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Everything You Need To Know About Adding Solar Panels At Home
Christine Tusher, Houzz Contributor
Solar-powered homes were a rarity as recently as a decade ago. But a plethora of federal and local tax incentives along with increasing worries about climate change have made them commonplace.
Installing solar panels can decrease your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. You’d have to plant 88 trees every year to offset that amount of carbon dioxide!
But between a tangle of technospeak (photovoltawhata?) and an explosion of installers and financing plans, it can be difficult to figure out where to get started. This introduction should help.
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Top 10 Solar Energy Myths
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1. Solar panels do not work in cold, cloudy places/states. UV light is all that’s needed and even the cloudiest of places have excelled. Germany, who ranks low in sunny days, is the solar energy capital of the world. In fact, when the solar panels are cold, they are able to better conduct electricity.
2. Solar systems are too expensive. Solar Energy Installations are more affordable than they have ever been. In every state, incentives cover a minimum of 30% all the way up to 85% of the system costs. The cost per watt, installed, is at an all time low of $8.
3. Solar panels require constant maintenance. The panels rarely require maintenance or cleaning, plus the average warranty lasts 25 years!
4. Solar systems are ugly, large and bulky. Solar panels have come a long way over the years. Now systems have become virtually seamless with solar shingles. Solar cells can be combined with slate, metal, fiber-cement, and asphalt roofing.
5. Few states offer rebates or financial incentives for solar energy installations. According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, 48 states have a solar/renewable energy incentive on top of the 30% federal tax credit!
6. Solar Panel Harsh ClimatesThe solar panels cannot withstand harsh climates (snow, hail, winds, sleet). The University of Vermont (who receives considerable snow fall) has a system that has proven to be effective and virtually maintenance free, even during the winter months. The color of the solar panels is dark which aides in melting the snow plus a South facing position allows for a quickened process.
7. Solar systems are unreliable and inconsistent. On the contrary, solar electric systems can be more reliable than the utility company. They have no moving parts and off-grid systems are not subject to power outages. In fact, solar technologies are used to power many vital systems: aircraft warning lights, railroad crossing signals, navigational buoys, etc.
8. Solar Panel Southern Facing ExposureI cannot use solar energy because I don’t have Southern roof exposure. East/West roof exposure is also effective for photovoltaic systems. Another option is a ground mounted system in which case all you need is a relatively flat, unshaded area.
9. Solar energy is inefficient. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panel efficiency has more than quadrupled since the 1970’s. With an average between 15-19% it sits in the same efficiency range as the gas in your car. Unlike gas though, the technology continues to advance, in turn, so will efficiency.
10. I won’t live in the home long enough to make my investment back. Actually, a solar system increases the value of the home. For every $1,000 that has been saved in annual electric costs, your home’s value rises $20,000. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
Can I Really Save Money by Putting Solar Panels on My Roof?
posted in Green Living
Published on August 21, 2012 | Updated on August 8, 2013
Saving money solar panels
Two factors are making solar panel installation a better deal for homeowners than it was in the past—the federal and state tax incentives, and the rising cost of electricity from traditional sources.
According to a study from the Edison Electric Institute, electricity prices went up 2.5% annually from 2000 to 2006, (which means they beat inflation, which was calculated to be increasing 1.99% annually in that period) and are following a steady upward trend. That rising cost is being driven in part by the rising cost of fuels, such as coal and natural gas.
Chart shows the rising costs of fossil fuels, which is reflected as a rising electricity cost to the consumer. Source: Edison Electric Institute, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
As those lines continue to go up, so will your electricity bill. That means making an investment in solar panels likely to pay for itself in a shorter period of time.
On top of that, there are the tax credits. In an effort to encourage homeowners to go green, the U.S. government has offered significant tax credits for installing solar panels as an alternate energy source. While a tax break that allowed renewable energy companies to recoup 30% of a new project back as a cash grant after construction expired this year, a residential federal tax credit of 30% will remain in place until December 31st of 2016.
Additional credits vary state by state, but if you live in a sunny state with a high solar rating—a measurement of the average solar energy available for your home—such as Arizona, California, or New Mexico, you may find additional incentives like cash back, waived fees, and expedited permits. You can look up the available credits in your state here.
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Solar panel maintenance requirements
July 01, 2014 by SolarGaines
As you consider the benefits of installing solar panels, maintenance is likely one of your key concerns. After all, the ongoing costs of properly caring for this equipment could diminish your return on your solar investment. Surprisingly, however, these systems require very little maintenance if any at all. On the contrary, much of the information circulated about solar panel cost of maintenance is overstated. As a matter of fact, the care required after your system is installed is actually one of the easiest parts of ownership.
Much of a solar array functions a lot like the electrical wiring in your home. These systems do not have moving parts, they are simply used for carrying current. Absent of movable components, there is only a very small likelihood of mechanical failure.
As for ongoing maintenance, the requirements are nominal. While the homeowner can use a standard garden hose to gently rinse off debris such as pollen on a yearly basis, this is not a required step. A properly installed, fully functional solar array will continue producing efficiently, without the need for regular maintenance from either the homeowners or the installers. But keep in mind, if you live in an area with a high amount of dust or pollen, the deposits could block some sunlight and reduce some of the efficiency of your system.
And remember that with a good hard rain, Mother Nature can often do the job for you.
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