, you can finance your system and see immediate savings.
Installing a solar panel system is a great investment.
Investing in a solar panel system can deliver better returns than stocks and bonds – and now is the right time to make that investment. While solar photovoltaic technology is improving incrementally each year, financial incentives and rebates will decrease as solar becomes more popular.
Solar photovoltaic systems have been around for a long time.
Solar photovoltaic systems are a well-proven technology first invented in 1954 by scientists at Bell Labs. Today, solar panels are installed on over one million homes in the U.S.
Solar panel systems are highly durable.
Solar photovoltaic panels are made of tempered glass and can withstand hail, snow, rain, and high winds. They can even extend the life of your roof by protecting it from daily wear and tear.
Solar power systems can produce electricity for 25 or more years.
Most solar panel manufacturers offer a 25-year power production warranty guaranteeing that their solar panels will continue to generate electricity at a certain capacity for the warranty’s duration.
Solar power systems are practically maintenance-free.
Solar panel systems are incredibly durable. Except in extreme circumstances, they don’t need to be washed or cleaned.
Solar panels can be installed almost anywhere in the United States.
Most locations in the United States get enough sunlight to produce enough electricity from solar panels. The most important factors to consider when you evaluate your solar panel options are the rates you pay for electricity and the rebates and incentives available to you.
Solar energy systems are tied to the electric grid and do not require batteries to store power.
When you install a solar energy system on your property, you remain connected to the electricity grid. At times when your system produces more electricity than you use, you receive credit for the electricity you send to the grid; if you need more electricity than your solar energy system is producing, you can draw it from the grid.
Solar power systems can eliminate most of your electricity bill.
With the right planning, your solar panels can generate enough electricity to meet your needs over a 12-month period. If you have enough roof space to install the right size solar panel system, the power that your panels will produce will effectively eliminate most of your electricity bill.
Solar photovoltaic panels can be installed on the roof of your home or commercial property, on the ground or on a solar canopy.
Solar panels can be installed practically anywhere that receives direct sunshine for most of the day and is not shaded by trees or buildings. Panels that face south will produce the most electricity, but your panels can also face east or west.
5 Things to Check on Your Solar System Each Month to Keep it Running Smoothly
With their few moving parts and limited maintenance needs, solar panels can typically last years without experiencing any issues. However, in order to keep them working at peak performance and to keep from having any major maintenance issues, it is important to give them preventative care throughout the year. Here are the top five things you should be doing each month in order to keep your solar panels working the best they can.
Watch for dirt and debris buildup
Being sure to keep your solar panels free from any obstructions helps ensure that you are maximizing the efficiency of your system. You should be sure to remove snow, dust, and leaves from your panels on a monthly basis to keep your system running smoothly. However, if your system is installed in a way that could put you at risk of a fall, do not attempt to clean them yourself. Many solar systems are mounted low enough that cleaning is possible from the ground using a land-handled broom. For panels mounted higher, your installer will likely have a solar panel cleanings service to recommend. Having a professional come to clean your panels can help ensure that your panels receive a thorough cleaning and that they will not be damaged in the process.
Inspect your rack and roof penetrations
Solar panels are mounted to your roof with a rack. This rack carries the weight of the panels and holds them to the roof using several sturdy bolt penetrations. A monthly visual inspection is a great way to catch any potential drainage or structural issues before they become serious. While it can be tough to identify drainage issues from the outside, they should be visible from the inside in the form of leaks. You should do a monthly visual inspection of your attic space to see if you notice any leaks under the areas where your panels are mounted.
Missing bolts can also be an indicator of impending rack failure. Panels can loosen in their mounts over time due to snow and wind, so if you do find a potential issue contact your solar panel installer to inspect and repair the rack.
Examine potential corrosion
Solar systems are made with durable and long lasting components, allowing them to produce energy for twenty-five years or more. Your rack and panels will likely be made from corrosion-resistant materials, but after a long period of time corrosion could develop and compromise the strength of your system components. Doing a visual check for corrosion once a month helps to give you the opportunity to address any issues before they become serious.
