It’s undeniable: Solar energy is hot. Solar installations are becoming a familiar sight around the United States, as an increasing number of consumers are deciding to make a great investment and switch to solar-powered systems. As popular as solar power has become, however, it still isn’t well-understood by many people. If you’re looking into getting your own solar installation, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about solar energy.
How do solar panels work?
Solar installations work in a very simple way. When the sun’s rays hit the panel, the photons in sunlight are converted into direct current by the photovoltaic (PV) cells. Then, the direct current is sent to a power inverter where it is changed into a household 240-volt alternating current. At that point, the energy is available to provide you with power in your building.
How do photovoltaic cells work?
When light hits a cell, it knocks loose electrons in the crystalline silicon inside the cell, creating an electric current. The current is picked up by metal contacts and sent out of the panel through wires. While a cell can generate only a small amount of energy, each solar panel typically contains 60-72 photovoltaic cells working together, which produces a good voltage and current to convert into household power at the inverter.
How much does it cost to switch to solar?
The cost of your solar installation will depend on a number of factors, including your location and how large you want your installation to be. Before purchasing solar panels, check to see if there are any special incentives or tax rebates available for you in your area. Chances are, these could lower the initial investment required for your solar installation. There is currently a 30% federal tax credit and many states also have additional tax credits. For example, a large $30,000 system would qualify for a $9000 tax credit. This would return the net investment in under 10 years in most cases.
How long does it take to install a solar system?
The size and difficulty of the installation varies widely. Most roof mounted residential systems take 1-3 days of labor, a day for city/county inspection, and usually 1-2 weeks for the utility company to set the solar meters and turn the system on.
Will solar panels be affected by the weather?
Today’s solar panels are designed to be very strong and durable, so they should not be affected by wind, extreme temperatures, heavy rains, or even hail. Solar panels can be damaged by snow and ice, but these aren’t generally an issue in Southern Arizona.
Will I still have to pay for electricity?
Unless you have gone completely off the grid, you will still receive an electric bill from your utility company. The good news is that having a solar installation can reduce the extent to which you will have to rely on your utility company for electricity. This means that you will see lower energy bills every month.
Do solar panels only work when it’s sunny outside?
Solar panels do work when it’s cloudy outside, although they will not be as productive as usual because they aren’t getting as much sunlight. In addition, solar panels only generate energy during daylight hours, so they won’t work between dusk and dawn. Most systems are grid-tied, which means that they do not act as a backup system if the grid is down, though systems with battery backup are becoming more affordable for customers who have frequent outages or have necessary devices like an oxygen machine, for example.
Do solar panels need to be cleaned?
As a rule, solar installations do not require much maintenance. If a panel has become covered with dust or debris, it typically only causes a slight decrease in performance. But, it can be cleaned in the next rain storm. While keeping panels clean on your own time may produce a few extra dollars of energy, it usually will not be enough to pay someone else to clean them.
How often should a solar panel be replaced?
Unless a solar panel has been severely damaged, it should not need to be replaced for a long time. Modern solar panels are made to endure, so they can continue to serve you well for decades to come. The standard power production warranty for solar panels is 25 years, and a 30-40 year lifespan is expected. Most systems are monitored online, so any issues should be apparent and able to be repaired or replaced.
Is solar power good for the environment?
Solar energy has a number of positive effects for the planet. Because it doesn’t obtain energy from burning fossil fuels and produces no emissions, solar power does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. If you are looking to reduce your building’s impact on the environment, going solar is a great first step to take. The energy it takes to make a panel is usually offset within the first year of that panels operation.
How can I tell if my roof is suitable for a solar installation?
South-facing roofs are best-suited for solar installations, though the current low cost of panels makes them cost effective for east, west, and north facing. Your roof should also be in good condition. It should be made of a strong material such as asphalt, flat built-up roofing, metal, or concrete tile. Make sure to perform any necessary roof maintenance or repairs before you have a solar system installed. If you’re not sure whether your roof is suitable for solar, ask your solar contractor.
Custom Solar and Leisure is a full-service solar contractor that has been serving Tucson and the surrounding area since 2007. We are dedicated to providing all of our customers with the great products and first-class service that they deserve, whether they are looking to install solar panels, replace their current water heater with a solar heater, or start heating their pool using the sun’s rays. If you would like to learn more about how you can save money with one of our solar installations, call us today at (520) 314-3768.