Since 2008, there have been hundreds of thousands of solar panels installed across the country as more Americans choose to use the sun’s energy to power their daily lives. The cost of going solar decreases every year, in part because of expenditures made by the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). You might be thinking about finding a different way to use solar energy or installing a solar energy system on the roof of your house. There is no one-size-fits-all solar solution, but the following resources can assist you in determining what is best for you. Before you switch to solar, think about the following.
HOW IS SOLAR POWER USED?
The ability to capture solar energy and convert it to electricity mostly relies on two technologies. The first is photovoltaics, or PV, which is probably the one you are most familiar with. These are the panels that you may have noticed in fields or on rooftops. When the sun shines on a solar panel, it produces electricity because as photons from the sunshine are absorbed by the cells, an electric field forms across the layers.
CSP, often known as concentrated solar power, is the second technology. It is not suitable for domestic usage and is typically employed in very large power plants. Mirrors are used in this technique to reflect and focus sunlight onto receivers, which then gather solar energy and transform it into heat, which can subsequently be utilized to generate electricity.
CAN SOLAR PANELS BE FITTED TO MY HOME?
Despite the fact that solar panels are designed to operate in any environment, old or heavily forested rooftops occasionally make them unsuitable for solar systems. Rooftop panels might not be the best choice if there are trees close to your property that cast too much shade on your roof. Your roof’s size, form, and slope should all be taken into account. Although other roofs might also be acceptable, south-facing roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees often produce the best results from solar panels. The age of your roof and when it will need to be replaced are other factors to take into account.
You can still profit from solar energy even if a solar expert finds that your roof is not suited for solar or if you don’t own your home. Community solar enables many people to share the benefits of a single, installed on- or off-site solar installation. All members share in the costs of obtaining and installing a solar energy system, and they each have the option to invest in the shared system to the extent that best suits their financial situation. Study up on community solar.
Community solar enthusiasts can use a tool provided by SETO recipient EnergySage. With the help of the company’s Community Solar Marketplace, interested customers may quickly find and compare various community solar projects in their area by consolidating all of the possibilities into one location and standardizing project data.
HOW DO I BEGIN THE TRANSITION TO GOING SOLAR?
You can use a number of mapping systems created by SETO grantees to identify whether your roof is appropriate for solar power and to get estimates from local, pre-screened solar companies. In addition to these sources, an online search can assist you in locating nearby solar panel installation businesses. Since you’ll probably have a lot of alternatives, it’s crucial to carefully study reviews of solar firms to make sure you’re choose the right one for you and your house.
You can begin the process of getting solar with the aid of solar cooperatives and Solarize campaigns. Through a limited-time invitation to join the campaign, these programs enable associations of homeowners to collaborate in order to negotiate rates, choose an installation, and increase community interest in solar. In the long run, the price of the installations will drop as more residents sign up for the program.
CAN I SET UP SOLAR ON MY OWN?
Currently, using high-quality solar panels and hiring a certified professional with solar installation experience is the ideal strategy. The industry-recognized certification is granted by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
CAN I GENERATE HOW MUCH POWER USING SOLAR?
To do this, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) created a program called PVWatts. For each address in the world, it calculates the energy output and cost of grid-connected PV energy systems. It makes it simple for installers, manufacturers, small-building owners, and individuals to assess the performance of possible PV installations and even do cost comparisons between solar and utility costs. These tools are excellent for starting started, but for a personalized estimate of how much power your solar energy system is expected to produce, consult a solar installation.
NREL employs an average direct-current system size of 7.15 kilowatts with a 3–11 kilowatt range for its analyses. That much power, according to SETO awardee EnergySage, will suffice to supply all the energy requirements for a typical Austin, Texas home.
WILL GOING SOLAR ALLOW ME TO SAVE MONEY?
The amount of money you can save with solar energy depends on how much electricity you use, how big your solar energy system is, whether you decide to buy or lease your system, and how much power it can produce given the orientation of your roof and the quantity of sunshine that it receives. Your utility’s electricity rates and the amount it will pay you for the extra solar energy you feed back into the grid will both affect your savings. To find out the current electricity rates in your area, see the National Utility Rate Database.
Solar power is already economically competitive with the electricity provided by your local utility in some American communities. Since 2009, the cost of going solar has decreased yearly, and studies anticipate this trend to continue.Along with the price of panels, the cost of installation is also falling, including “soft expenditures” like inspection and permission fees.All of SETO’s funding initiatives aim to increase solar’s accessibility to customers and make solar more affordable.
It should be highlighted as well that energy efficiency improvements economically support solar energy. You’ll need less solar energy to power your home if you use Energy Star appliances and other items.
SOLAR FINANCING IS AVAILABLE TO ME?
When determining whether to go solar, consumers have a variety of financial alternatives. An installed solar system that was paid for outright can typically be installed for less money overall than one that was paid for out of a solar loan, lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA).
