Harnessing Home Solar Energy
If you’ve ever wondered whether the benefits of solar energy can outweigh the costs, you’re not alone. Solar power has grown over the years in both businesses and residential homes in response to efficient green technology and tax incentives. Solar energy also has many advantages including saving on home energy costs, increasing home value, and decreasing energy reliance.
How do Solar Panels work?
Solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) cells which harness sunlight, transform it into energy, and then send that energy to an inverter which converts the electricity from DC to AC to power the home. There are two types of solar installations on residential homes – grid-tied solar, and off-grid solar.
The more common grid-tied system, as the name implies, is tied to the grid and funnels energy into the grid if the system produces more electricity than it uses. This results in a credit on a power bill representing a payment from the power company for the electricity that the home produced. The biggest drawback to this system, however, is that it is unable to power a home during a power failure due to the preventive measures power companies take to keep back-feeding issues from occurring.
Off-grid systems, on the other hand, store the power they generate into batteries instead of feeding it into the grid. This power storage allows the home to run at night or overcast days or during power outages, which is not possible with the grid-tied system.
What is the Cost of Solar Energy?
Solar panels can save you money on energy bills, but they can be quite expensive to purchase and install. Many energy companies offer substantial subsidies, but the cost can still be quite high. Many people who purchase solar panels do so with the help of a loan, and others choose to lease their systems to save on the cost of installation.
The easiest way to calculate the average cost of solar panels is to look at its price in dollars per watt. In 2017, most homeowners are paying between $2.87 and $3.85 per watt to install solar, and the average gross cost of solar panels before tax credits is $16,800. Using the US average for system size at 5 kW (5000 watts), the cost for a solar panel system will range from $10,045 to $13,475 after tax credits.
That’s nine percent lower than it was a year ago, and solar panel system costs are continuing to fall. However, it’s important to compare price quotes as total costs can vary depending on the region or state that you live in.
Whether solar panels will work for your home or not, it’s amazing to see how much green energy and technology has grown over the years and realize the potential it has for the future!
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