Category Archives: Solar Energy

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Once thought of as a gimmick or an unrealistic dream, today, solar energy is very much a reality for many homeowners who use it to power their homes and enjoy all the environmental and financial advantages it has to offer. In fact, the rate of installations of solar panels on homes across the US and UK continues to grow, as more homeowners are finding it increasingly important that their home is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. What makes solar panels all the more attractive is a real possibility of having dramatically reduced electricity bills, especially since electricity prices have been steadily climbing over the last few years.

If you are looking to make your own home more green, and save on electricity, installing solar panels and powering your home with clean renewable energy from the sun is the way to go. Switching to solar energy is a major step and a serious investment, so it is important for you to carefully weigh all the pros and cons before picking up the phone to call you local solar installer.

Advantages

Clean energy is good for our Earth

One of the top reasons homeowners choose to switch to solar power is that it is beneficial to our environment. Today, it is no secret that conventional electricity generation is a highly polluting process.

In the US, 50% of all electricity is generated by coal-powered plants, 20% comes from natural gas-powered plants and another 20% is generated by nuclear fission-powered plants. Toxic emissions from all these plants pollute our air and contribute to global warming. This process also continues to propagate our country’s dependance on foreign oil, while at the same time depleting valuable fossil fuel reserves.

By contrast, solar energy is not only clean and abundant, but also sustainable. The sun can provide us with electric power indefinitely, and without contributing to pollution and global climate change. It is truly empowering that an individual homeowner can make a positive impact on the environment by installing solar panels on his rooftop. EPA Research shows that by installing a 500 kW solar panel system, it is possible to prevent the emission of approximately 1,200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. This is equal to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 100 passenger cars.


Accessible in remote locations

If you home is located in a remote area that has no access to the electric grid, solar power is an ideal option. A solar panel array can be installed in any location (climate and roof conditions permitting) so that the home will have a supply of electric power. Many homeowners who are connected to the grid, often choose to go off the grid, and solely rely on solar power for the purpose of solely using a clean energy source.


Cost-effective

Because prices for conventional electricity continue to rise, it is actually cheaper to rely on solar energy. Depending on the size of your solar panel array, and your home’s electric needs it is possible to save 15-30% annually on your electric bill. While the initial savings will not be high, since you will be paying off the initial cost of the solar panels and instillation, once your equipment is paid off, you can actually make money by selling your excess electricity back to the electric companies. At the end of the day, your own electricity will be free and you will also be making extra cash!

Dependable equipment

You do not need to worry about your solar panels breaking, as they are proven to be highly reliable. High quality solar panels have 20-25 year warranties and will last at least 30-40 years. If you choose to lease solar panels instead of buying them, you solar provider will take care of any repairs or maintenance that need to be done in a timely fashion and typically free of charge.

Disadvantages

Initial premium cost

Historically and to this day, the biggest deterrent for homeowners who want to switch to solar power is high cost of solar panels and installation. Even with all the federal and state government incentives such as tax breaks and rebates that encourage homeowners to install solar panels, making the switch can cost thousands of dollars upfront. It is also important to know, that the ROI on your investment will be slow, ranging from 15-25 years.

If you are not able to afford purchasing a solar panel array for your home, there are other options available to you, such as a solar lease. Numerous companies such as CD Electrical based in Leicester UK, allow you to lease solar panels, which gives you access to clean energy, reduces your monthly electric bill, without the premium cost. It is important to read all the terms and conditions of solar lease contracts and explore offers from different providers to find the best deal.

Location and climate

For the solar panel array to produce energy at its maximum potential, there needs to be a lot of sun on a daily basis. Therefore, to take the most advantage of solar energy, you home needs to be located in a region that gets many sunny days, where as rainy and cloudy days will reduce the amount of energy your panels will produce. Contrary to popular misconceptions, solar panels still produce energy on cloudy days, just at a slower rate. Also, you need to make sure that your home is located in an areas where your roof and the solar panels will not be obstructed from the sun rays by trees or other buildings.

