Solar 101: An Introduction To Solar Power

Renewable energy, like solar power, is a great feature that lifts the value of your home, saves on monthly utilities, and helps the environment. Most homes and businesses are going solar for its many benefits. However, you need to know what it entitles before you invest in solar power.

You can summarize the basics of solar power as follows:

1️⃣ Solar panels generate renewable energy by converting sunlight into electricity that can power appliances, homes, and offices.

2️⃣ Solar power generated is entirely free, but it won’t be possible to generate electricity without the sun.

3️⃣ You can have solar power and use electricity from your local utility company.

☀️ What Is Solar Power?

Solar power is an excellent way to minimize monthly utility costs. However, solar systems can be complex, and solar panel installation can have a high initial price.

Solar power is also great for the environment as it is a renewable energy source and doesn’t require fossil fuels.

A solar energy system consists of many parts. Mainly, solar panels absorb solar energy from the sun and turn it into power. Then, an inverter converts the power from the panels to usable electricity. Further, these systems can store this electricity in batteries. As a result, you can use this power whenever you need to.

Racking is also an essential part of a solar system. Racking is the foundation, and you can mount these systems on it.

The charge controller will help you control the rate at the batteries charge from solar.

The great thing about solar is that you can store the energy when needed if it’s not in use. You can also monitor your system through additional equipment.

These components are available in various brands with unique features and advantages.

You can alternatively get a more straightforward Solar kit that combines all the aspects of a solar energy system into a conveniently compact system.

💡 The Fundamentals Of Solar Power

Solar energy uses almost free power and meets the world’s energy needs with minor environmental damage.

With each new generation of solar panels, the price of installation decreases. In addition, solar energy is multiplying as people look for environmentally friendly energy sources worldwide.

Once you know the process, it’s pretty simple to understand how solar energy works.

Solar power is generated by capturing the sun’s rays and transforming them into usable energy.

The electricity is best generated during the hours when it’s the hottest, like the hot afternoons.

Although there are various options for collecting and storing solar energy, the most common type is an “active solar power system.”

Solar panels are an example of an active system that uses a mechanism to convert sunlight into usable energy.

Photovoltaic cells, the building blocks of solar panels, convert individual light particles, or “photons,” into electrical current.

A semiconducting material is then used in the cells to convert the photons into usable direct current electricity. Again, silicone is an excellent material to use.

Direct current from the panels is converted to alternating current by an inverter connected via wires.

Then it is sent to the breaker box panel in your home or office, which you can use to power electronics and lighting.

Once again, solar is simple once you understand it.

If your solar system is compact, you may need to get linked to the local electrical grid. You can also access that electricity when your solar cell system doesn’t have enough power at night and on cloudy days.

🌤️ Benefits And Downsides Of Solar Power

Like everything in life, solar power does have good and bad aspects. Solar energy might be ideal in many situations, but it is only sometimes a viable alternative source of electricity.

Benefits of solar powerDownsides of solar power
Reduced electric bills are outstanding with solar power. So it’s the prominent reason people turn to solar power.Solar panels are costly to install. Therefore, they have high start-up costs.
Solar power can even eliminate your electric bills.Big and bulky silver frames usually don’t appeal to people’s eyes. However, the latest technology has advanced, and modern solar panels look better.
Modern solar panels fit into most roof types, and you can hardly see them.Solar power doesn’t work during nighttime. Many people wonder about this.
Solar power will also improve the value of your home. That way, you can earn much more when you sell your home.You will have to rely on other power sources during the night. You can avoid this problem when you install batteries into your solar system.
Studies have found that adding a solar system can add around $15,000 to the sale of your home.Solar systems are challenging to install in homes.
The best thing about solar is that it’s great for the planet as it’s a renewable energy source.It’s better to get professionals to install your system, but it does add extra costs you want to avoid adding.
Solar power can work in many climates, which is excellent for harsh environments.Solar might not fit your location.
Solar power also allows you to earn back money from the state. Solar incentives are available in many states, and you can earn cashback from your taxes.Many believe you have to live in excessive heat to have solar, but the heat can reduce the voltage solar panels produce.
You don’t need to replace your solar panels often, as they can last up to 35 years. In addition, solar panels can withstand snow, hail, and harsh weather.However, solar panels need sunlight to work, so it will be better if you live in an area with a bit of sun. Areas with less sun also require more extensive solar panels.
Net metering is also available in 38 states.Solar panels are costly, and many people aren’t able to afford the costs.

💰 Solar Rebates And Incentives Available In The US

Many solar rebates and incentives are available in the US when you decide to go to solar power.

Local utility rebates Give homeowners in the area some financial incentives to use solar power systems.

When installing a solar power system, some companies offer rebates on energy bills based on the energy the system generates, while others provide one-time subsidies.

Non-government organizations offer subsidized loans to help finance your solar cell system purchase.

You can discuss this with any installer in your area for more details you will want to know.

You can also qualify for certain tax exemptions in addition to tax credits.

Some solar incentives offer discounts and tax-free options when buying solar cell systems.

Net metering is also available in most states, allowing you to earn money back.

〰️ The Average Cost Of Solar Systems

When installing solar, you must consider the factors that can increase the cost.

Solar companies have different prices so that you can shop for the cheapest one.

The size, weight, and amount of panels you choose to install also matter.