Solar loans can reduce the system’s upfront costs if you’d prefer to purchase your solar energy system. You will start saving money right away because monthly loan payments are typically lower than an average energy bill. Loans for solar energy work similarly to loans for home improvements, and some jurisdictions will provide subsidized loans for solar energy at interest rates below the market, further lowering the cost of solar. The Federal Housing Administration and Fannie Mae offer loans that enable borrowers to include financing for home renovations in the home’s purchase price, allowing new homeowners to include solar as part of their mortgage. If you buy a solar energy system, you may be eligible for the Solar Investment Tax Credit (also known as the ITC). Congress extended the ITC in December 2020; as a result, systems installed in 2020–2022 and systems built in 2023 are eligible for a 26% tax credit and 22% tax credit, respectively. Without Congressional renewal, the tax credit will end in 2024.
Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) enable consumers to host solar energy systems that are owned by solar companies and to buy the electricity produced back. Consumers enter into contracts that allow them to reduce their electricity expenses without having to make monthly loan payments. For solar energy, this frequently entails paying nothing upfront. Fixed monthly payments are a requirement of solar leases, and these payments are based on the anticipated electrical output of the installation. With a solar PPA, customers consent to buy the energy produced by the system at a predetermined cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. Although you don’t own the solar energy system with either of these options, you are not eligible for tax advantages.
The solar financing environment can be challenging to navigate. An overview of the benefits and drawbacks of each choice was published by the Clean Energy States Alliance to help householders understand their options.
WHAT STATE INCENTIVES AND TAX BREAK ARE THERE TO ASSIST ME IN GOING SOLAR?
To give those interested in home solar photovoltaics, or PV, a general understanding of the federal investment tax credit, DOE prepared the Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics. It does not represent expert tax counsel or any expert financial advice. Additionally, it shouldn’t be relied upon exclusively when making financial, tax, or other legally binding decisions or when signing other enforceable contracts.
The most complete information on subsidies and regulations in the US supporting renewable energy can be found at DSIRE. It was financed by the U.S. N.C. Department of Energy and is operated by. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University. DSIRE gives you a thorough list of financial incentives and governmental regulations that relate to your property by inputting your zip code. A knowledgeable local installer should also be able to help you submit claims for any state, municipal, and ITC incentives.
HOW WILL SOLAR AFFECT MY HOME’S RESALE VALUE?
Your home’s value will probably rise if you purchase a solar energy system. According to a recent research, homebuyers across the nation are ready to pay an additional premium of around $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array because solar panels are seen as upgrades, much like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement. There is evidence that solar-paneled homes sell more quickly than those without. Homes in California with solar power and energy-saving features sold more quickly than those with inefficient amenities in 2008. Remember that these studies only looked at solar panels owned by homeowners.
Data on third-party owned (TPO) systems reveals that while they do make real estate transactions more complicated, overall effects on sales price, time on market, agreement transfers, and client satisfaction are mostly unaffected. TPO systems occasionally even add value.
Both house buyers and sellers can benefit from using the PV Value tool. It determines the PV system’s energy output value, complies with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, and has the revenue approach method’s endorsement from the Appraisal Institute. Make sure your appraiser makes use of this tool to determine the worth of your PV system as precisely as possible.
CAN I GO SOLAR WITHOUT ALTERING MY HOME’S AESTHETICS?
Yes! BIPV, or building-integrated photovoltaics, enables homeowners to customize the look of their solar panels to blend in with the neighborhood. The SETO has supported projects that helped commercialize technology that allows homeowners to cover their solar panels in graphics to make them mix in with the roof.
I HAVE LISTEN TO SOLAR PLUS STORAGE A LOT. DO I NEED THAT AND WHAT IS IT?
Energy storage, most frequently in the form of batteries, is referred to as storage. No matter whether it’s sunny outside at the time, installing energy storage alongside a solar system can assist use the power generated when it’s required most. You can store that energy and utilize it later on, such as when you run the dishes after dinner or switch on the heat at night, or even when the power goes out. Find out more about the storage of solar energy and ask your solar installation whether they provide battery storage alternatives.
SOLAR: IS IT SAFE?
Absolutely! A certified installer places each solar panel in line with local construction, fire, and electrical regulations. They have all passed international inspection and testing standards. Additionally, a licensed electrician will thoroughly evaluate your solar energy system as part of the installation procedure.
WHAT ARE SOLAR’S ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS?
Carbon and other environmental pollutants are reduced when solar energy is used instead of more traditional energy sources. Our atmosphere becomes less polluted and has cleaner air and water as the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is reduced.
IF I THINK A SOLAR COMPANY IS MISREPRESENTING ITSELF OR ITS PRODUCTS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
No one should feel that their pursuit of clean energy is being exploited. You can report fraud, scams, and unethical business practices to the Federal Trade Commission at the federal level. Depending on where you live, different laws apply at the state level. To find out how they may assist, you can also get in touch with one of the consumer protection offices in your state or territory.