The price of buying and installing solar panels on your home has plummeted nearly 70% in the last several years.
That means solar solutions are becoming an affordable option for many homeowners. Because once you make the initial switch from electric energy to solar energy, you can actually save over $1,000 on your energy bill a year.
It’s a smart switch, but a lot of people aren’t sure how they can make solar panels work for them or how to even start the process of getting them installed.
If you’re one of those people, take a look at this quick solar solutions guide. You’ll learn everything from how solar panels work to how to hire the right solar installers.
So let’s get started.
What Are Solar Panels?
Solar panels are made of things called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are usually black and white, and they are shaped like flat, rectangular panels.
You’ve probably seen them installed on the roofs of homes and businesses, above cars in parking lots, and on the ground in residential yards or other property.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Think of them like giant batteries that absorb the sun, transform it into energy, and power the rest of your house with it.
The process is a little more detailed than that, but this is a simple way to put it. Solar panels let you use clean energy from the sun and still use your home utilities like normal.
The Utility Meter
If your home is connected to an electrical grid, you have something called a utility meter. This is something your current energy provider uses to measure and supply your home with the right amount of energy it needs.
When you switch to solar panels, you won’t need to get your energy from that energy provider anymore, but you can still use the utility meter to measure and access your solar power system.
Any solar panels you install on your property will eventually be connected to your utility meter as well. So if you’re ever curious about the amount of solar energy you use, you can look at your utility meter to find out.
How Do I Use Solar Power at Night?
One of the main reasons people don’t install solar power on their house is because they aren’t sure how they’ll get power when it’s dark or cloudy outside.
There’s actually a simple solution to this problem, and it’s called net metering.
On certain days, like during the middle of a hot summer, your solar panels will absorb more energy than it needs. Even though it is overproducing, you still use the same amount of energy you normally would.
Net metering allows you to send this power you aren’t using to the grid in exchange for credits on your electric bill. Then on days where your solar panels don’t get the amount of energy they need, you can use those credits to get extra energy from the grid.
This means your house always gets the energy it needs no matter how often the sun is out.
Think of net metering as a way to store extra power for later days, making solar panels an effective and efficient energy solution choice.
How Do I Switch to Solar Solutions?
Making the switch to a solar-powered home will take some time and patience. You’ll have to shop around for the right installer and the best prices, and you may have to make some changes to your property.
Here’s a list of important steps to take on your solar panel search.
Check Your Property
First of all, will your property even be able to benefit from solar panels? The solar panels have to be positioned in a place they will get the most direct sun for the majority of the day, usually 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. depending on where you live.
Are there tall buildings or trees that will block the sun? If you have trees on your property that aren’t in the way now, will they block the sun in a year or two? Do you have a chimney that casts a shadow on part of your roof?
Some solar panels completely shut off when they are cast in shadow, so the longer they are in strong sunlight the better.
Find Out How Many Solar Panels You’ll Need
This will depend on how much energy you need.
Take a look at your energy bill to find out how many kilowatts of energy you use on a normal day. When you multiply that number by .25, you’ll get the rough size of system you’ll need to give you the same amount of energy.
Search Around for a Good Installer
Don’t just settle for the first one you find. By looking at more than one place, you’ll be able to find the best price for the job.
This might take a bit of time and some research, but the lowered price is worth it. If you aren’t sure where to start, here’s a good hint: don’t use the biggest installers.
Avoid Leasing Solar Panels
A lot of people think leasing is a good option because it lowers the upfront cost.
But permanently buying them will increase your home sale value and give you better tax benefits.
If you still can’t afford the upfront cost, you can also consider getting a loan. They have low-interest rates, so it could be a good option providing you are still spending less than your electric energy bill.
If you are paying more than your average energy bill, you probably aren’t saving very much money and should choose a different option.
Get the Best Solar Solutions for Your Home
Making the switch to the right solar solutions can save you a lot of money in the long run. If you have net metering, you don’t even have to worry about “dead periods” during the night or when it’s raining.
It’s also a good way to help protect the environment.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at these five environmental benefits that come from solar panels.