The amount of panels you need depends on the energy your house uses, how much space there is on your roof, and the hours of sun the house gets.

The size of the system also affects how much the solar panels cost. But, again, prices vary from state to state because average system sizes and incentives vary from state to state.

The solar company will charge according to the difficulty of the installation. So if obstacles are in their way or the roof needs to be at the correct pitch, they may charge extra to fit the system.

Most solar panel systems cost between $15,000 and $20,000 for a 5 kW installation ($3 to $5 per watt). However, the prices do differ between the states.

You save more with solar cell systems than they cost, even if you see the results after a few years.

Essential Aspects Of Solar Panels

Solar panels are made from earth-abundant materials since silicone is their main component.

Solar panels are the main component in a solar system as you need them to harness solar energy from sunlight and convert it into electricity. You have two types of solar panels: solar thermal and photovoltaic.

Solar panels are the most expensive of the entire system. Labor included, they can become quite pricey.

The average price of these panels is about $12,000 after the federal tax incentives. It doesn’t include the labor costs.

Most importantly, solar panels have low maintenance costs. You must ensure they are clean and no shade is in the way.

Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to work. But they work best when they are in direct sunlight.

Consider the shape and inclination of the roof. For example, the solar panels have to face 30 degrees south; otherwise, they won’t work efficiently.

Solar systems are entirely silent. While generators make a lot of noise.

🔋 Batteries For Solar Systems

Solar batteries store power you can use later when you need it.

They can’t work independently, so they need other equipment to work. Sealed lead acid batteries are one of the best for solar power.

Lead acid batteries have a short lifespan but are lower in maintenance than others.

On the other hand, Lithium-ion batteries are the best for a solar system because they waste less energy and require no maintenance. They also have a good life cycle.

Lithium-ion batteries compared to standard sealed lead-acid batteries:

Lithium-ion batteriesSealed lead-acid batteries
No maintenancelittle maintenance
The lifespan of 10 to 20 yearsThe lifespan of 3 to 5 years
CostlyAffordable
Discharge of 95%50% discharge is the recommended level

Solar systems can not generate solar power at night, or when the weather is cloudy, so it’s better to invest in a good battery for your solar system.

🔌 What You Need To Know About Inverters

A solar inverter is a principal component that lets the energy flow through the solar system and converts it.

Your battery bank’s DC is converted to AC by an inverter, providing your home’s AC wiring with either 110V or 220V.

DC electricity maintains a constant voltage in one direction. In AC, electricity flows in both directions.

You also have quite a few different types of inverters. For example, you have a sine wave, a square wave, and a modified sine wave.

A sine wave is the best choice as it is the purest current wave.

Your solar system cannot work without an inverter which is why it’s so important.

First developed as mechanical devices in the 19th century, inverters have given way to the electronic transistors used in modern electrical switches.

When choosing a brand for your inverter, it’s best to look for one with an extended warranty when something goes wrong. Strong service track records are also a good aspect.

Several people have reported that certain manufacturers provide subpar support, particularly in the case of warranty claims.

💼 Portable Solar Systems

Portable solar systems are great when you and your family travel a lot.

There are also quite a few types of solar systems. And each of these systems has a different purpose.

Solar-powered portable battery chargers have solar cells and a battery. They can power your phones and other essential devices that take USB ports. They are minimal and useable.

Next up, we have the portable solar panel kits, which can power more and are also relatively small.

Most portable solar systems have batteries. Deep-cycle batteries are the best option.

While portable solar systems are great, they do have a few downsides.

You may not qualify for any solar tax credit as it must count as a primary or secondary home when you use it in an RV.

Portable solar systems also have a lower durability rate than standard solar systems, with an average of 10 years at most.

While portable solar systems have downsides, they also have some upsides.

They are versatile and can be used everywhere by everyone. While you camp, you don’t have to worry about not having electricity.

They are weatherproof and can withstand harsh weather. In addition, they cover the panels with a special coating and protective materials.

You can also save money by powering the significant appliances in your house with portable solar systems. For example, fridges, air conditioners, and washing machines consume a lot of electricity. You can cut it down by just using it for these items.

🙋‍♀️ FAQs

Is Owning Solar Worth It?

Solar can save you money on electricity and reduce your carbon footprint. Factors that affect cost-effectiveness include system size, sunlight, and local electricity rates. Research local options, consider upfront costs and incentives, and weigh long-term costs and benefits to determine if solar panel ownership is worthwhile.

Does Having Solar Panels Reduce My Electric Bill?

Yes, having solar panels can reduce your electric bill by generating electricity from sunlight to power your home or business and potentially selling excess solar energy back to the grid. The savings depend on your system size, sunlight, and local electricity rates.

Does Solar Add Value To Your Property?

Solar energy can increase the value of your home by 3 to 4%. However, it depends on many factors, including the size of the system.

🔑 Key Takeaway

If you want to go solar, keep in mind that solar power costs can be high. Of course, you should save on costs where you can, but you shouldn’t be cheap and buy a solar system that won’t last a while. On the other hand, solar technology is simple once you understand the concept.

I’m the website operator and editor here at ALTA Devices. The solar revolution is the most exciting thing to happen in a generation! I’ve written extensively on solar, electric vehicles, and the electrification of the marine industry. You can find out more on LinkedIn below: