Solar power systems have been available for homeowners for decades. Solar is a renewable, environmentally friendly source of energy. Advocates for solar power will tell you that you can save a lot of money in power bills over the lifetime of such a system. But, remember that while sunlight is free, solar power is not. It can be a big investment, and like all investments, you need to do some research before you commit.
First off, you need to know that you’re going to get enough sunlight. Roofs heavily shaded by surrounding trees won’t work. In addition, the panels will need to face south, or as close to it as possible. And they’ll need to be angled to properly catch the maximum of sunlight.
Comly Wilson, the managing editor of the CleanEdison Blog says there are five things you must think about when considering solar power. Number one on his list is reducing the amount of electricity you use before you put the solar system together. Using energy efficient appliances and make smart choices around your home can reduce your power demand by up to 30%. And that will put you closer to energy independence. You can read the rest of his ideas here.
You can use the power generated from a solar system directly, supplementing it with a generator or batteries for times when the sun isn’t shining. Batteries add a lot to the cost and maintenance of a solar system, and have to be replaced on a regular basis. Electricity from the solar system or batteries has to be converted, using an inverter, to switch it to the AC used by our appliances, lights and electronics. Another option is to hook your solar power into the local power grid. Any energy you don’t use is purchased by the power company.
Installing a solar system is not something you can do yourself. Hire a licensed electrician with experience in solar systems. The Federal and state governments offer tax incentives for homeowners using solar. Some utility companies will lease solar gear to you, and with the right set-up, you can sell excess energy back to them. If you’re interested in buying a house with a solar system already installed, you’ll want to see copies of the energy bills and records of the costs of maintaining the system. Sellers will need to provide the same information. Even a modest energy savings can be a powerful incentive for potential buyers.
If you’d like to learn more about solar energy and your home, try these sites.