Solar energy is a buzzworthy topic, and for good reason. Having solar panels installed on our property is one of the best things we could possibly do for our wallets and our planet. But even with all the talk of solar in the media, people still have some misconceptions and unanswered questions about this innovative technology. Here are answers to six of the most common questions homeowners and business owners all have about solar panels.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Energy?
Many of the benefits of switching to solar fall into one of two primary categories: environmental or financial. Using solar energy and other sustainable energy options is one of the best things we can do to cut down on pollution and slow global warming. By installing solar panels, you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by tens of thousands of pounds every single year!
Financially, switching to solar is just a smart move. A solar energy system has an average payoff time between 7 and 10 years. Your initial investment in solar could be less than you think, too. There are some programs that allow well-qualified homeowners to install solar panels with no initial cost! The money you’ve been spending on electricity every month could turn into a payment towards solar panels that increase your property value while reducing your family’s carbon footprint.
How Does Solar Panel Installation Work?
The best and safest option solar panel installation is to hire a qualified solar energy company to install your solar energy system. Let’s say you’re a homeowner in Minnesota who’s interested in solar energy. Contact solar energy companies in Minnesota and inquire about their process. Most Minnesota solar installation companies will first complete an energy audit on your home to determine how solar can best benefit your family. Then, they will engineer the perfect system to meet your energy needs.
Interestingly enough, the installation of the solar panels is generally the last step in a very involved process, and it’s a process that’s best completed with help from the pros (I don’t recommend DIY solar for that very reason)!
How Do Solar Panels Create Power?
Solar panels work by absorbing the sun’s rays and converting that energy into electricity for your home or business. The electricity produced by the panels is DC (direct current) electricity, which needs to be run through an inverter to power any building that runs on AC (alternating current) electricity.
Since solar panels collect energy from the sun, their efficiency may vary from day to day based on the weather and season. On a very sunny day, the panels could actually produce more energy than you need for your entire home. Conversely, a cloudy or rainy day means very little energy production.
What Do I Do with Excess Solar Energy Produced by My New System?
It’s possible your solar energy system will produce more energy than your home uses in a month. Many electric companies recognize this and don’t want that free energy from the sun to go to waste, so they will offer to “buy” your energy through a process known as net metering. In this process, your system’s surplus energy is fed back into the grid for other customers to use. The power company will credit you for this energy. When your panels aren’t producing quite as much electricity (like on a cloudy day), you can use this credit to get free energy back from the grid.
There are also a variety of energy storage options you can install in your home if you would prefer a backup of electricity in the event of a grid outage.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Solar panels are extremely durable, and many manufacturers are so sure of the quality of their solar system components that they come with a 25-year warranty. If you’re interested in maximizing your panels’ lifespan, you should ensure they are installed by a professional solar panel installer to avoid the potential of the components breaking down due to improper installation.
It’s also important to keep your panels clear of debris by installing them away from trees and other potential hazards. If you notice significant debris on the panels, remove it before it causes damage or decreases your system’s efficiency.
Can solar panels work in my state/region?
The short answer is yes. No matter where you live, you can be sure that your solar panels will generate some amount of energy. But in climates that don’t receive as many hours of sunlight in a day, you may need to adjust your expectations with the seasons.
A solar panel system in Minnesota during the chilly winter won’t generate as much energy as one in Arizona, but that doesn’t mean the Minnesota solar panel installation won’t be fruitful. In sunny summer months the system will produce more than enough energy, and the homeowner or business owner can still offset their energy costs through net metering!