Check for broken glass
The silicon wafers inside your solar panels are covered by extremely durable tempered glass. This glass is rated to withstand bad weather conditions, even hair storms. However, fallen tree branches or an especially bad storm can result in broken panels. If you notice any broken panels, you should call your solar installer immediately.
Look for faulty wiring
All solar arrays contain an inverter, which converts the direct current the panels produce into the alternating current used in your homes electrical system. In many cases, each panel is wired in a series to one single inverter which creates many potential points of failure.
Faulty wiring can be difficult to diagnose. There will sometimes be a visual indication such as a snapped wire or a broken connection, but this may not always be the case. However, there are two ways to diagnose faulty wiring. Many of the new systems come with real-time production tracking, so if your system uses this technology you can check it to see if it is under-performing. If you have an older system that does not use this technology, you can use your monthly bill as an indicator of any potential issues. If you notice a problem, do not attempt to repair it yourself, but instead be sure to call your installer.
Breakthrough in New Material to Harness Solar Power
Solar energy is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of clean energy. With new technologies being discovered, solar power is one step closer to becoming the most affordable and efficient way to harness the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source in the world.
A physicist at the University of Toledo, Dr. Yanfa Yan, has been pushing solar cells to new levels and recently made a significant breakthrough in the chemical formula and process to make the new material to harness solar power.
Yan, who has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy, envisions that the ultra-high efficiency material, a tandem perovskite solar cell, will be ready to debut in full-size solar panels on the consumer market soon.
Perovskites, compound materials with a special crystal structure formed through chemistry, would replace silicon which as of now remains the solar-cell material of choice for converting the suns light into electrical energy.
“We are producing higher-efficiency, lower-cost solar cells that show great promise to help solve the world energy crisis,” Yan said. “The meaningful work will help protect our planet for our children and future generations. We have a problem consuming most of the fossil energies right now, and our collaborative team is focused on refining our innovative way to clean up the mess.”
The research paper published in the journal Science discusses how the photovoltaics team is fine-tuning a mix of lead and tin to advance technology closer to its maximum efficiency. These efforts have recently brought the efficiency of the new solar cells up to about 23 percent, while silicon solar panels on the market today have about an 18 percent efficiency rating.
About five years ago Yan’s team at the University of Toledo identified the ideal properties of perovskites and he has since focused on producing an all-perovskite tandem solar cell that brings together two different solar cells to increase the total electrical power generated by using two different parts of the sun’s spectrum.
While Yan’s team has improved the quality of the materials and the process to manufacture them at a low cost, more progress needs to be made. “The material cost is low and the fabrication cost is low, but the lifetime of the material is still an unknown,” Song said. “We need to continue to increase efficiency and stability.”
“Also, lead is considered a toxic substance,” Yan said. “I am determined to work with the solar industry to ensure solar panels made of this material can be recycled so they don’t cause harm to the environment.”
Top 5 Reasons to go Solar
Although many people think that the only benefits of going solar are saving the environment and cutting electricity costs, there are also many other reasons why going solar is beneficial. Here are the top five benefits that going solar could have for you.
By installing a solar system, you can benefit from numerous environmental benefits. Some of the main ways a solar system can help the environment are by helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a decrease in dependence on fossil fuels, cleaner air and water, and stronger economic growth.
The United States relies heavily on nonrenewable energy sources such as oil and natural gas, but at some point, these resources will run out due to the cost and environmental damage. However, solar power is a renewable source of energy that will never run out, and by going solar you will no longer have to worry about the rising costs of nonrenewable energy sources.
By going solar you can reap monetary benefits such as savings each month, savings over decades, and a lifetime return on your investment. No matter the size of your solar system, you will instantly realize the savings on your electric bill and will continue to save on future bills. With a big enough system, you can even produce enough energy to eliminate your electric bill completely.
Add value to your home
Having a solar panel system installed on your home can increase the property value of your home by about seventeen percent, resulting in being able to ask a higher price for your home than you would have been able to before the system was installed.
Stay ahead of the curve
By installing a solar panel system on your home, you will not only be keeping up with the property owners in your community, but you will be outpacing them. By installing a solar panel system, you can outdo your neighbors by generating passive income through a solar energy investment in your home. There are also many states offering renewable energy incentives for property owners who are investing in solar panel energy systems. Once you qualify for the incentive system, your local energy company will be responsible for paying you for the clean energy produced by your solar panels, resulting in a zero-balance owed bill or a negative electricity bill.
