The world is in turmoil. The financial markets have crashed, and businesses are finding it hard to make ends meet. You may have noticed yourself that your bank account is feeling dryer slightly, and you’ve probably had to cut down on a few luxuries. The economy is in an extremely fragile state meaning energy isn’t getting any cheaper either. Consequently, many of us are now trying to cut down on our outgoing’s by switching energy companies and hunting for the best deals. But the 21st century boasts a more convenient solution. Alternative energy.
Solar power, despite using technology that has been known about for decades, has really managed to find its own in the 21st century. Panels are cheaper to purchase, and they now perform more efficiently than ever.
But what is a solar panel, and how does it work?
A solar panel is a collection of photovoltaic cells. Its purpose being to convert light energy, (photons), from the sun into usable electrical energy. For those of you interested in the field of physics, the science behind solar energy depends on the photo-electric effect. As an investment, a solar panel could prove to be very profitable for you, potentially halving your annual energy bills. A great way to fend off the credit crunch.
Solar panels absorb energy from the sun and use it to generate AC electricity that can be fed throughout your home. There is no middleman or provider looking for their cut so the energy produced is free. Although your panels may not be able to completely rule out your dependence on mains electricity, you will notice a significant dip in your electricity bill when you start to utilize the sun as an energy source. Financially, solar panels could make a fantastic asset to your home leaving your bank account feeling heavier than it was before.
You’ve convinced me, I want to go solar – now what?
Now that you’ve decided to go solar and reap the financial benefits that go with it, here are the steps that you should take:
1. Check for local government subsidies – many states offer tax incentives and subsidies for solar panels. Check local government websites to attain a grant.
2. Lease or buy? You need to consider whether you wish to purchase your solar panels outright or rent them from a company. Leasing from a company ensures the maintenance of the panels through warranty. However, despite the large upfront payment, buying your solar panels may prove very profitable for you in the long run, considering the fact that they often live way past their 25-year life expectancy.
3. Battery or on the grid? How do you want your solar energy to be stored? Despite there being better batteries developed all of the time, they nearly always lack the efficiency that an on-grid system boasts. They also require extra maintenance. If you live in a rural area, however, they may be your only choice.
4. Inverter or Microinverter? The microinverter is a fairly recent addition to solar power technology. Unlike central inverters, they are built into the solar panels and thus can improve the efficiency of the transfer of electrical energy. Depending on your budget my advice would be to opt for solar panels that host the more modern piece of kit. The microinverter.
5. Integrated roofing tiles or traditional solar panels? Unless your home or desired building is yet to be built, the obvious option would be to choose traditional solar panels that are to be installed on the top of your roof. However, integrated roofing tiles do boast some benefits, including the protection of roof insulation due to the prevention of ultra-violet rays reaching the roof membrane.
6. Electricity, hot water or both? In terms of energy savings, solar power can save you up to 70% through hot water heating, and up to 50% through the generation of electricity. You need to consider how to configure your solar powered system depending on your utility bills and your lifestyle.
7. Choose a brand. There is a whole range of companies online who sell solar panels. You need to find a company that offers the right price, for the right quality. The top of the range panels can convert energy with 18% efficiency, and so you need to calculate the benefits of a larger investment. The brand should be established with staff who have many years of experience in the solar world. Check out testimonials and reviews to gather an idea of the company’s reputation.
8. Find an installer. Installation can often be completed in a day or two yet it is still important that you find an installer who is correctly qualified.
He/She should be certified under the Microgeneration certification scheme and should have performed many installations prior to
his/her visit to your home.
Solar panels for your home are a convenient way for you to put less pressure on the environment, and on your bank account.