Therefore, you need to take your climate and location into account, and potentially invest into a solar battery that will store the excess solar energy, which you can then use whenever it is needed. Another option that many homeowners choose is to still remain connected to the grid, which means that if for some reason your solar panels cannot produce enough electricity to power your home on any given day, you will still have access to electricity generated from the grid.
Roof condition

For solar panels to work successfully, your roof must be able to accommodate them. A solar installer will come and evaluate the size, framing strenght, and orientation of your roof, to determine if it will be suitable for solar panels. Your solar installer will also help you navigate local building codes and community regulations to making the process smoother for you.

Solar Power for Homes: Homeowners Guide

We all know that the sun’s energy creates heat and light, but it can also be converted to make electricity, and lots of it. One technology that converts sunlight to electricity is called Photovoltaics or PV for short. You have probably seen PV panels around for years, but recent advancements have greatly improved their efficiency and electrical output. Enough energy from the sun hits the earth every hour to power our planet for an entire year.

How does Solar PV work?

Sunlight is made up of tiny packets of energy called photons. These photons radiate out from the sun, and about 93 million miles later, they collide with the semi-conductor on the solar panel here on earth. All of this happens at the speed of light. These panels are made up of several individual cells, each with a positive and a negative layer, which create an electric field. It works something like a battery. The photons strike the cell and their energy frees up some electrons in the semi-conductor material. The electrons create an electric current, which is harnessed to the wires connected to the positive and negative sides of the cell. The electricity that was created is multiplied by the number of cells in each panel and the number of panels in each solar array. Combined, a solar array can make a lot of electricity for your home or business. Notably, Solar PV is an incredibly reliable system, as PV cells were originally developed for use in space, where repair is extremely expensive, if not impossible. PV still powers nearly every satellite circling the earth because it operates reliably for long periods of time with virtually no maintenance.

Advantages of Solar PV

In recent years solar energy has also been an effective economic development driver. The U.S. solar PV market increased by 57 % in 2007, to 220 MW (Solarbuzz). In 2006, the cumulative installed PV power in the U.S. was 624 MW (IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme). The Energy Information Administration forecasts the long-term growth of PV in the U.S. to reach nearly 3,000 MW by 2030, not including off-grid installations. The PV industry generated over $17 billion in global revenues in 2007 and worldwide PV installations increased to 2,826 MW in 2007, up from 1,744 MW installed during 2006 (Solarbuzz). Global cumulative PV capacity in 2006 reached 6,634 MW (EPIA).

Solar PV technology continues to grow and advance because it offers major financial and environmental advantages. Solar PV technology produces clean energy, it has no emissions, no moving parts, it does not make any noise, it is visually unobtrusive, and it does not even need water or fossil fuels to produce power. Moreover, solar energy is a locally available renewable resource. It does not need to be imported from other regions of the country, or across the world. This reduces environmental impacts associated with transportation and also decreases US dependence on imported oil. Unlike with other fuels that need to be mined or harvested, using solar energy to produce electricity does not deplete or alter the original resource.

Consider these statistics: installing a typical 10Kw Solar PV system is the same as:

1. Planting more than one acre of trees per year.
2. Driving a car 10,000 miles less per year.
3. Burning 50 barrels of oil less per year.
4. Emitting 5 tons of Carbon Dioxide less per year.
5. Emitting 40 tons of Sulfur Dioxide less per year.

The beauty is that a Solar PV system it can be located right where the power is needed, in the middle of nowhere, or it can be tied into the power grid. Moreover, a solar PV system can be constructed to any size based on energy requirements. The owner of a solar PV system can enlarge or move it in case his energy needs change. It is possible for homeowners to add modules every few years in the event their energy usage and financial resources grow.

Government support for Solar PV

One major drawback particularly to consumers is that currently Solar energy is more expensive to produce than conventional sources of energy due to the cost of manufacturing PV devices, as well as because of the conversion efficiencies of the equipment. However, as the conversion efficiencies continue to increase and the manufacturing costs continue go down, solar PV will become increasingly cost competitive with conventional fuels. As a way to help offset those upfront costs for consumers interested in installing solar PV systems, many states are providing incentives to residential, industrial and commercial customers of PV through tax credits, grants, loans, rebates, and exemption from local property taxes. Other industry support mechanisms, such as installer training and certification programs are also available. Overall solar PV technology is growing fast and it can play a big role in America’s clean energy economy anywhere the sun shines.

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