Over the last decade, the solar industry has seen a 49 percent rise in its usage.
From the good it does for the environment to the amount of money it’s possible to save by investing, there’s no questioning why the increase has come. Even with the steep increase in its usage, a large portion of the United States still doesn’t fully understand the benefits of solar panels.
To understand the benefits, you must first understand how it works. Then the goodies can start flowing in.
Read on to learn how to generate your energy (and become energy independent) with the help of solar panels.
Where Does Traditional Power Come From?
Lett’s start with the basics.
Electricity is produced from a turbine pushing a fluid (liquid or gas) through a generator. There are different kinds of turbines used in the United States, like steam turbines, combustion (or gas), water, and wind. The most common turbine in the U.S. is a steam turbine.
To work this turbine, hot water and steam must be produced by burning fuel in a boiler or capturing heat from a fluid.
Now, what’s burned to capture the energy needed to create electricity? Fossil fuels. That’s right — coal, geothermal energy, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear energy, or even solar thermal energy.
This electricity is produced by a company that you then pay it to use.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Switching to solar panels allows you to avoid burning fossil fuels altogether, and lets you go straight to the source — the sun.
Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells or a solar cell made from silicon. When sunlight hits the silicon, it begins producing direct current energy. This energy can’t power most appliances in your home.
With the help of an in-home converter, that energy is changed to alternating current energy, which can be used to power appliances and other things in your home.
When you switch to solar panels, the separate electricity company is cut out. You’re taken off the traditional power grid and placed onto your own. In fact, you’re actually able to contribute to the power grid.
Excess energy produced by your solar panels is sent to the grid, which some utility companies pay you for.
Why Should You Make the Switch?
Well, the most obvious reason is avoiding the burning of fossil fuels, a nonrenewable energy source. In turn, you’re exchanging it for a cleaner, renewable energy source.
The power grid you’re on right now (unless you’ve already installed solar panels) is used to power everything in your area. Businesses, offices, towers and lines, all of the homes in your neighborhood.
Because the sun is the source of your electricity and not that power grid, you’re less likely to experience a power outage or blackout.
Since you are no longer paying the electricity company to supply energy to your home, you end up saving money.
How Much Do Solar Panels Really Save You?
The short answer to this question — it depends on your area.
Across the country, utility prices have gone up by an average of 3 percent per year over the last ten years. When talking about savings with solar panels, it means the amount of money saved from your normal electricity bill.
In states like New York, the monthly savings sit at $73.41. Over 25 years, that number grows to $23,670. In Charlotte, North Carolina, monthly savings sit at $72.99. Over 25 years, that number climbs to $23,533.
In different areas of California, the savings over 25 years range from almost $40,000 to $42,000.
Adding solar panels also increases your property’s resale value. Like a new bathroom or home addition, solar panels are an upgrade.
You’re also entitled to a rebate on your solar panel investment with the solar Investment Tax Credit. In 2020, that tax credit sits at 26 percent of the amount you invested. In 2021, it drops to 22 percent. After that, the amount back sits 10 percent for businesses.
Some requirements need to be met before you’re entitled to the rebate.
Will They Damage My Roof?
You want the best solar company to install your solar panels.
A lot of homeowners are skeptical of solar panels because of the potential damage they may bring to their home’s roof, but this fear is often unnecessary.
Because holes need to be drilled into essential parts of your home’s roof, it’s understandable. These holes are for the lag bolts needed to hold the solar panels in place.
Holes may lead to leaks, right? Not necessarily. The bolts are designed to withstand extreme weather and have flashing surrounding each one to keep water out. Flashing is also placed on any corners your roof might have (i.e. where the horizontal plane meets a vertical one).
The flashing gets covered with material to keep it dry, and the holes get filled with sealant to keep water out of them.
Unless your roof was in poor condition beforehand, or the contractor you hired was not a licensed professional, there should be no damage to your roof. Accidents happen though, and it’s smart to ask any company about their workmanship warranty before signing anything.
This warranty helps in the rare instance that damage does occur to your roof at the hands of your solar panel installation company.
The Risk is Worth the Reward
When it comes to solar panels, there isn’t any huge risk. In this case, it’s all benefits. But some may see the time, investment, and energy needed to transition on their part as daunting, which it is.
Making the switch to traditional electricity (something that has likely always been around for homeowners in this generation) to solar panels is a big one, but it’s also a freeing one.
Straying from energy-consuming utility companies to venture out on your own toward an eco-friendly home is new for a lot of people, but it isn’t impossible.
If you’re curious to learn more about saving money and eco-friendly living, check out the rest of our blog.