Is going solar right for you?
If you are thinking about using solar power in your home, it is important that you consider a few things before installing your solar panel system.
The first thing you should do is review your utility bills and see how much energy you used in the last year and look at what your costs were. You should also see what part of the total bill is for “metered” electricity, and what portion of your bill is for other items, such as delivery costs because even if the amount of metered electricity is reduced, you’ll still need to pay the utilities fixed charges.
Another thing you should consider is how you use energy and how you can reduce the amount of electricity used in your home. Making your home and appliances more energy efficient and ensuring that your home is properly weatherized can help to reduce your energy needs.
Before installing solar panels, you should also consider how long you will be in your home. A residential solar panel system is typically designed to stay on your home for at least 20 years. If you think you may move in that time span, it is important to find out how installing a system will affect your ability to sell your house. You should also be sure to ask the solar company about its policy on transferring the contract to a new homeowner after your home is sold.
It is also important that you figure out what size system you need to meet your average energy usage, and that you learn about the different products available in your area.
Solar energy systems also use one or more inverters to convert direct current electricity from the solar panels into alternating current electricity which is used by your appliances and outlets. The amount of power you get from a solar panel system depends on the average number of house of direct sunlight your roof gets, the pitch, age, and condition of your roof, the size and strength of your system, and environmental factors such as snow, dust or shade that may cover the system.
Another important thing to do before installing a solar energy system is to contact your utility to see what arrangements it makes with homeowners who produce solar power. Your utility may use “net metering,” which pays you or gives you credit for excess power your system produces during the day and returns to the grid.
Lastly, if you have a homeowner’s association you need to find out if you need their approval to install and system.
Top 10 Solar Panel Myths Busted
Even as residential solar panel installation becomes more popular many myths about solar panels and solar energy are still very widespread. Here are the top 10 myths and the facts that prove them untrue.
Solar panels do not work well in cold climates
Typically, most solar panels work best in cold, sunny climates. Because conductivity increases in cold temperatures, having panels in cold, sunny climates helps make electricity flow more efficiently.
Solar power will get more efficient, so I should wait to buy or install
Although many companies are still working to develop new and improved solar panels, the current technology has been used since the 1960s and is very effective and well established. The potential amount of efficiency you may gain, and money you may save, from future panels, is very small compared to the panels readily available today.
I will not live in my home long enough to make my investment in solar back
Depending on the system, solar panels can pay for themselves within a 6 to 15-year time-frame and combined with the best state and federal tax incentives, you have the potential to start seeing a return on your investment in 2 to 4 years. Even if you do not plan to be in your house for the next 15 years, solar panels increase the resale value of a home by about $15,000, so you can still get a good return on your investment when you sell your home.
Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun
Solar panels are positioned to maximize sun exposure when they are installed, meaning that no type of tracking system is necessary for performance. Some newer solar panels do include tracking systems for an extra cost, but it is not necessary that you purchase this for your panels to be successful.
Solar panels do not operate well in snowy or cloudy conditions
Snow and clouds can reduce the amount of solar energy produced by solar panels, but they can still work efficiently. In snowy climates, most often panels are positioned in a way that allows for the snow to slide off once it has accumulated.
Solar panels require constant maintenance
Solar panels are built to be durable and require minimal maintenance. Many professionals recommend an annual inspection of the panels to keep them in top condition, but not much further maintenance is required.
Solar panels will look unattractive
Ultimately, the appeal of solar panels is subjective, but many professionals can install them in locations and positions that minimize the visual impact.
Solar panels will damage my roof
Professional installers are skilled at installing panels on all roof types. These professionals will not damage a homeowners roof, and in many cases, solar panels can even extend the life of the roof by protecting it from the elements.
Only a few states offer financial incentives for installing panels
Almost every state in the United States offers incentives for solar energy. In addition to any state incentive offered, the federal government is also offering a 30% tax credit for any solar systems installed by the end of 2019.
Most solar systems will store excess energy in batteries
Most home solar power systems do not store energy in batteries. They are instead connected to the power grid via net metering, and homeowners are credited with the energy that their solar panels generate and add to the electrical grid.
Ground-Mounted vs. Rooftop-Mounted Solar Panels
When thinking about going solar, one main thing you will want to consider is if you want ground-mounted or rooftop-mounted solar panels. While both are good options, they both offer different benefits and it is important that you choose the one best suited for you and your needs.
If you have a large yard or a lot of space near your home, ground-mounted panels could be the right choice for you. Having a large amount of space can allow you to install a much larger solar energy system, and will free you from any sizing restraints due to the size of your roof.
Installing ground-mounted panels can help ensure that you are getting maximum solar energy out of your panels. Solar panels are supposed to face either south or west to get the most sunlight possible. If your roof does not face either of these directions then ground-mounted panels could be a good option for you. Since they are not restricted to the direction of your roof, you can install ground-mounted panels in any direction which could potentially allow for more sunlight.
While solar panels are typically low maintenance, there may be a time when you need to clean them or have a repair done and since ground-mounted panels are low and easily accessible this will be an easy task. The only thing to keep in mind is that owners of ground-mounted panels will need to be sure to keep them free of snow in cold weather since the snow will not be able to slide off if it has built up high on the ground around the panel.
Ground-mounted panels can be a great option for someone with lots of space, however, a couple of things to keep in mind are that they tend to be a little more costly and can sometimes be very noticeable in your yard. Installing the panels on the ground requires additional time, materials, and labor so they can tend to be more costly. They also typically sit a few inches to several feet above the ground and can tend to look bulky, so you may want to consider rooftop panels if you have a very manicured lawn and garden.
With rooftop-mounted panels costs are usually lower than ground-mounted panels. Rooftop panels are much more common and they are usually easier and faster to install. One of the only extra costs you may want to consider is the condition of your roof. Panels must be installed on a roof that is in good condition and is expected to last at least 20 years, so if your roof is in bad condition you may have to have it fixed before you can install your panels.
Rooftop panels also offer the benefit of being less noticeable, and can even sometimes be installed on the back of your house so that they are not as visible from the front. They can also help save you space in your yard by being installed on your roof instead, however, this can sometimes limit you on how large of a system you are able to install.
With rooftop panels, two of the main issues that could arise are positioning and cleaning. Since they are being placed on your roof, the panels are restricted by the type of roof, the angle, and the direction of the roof. Also, with the panels being up on the roof owners will have to be more cautious when it comes to cleaning their panels and will possibly need to invest in a professional cleaning and check up each year.
The article below is from the Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar Chief is a proud member of the SEIA.
Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid. Many states have passed net metering laws. In other states, utilities may offer net metering programs voluntarily or as a result of regulatory decisions. Differences between states’ legislation and implementation mean that the benefits of net metering can vary widely for solar customers in different areas of the country.
What Is Net Metering?
Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if a residential customer has a PV system on the home’s rooftop, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backwards to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods where the home’s electricity use exceeds the system’s output. Customers are only billed for their “net” energy use. On average, only 20-40% of a solar energy system’s output ever goes into the grid. Exported solar electricity serves nearby customers’ loads.
Giving Customers Control Over Their Electricity Bills
Net metering allows utility customers to generate their own electricity cleanly and efficiently. During the day, most solar customers produce more electricity than they consume; net metering allows them to export that power to the grid and reduce their future electric bills. California public agencies and schools will save $2.5 billion in electricity costs over the next 30 years using net metering.
Creating Jobs & Encouraging Private Investment
Net metering provides substantial statewide economic benefits in terms of jobs, income and investment. Net metering increases demand for solar energy systems, which in turn creates jobs for the installers, electricians, and manufacturers who work in the solar supply chain. Today, the solar industry employs more than 250,000 American workers in large part due to strong state net metering policies which have allowed the solar industry to thrive.
Protecting the Electric Grid
Unfortunately, some utilities perceive net metering policies as lost revenue opportunities. In fact, net metering policies create a smoother demand curve for electricity and allow utilities to better manage their peak electricity loads. By encouraging generation near the point of consumption, net metering also reduces the strain on distribution systems and prevents losses in long-distance electricity transmission and distribution.