Solar panels are all the rage right now. And that’s for understandable reasons. For starters, there’s global warming to contend with. And increasingly, people are becoming conscious of their carbon footprint and how that contributes to our planet heating up exponentially.
Hence, there’s this desire to help mitigate the problem, at least in small ways. Also, there’s no longer a shortage of manufacturers. While before, only those with lots of money to spare could afford them, these days, solar panels are accessible even to households with a limited income stream.
Read on if you’ve heard about solar panels and are curious how they can fit into your lifestyle.
What are solar panels, and how do they work?
Solar panels are photovoltaic cells that absorb solar radiation upon direct contact. The electric charges then respond to the PV cells’ electrical field through solar panels’ built-in parts that convert direct current to alternating current. Some also come with storage components that allow energy harvest for later use. That’s practical for days when the sun doesn’t shine.
Solar panel systems come in two general categories: stand-alone and grid-connected. Stand-alone PV systems use solar batteries to store generated electricity. On the other hand, grid-connected systems rely on a local utility grid, ensuring a household does not run out of electricity. In the case of surplus harvest, the excess energy goes to the grid.
Benefits of Solar Panels
Many households have shifted to solar panels because of the benefits they provide.
- Savings – The lifetime savings from solar energy quickly recoup the system’s outright costs. You then have surplus funds to funnel to other household expenses, such as groceries. If you harvest more than you need, you can sell energy to the local utility grid.
- An abundant source of energy – Solar panels give you access to abundant energy all year round. Contrary to popular belief, your solar panels still harvest energy even if you live where rain is constant.
- Home value appreciation – Should you decide to resell your home, a solar panel system on your room can increase its market value. In that case, you get to profit off of going green.
- Independence – Electricity grids are susceptible to intermittent system failures. You spare your household from energy outages thanks to solar panels.
- Peace of mind – There’s no escaping the subject of climate change. Here, we all share the guilt. If you want some peace of mind, there’s no way but to go green. And you can’t get any greener than powering your home with clean energy from solar panels.
Top Considerations for Using Solar Panel Systems
While cheap and abundant electricity via solar panels sounds tempting and exciting, you cannot just wing the whole power shift. You need to go about the process carefully. Mind the following considerations to avoid mistakes.
- Roof suitability
Roofs are not created equal. Some are more or less flat, while others tilt and slope. Whether you’ll need minor roof renovations will depend on what your current roof looks like.
The goal is for your roof system to be sturdy enough to accommodate the additional weight from solar panels and to allow the system to maximize the absorption of available sun rays throughout the day via strategic positioning.
- Required power
Account for your household’s monthly energy use. Base your PV system on that calculation. For example, the average wattage for solar-powered homes in the UK is 4 kW.
Here, you have two options. Do it yourself or get the work done by a professional. Pursue the former only if you’re sufficiently handy. Otherwise, let experts install your PV system. The last thing you want to happen is to try to save on installation costs via DIY only to end up ruining the system, which would be costlier.
- Care and lifespan
PV systems last anywhere between 20 and 30 years. They require little maintenance, too. Just make sure they’re free from dirt and all kinds of obstructions at all times. Also, keep in mind that it’s normal for solar panels to level down in terms of harvest efficiency as they age.
- Where to buy
Manufacturers and suppliers of PV systems have cropped up left and right. Hence, doing business with a brand you can trust is crucial. Seek referrals from people and companies involved in green initiatives. Read reviews and testimonies. Research as much as you can before investing in solar panels.
Once you’re ready to purchase, keep these tips in mind.
- Choose solar panel material wisely
If you value efficiency, you can’t go wrong with monocrystalline solar panels. However, if your priority is being as eco-friendly as possible, your best bet is polycrystalline panels. For those with limited resources, thin-film solar panels are the way to go. Meanwhile, amorphous solar panels suit smaller homes best.
- Opt for central inverters
Central inverters are the oldest inverter type for solar panels. They are also the most common. And that’s because they are pretty reliable. Your solar panel system needs a central inverter to monitor performance and output. Your other option is relatively cheaper string inverters.
- Buy power optimizers
For homes in shady locations, a power optimizer comes in handy. This inverter type is embedded within the panels’ solar cells. Even if your panels receive no more than six hours of direct sunlight each day, you can rest assured of a sufficient harvest.
Wrapping It Up
Solar energy is one of the cleanest energy sources out there. It’s also cheap to harvest, thanks to solar panels sold by many suppliers. The only reason solar panels have yet to become the norm, despite their accessibility and dependability, is how they could potentially push suppliers of traditional energy sources out of business.
But if you think about it, maintaining the status quo in energy supply and distribution benefits a few, not the entire planet. And the earth needs all the help it can get. If you wish to help, get behind solar panels not later but now.