Types of solar power systems: required equipment, price, benefits, and drawbacks

More and more home owners across the world are choosing to install residential solar power systems. Their goal is to lessen their carbon footprint while lowering long-term energy expenditures.

A record amount of residential solar capacity was installed in Q3 2021, according to an SEIA research, and growth is anticipated to continue in the years to come. This quick progress is mostly attributable to the most recent solar power technologies’ increased efficiency and decreased cost.

What different solar panel systems are there, then? What tools are required for an effective solar energy system at home? Are solar panels self-installable? When will the business break even? Let’s get started in order to learn the answers to these and other questions.

What is a solar panel system?

Solar panel systems that are put on roofs capture and transform the sun’s energy-dense photons into useful energy. PV, or photovoltaic, solar power systems are a common abbreviation for solar panel systems.

The utility power grid, which provides electricity to light, heat, cool, and operate your home, can be reduced or eliminated with the installation of a high-quality solar power system at your residence.

Residential solar power system installations produce a clean, renewable energy source that needs no upkeep and offers savings that can quickly recoup the initial cost!

Once you’ve paid off your solar system, you’ll have access to free electricity for many years.

What are the types of solar power systems?

There are three main types of solar power systems: 

  • Grid-tied systems: The most common kind of solar system; when the solar panels aren’t providing enough energy to power the house, the utility’s electricity can be used instead.
  • Hybrid systems: Also known as “solar-plus-storage systems,” these include solar panels and solar batteries that are used to store energy for use by the home later or in the event of a power outage. The home is also wired into the grid.
  • Off-grid systems: There is no connection to the grid and the home runs entirely off of energy generated and stored on-site

How much will a solar power system cost?

Before taking into account any rebates or incentives, the majority of professionally installed solar panel systems cost between $18,000 and $20,000 in total.

You can increase the cost of your system by at least $10,000 if you want to include a battery. Since you will need additional solar panels and storage to meet your energy needs, off-grid systems can potentially be more expensive.

You should keep in mind that the price of a solar panel system varies based on the size you require, where you reside, the equipment you select, and the installation you hire. There are further incentives to consider, such as the sizable 30% solar tax credit provided by the IRS.

What is the best solar power system for home?

Depending on what you want from the system, you can choose the best solar power system for your home.

A grid-tied solar system is probably best for you if all you’re looking for is a way to lower your electricity costs while also providing your home with green energy. In particular, grid-tied systems are fantastic if your utility supports full-retail net metering.

Homeowners who reside in locations with access to the grid but nevertheless endure regular power outages are better suited for hybrid solar power systems. Solar batteries won’t typically result in any further cost savings, so you’re really paying for the security of having a battery backup bank in case the grid goes down. For homeowners who wish to use as much clean energy as possible to power their homes, hybrid systems are also preferred.

For households that don’t have access to the grid, off-grid systems are best. Off-grid solar systems enable you to have the electricity that you otherwise might not have, whether you live in a rural farm or a log home in the woods. Going off the grid, however, necessitates some significant lifestyle adjustments because you must pay close attention to your energy usage.

What are the main components of a solar panel system?

diagram of a home solar power system

Finding the ideal system for you requires first understanding what goes into a solar power system. A grid-connected residential solar power system consists of the following parts:

  • Solar panels
  • Solar inverter
  • Solar racking
  • Net meter
  • Solar performance monitoring

Off-grid and hybrid solar system designs will need extra hardware. In addition to the tools mentioned above, they will additionally use:

  • Solar battery storage
  • Charge controller

Solar panels

The main components of a solar power system are the solar panels themselves because these are what generate the electricity! No of the kind, solar systems will all feature solar panels. Solar panels are constructed from silicon solar cells that are connected electrically to form solar modules.

LG, LONGi Solar, SunPower, and Jinko Solar are a few well-known manufacturers of solar panels. SolarReviews compiles a thorough, objective list of the top solar panel manufacturers from across the world, analyzing details like price, efficiency, and warranty.

Although monocrystalline solar panels are the most common type installed nowadays, some homeowners still choose for polycrystalline panels in order to save a little money.

Solar inverter

The devices known as inverters transform the direct current (DC) generated by solar panels into the alternating current (AC) used by dwellings.

There are three types of inverters:

  1. String or centralized inverters: Although they can be ineffective, they are the least expensive. This is due to the possibility of production loss if the roof is shaded.
  2. Microinverters: These more expensive inverters are connected to each solar panel and enable efficient functioning even when some panels are in the shade.
  3. Power optimizers: Installed in each panel, they maximize each PV module’s DC output, which is then sent to a string inverter for AC power conversion. They are slightly more expensive than string inverters but less expensive than microinverters.

Solar racking

The roof is not directly supported by the solar panels. The best amount of solar exposure is achieved by angling the roof-mounted racking systems on which the panels are mounted.

Net meter

If your utility provides net metering, a net meter is an essential part of solar systems that are connected to the grid.

Any excess solar electricity that you generate that you don’t consume (or store in your battery) is delivered to the grid if your utility provider supports net metering and you have grid-connected solar, with or without a battery. Your utility will reimburse you for the electricity you send when you use net metering, which brings down your electricity bill.

A specific electric meter called a “net meter” is needed to keep track of how much electricity your solar panels generate in comparison to how much electricity you use from the utility.

Off-grid solar systems are not required to have a net meter because they are not connected to the utility.

Solar performance monitoring

A monitoring system will show you how much electricity is produced per hour, per day, or per year, allowing you to confirm the effectiveness of your PV system. The technology is also capable of detecting prospective performance changes.

Solar battery storage

To store solar energy for later use or if you wish to use it overnight, solar batteries can be added to your solar system. A PV system can also run without the help of the electric grid thanks to storage batteries. Your solar panels must be used in conjunction with a solar battery if you want them to function in the event of a power loss.

Both off-grid and hybrid solar systems incorporate solar energy storage. Off-grid systems, on the other hand, need larger batteries because they can’t rely on the grid like hybrid systems can.

Charge controller

Only solar power systems with battery storage need charge controllers. Without batteries, grid-tied systems do not need charge controllers.

To avoid overcharging the batteries and to guarantee that they receive the proper voltage level of charge, charge controllers are connected between the solar panels and the battery. A charge controller is necessary to ensure the safety and longevity of your battery system since overcharged batteries can catch fire.

Can you install a solar power system yourself?

If you want to save money on installation charges, you can install solar panels yourself. For all of their energy needs, many DIYers use solar panel systems, which can range in price from $7,000 to $15,000.

While DIY solar systems may initially save you some money, they will take a lot of time to complete and can be risky. Additionally, you will be responsible for overseeing inspections and permits on your own, which might be challenging.

You might even be prohibited by some utilities from connecting do-it-yourself solar projects to the grid, and you might have some equipment warranties voided.

You can install a solar power system yourself, to put it briefly, but we don’t advise it.

Who should I use to install my solar system for home?

The quality of the equipment may not be as important to future performance and return on your investment as proper installation. It is crucial to have extensive training and a thorough comprehension of each component.

In each region, several of the top manufacturers have teamed up with certified solar installers. Prior to certification, these businesses offer on-site training and professional installation verification.

Use the solar calculator below to get the data you need to decide if a solar panel system is an affordable and desirable investment for you.

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