What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy or solar power is essentially using the sun and transferring the light into a source that can be used to power our electronics.  Renewable resources are set to be the way of the future, and solar is leading the way among forms of alternative energy.  Photo voltaic panels, or PV, are the objects that are installed on the roof of your home. A process then takes place within the PV panel to transfer the sun’s energy into a source of electricty to power your home.

The process involves Photons ionizing the semiconductor material within the solar panel, causing the electrons to free themselves from their atomic bond. The electrons are then forced to go in a certain direction, which then creates your source of electricity, which is then powered to your home or business.

Cost of Solar Panels and a Solar System

Over the last decade, the cost of installing a solar system at your house has drastically decreased. This chart from the Solar Energy Industries Association shows that the cost of a solar installation has decreased by almost 33% in the past decade. This, along with the fact that many states are providing tax breaks and credits for installing the solar systems in your home, is sure to spark some demand for this shift towards a renewable source of energy.

Set up is fairly easy, and it is pretty simple to get a consultation on whether or not your house is a good candidate for a solar installation. Even while the upfront costs are still a bit costly, with the average system possibly running around $10,000, the long term benefits far outweigh the disadvantages of a solar system, due to the fact that your investment will be paid off, and eventually earn you money throughout the length of your mortgage. Not only that, on average your home’s value will increase anywhere from 5-15% just from installing the solar panels.

Advantages of Solar Energy

The initial advantages of solar energy or a solar system should be fairly obvious, considering its a renewable resource and eliminates dependency on fossil fuels like coal and oil.  Many of the other benefits should be really intriguing to homeowners.  Being able to cut your electric bill anywhere from 50-70% just from the solar installation is a great kicker.  Not only do you get to pocket some extra money every month, but you are actually taking steps to help reduce your carbon footprint on the Earth, which should be a bit of a consolation prize.

The systems are only getting more efficient as more research and development goes into solar energy industry, which is always good for you. For those that haven’t heard Elon Musk’s solar giant Solar City is currently developing a solar system that will go onto the roof of your home, but will look essentially like a normal roof. For those that are resisting the switch due to the big ugly PV panel that has to be attached to your roof, this should be fantastic news. Also if you like making money while saving money (who doesn’t) a lot of counties will actually pay you back for unused or excess power you generate back into the grid!

Your first solar, DIY or Solar System?

For those that aren’t ready to sink the big investment into installing solar on your home, there are still some other solutions out there. There are DIY solar panel guides all over that you can try yourself if you are somewhat handy. The full starter kits are probably the best route for most homeowners to go. You may not be able to power your entire house on these small setups, but they can still be truly beneficial for powering certain small appliances our outdoor electrical units.

Check out our post of a DIY system you can install here.

There are also many different products you can purchase, that many of you may already have. Things like solar powered outdoor lights, string lights, and lamps all exist and are really selling way across online platforms. Even though these are small steps, every step is a good step towards reducing your carbon footprint and help towards the switch to renewable resources. We pay our electric companies billions of dollars and it is time to start putting some of that money back into our wallet.

However if you are ready to make the step towards a solar installation for your home and you really do see the advantages of solar, here is how you know you are ready:

  • You have an electric bill over $150 every month
  • Your home is a good candidate for a solar system. Zillow gives most homes a rating on their sun score, so check that out if you aren’t sure, however a consultation will always be more accurate.
  • You truly want to make an effort towards reducing your carbon footprint and moving towards renewable resources
  • You are tired of giving thousands per year to electric companies, when making an investment in solar energy now will increase your homes value and essentially pay you in the long term.

 

8 Comments

  1. That is a great chart showing how much the price of solar energy has come down over the last 13 years.

    I need to check my house on Zillow to see if it is a good candidate that is a nice feature. I definitely have an electric bill over $150.

    In your opinion is it worth even on older homes? My house was built in the late 1970’s so I don’t think the construction itself is very energy efficient.

    • It is definitely worth it on older homes as well! Of course it will definitely help to get your house up the maximum energy efficiency standards first to maximize your investment.

      Many companies exist that help, for example in the New England area, Rise Engineering helps homes take advantage of tax breaks and credits to bring your home up to standard for a very reasonable price because of those tax breaks. This includes things like switching bulbs to LED, insulation in attic and walls, ventilation and heating etc.

      This of course is a great first step to maximizing your homes efficiency, and the investment on switching to solar would be the icing on the cake to become extremely energy independant.

  2. I have had solar panels on my house now for nearly five years where I live here on the east coast of Australia and they have since paid for themselves.

    Since I’ve had my panels installed, I get credits instead of bills from the electricity company because I get a feed in tariff for the electricity fed back into the grid and just get charged for what I used.

    If you live in a place where you are getting plenty of sunshine, then it’s a no brainer to get solar panels because your costs of living will be reduced.

    It’s been a great decision to get solar panels as it’s definitely worth the investment.

    • Success stories are always great! I have heard of many people getting credits due to feeding system back into the grid so that is a tough advantage of solar to compete with.

      Also, 5 years is a really great turnaround time for the investment!

  3. Hello there,
    The cost of implementing solar cells in your back yard has decreased in the past decade, mostly because of the funding by the government – I am talking about Europe. However, people started to abuse the system and the funding got pretty much shut down. It’s still pretty expensive to make your own solar cell power-hub and cover at least some of the costs, however, it all depends on where you live since the amount of sunlight you get varies on that. It’s definitely worth it in the long run so I would say go for it. Do you have a solar system at your place ?

    • Hey!

      That is really unfortunate that they abused the system. What exactly were they doing to abuse it? I have heard stories that the installation companies would register just the addition of a new circuit as a whole new system so the homeowner could double dip. Sounds like the solar companies trying to make some extra bucks on the side as well which is unfortunate.

      We have personally tried and use some 12V systems for powering appliances but not a full home setup on the roof. However we know and have talked to many people in the Massachusetts area (the state is giving heavy incentives to switch) that have had great success with actually making money in the long term due to the energy company paying them back for the excess!

  4. In this day and time so many persons are intrested in using solar energy, using solar is not nothing new because I have been hearing about these system from a child. Many persons are now enjoying the benefits of solar energy. Thanks for shharing this most wonderful post that is well detailed and filled with good infromation, I am sure that your readers will love what you are sharinga and they will learn a lot also.

    • It truly is a big benefit and it is growing at a faster rate than ever so it will continue to benefit many more people!

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