Buying and installing solar panels for homes is a trend taking Arizona and other states by storm. Not only does solar energy help minimize your carbon print, but it can also potentially save your household a lot of money on electricity bills. But do solar panels for homes really pay off? How do solar panels for homes last?
Here is everything you need to know about solar panels for homes.
Will a solar-powered home pay off?
Property owners who install solar panels receive numerous benefits: lower carbon footprints, increase in property value, and lower electric bills. However, these benefits come with installation expenses, and the magnitude of solar power-related gains varies widely from a region to another. So, do solar-powered homes really pay off?
Photovoltaic (PV) solar power
PV solar tech has been around since the early 1950s, but thanks to the falling solar module costs, it has been considered a financially viable solution for widespread implementation since the turn of the millennium. Currently, most homeowners are turning to solar energy as a cost-effective source of electricity.
A complete solar power system for a home is capital intensive, and the larger fraction of this cost comes upfront when purchasing the necessary pieces of equipment. The photovoltaic panels certainly represent the largest component of the overall costs. Other pieces of equipment necessary for proper installation include metering equipment, inverter, cables, and more.
Some property owners also consider battery storage. Keep in mind that high-quality batteries are prohibitively expensive and sometimes unnecessary, particularly if the utility pays you for excess electricity fed into the grid system. You must also factor in the solar panel installation costs.
How much will your solar power system save you?
The value of your solar power system’s electricity depends on how much you often pay for your utility for electricity and how much money your utility will pay you for the excess electricity you feed to the grid. Some Arizona utilities provide net billing, while others offer time-of-use (TOU) and TOU with demand rates.
The time of use rate will help you determine the maximum solar energy savings if your peak window is during power production hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and your home’s electricity usage is also during that period. For on-peak summer usage, TOU rates often range from 11 to 18 cents per kWh. So, it’s recommended to check TOU rates from different utility providers such as Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, and Tucson Electricity Company.
If you’re not using the electric energy produced, you will get a buy-back rate of 1 to 3 cents per kWh. The value of electric energy from your home’s solar system you don’t use is only valued at the buy-back rate. Therefore, it is recommended that you acquire a solar power system that generates the amount of electricity your household needs.
Experts warn that your solar panel system’s actual energy production will vary up to 20% of the indicated value. The output of your solar system depends on many factors, including your geographical location, the quality of the components of your solar system, the orientation of the system, and how it was installed. If you intend to buy and install solar panels for your home, it’s important to discuss these factors with the installer and determine exactly how much the system will save you.
Are there other benefits of solar panels for homes?
In addition to saving money on your monthly energy bills, there are other benefits of installing photovoltaic panels in your residential property. These include.
Environmentally friendly source of electric energy
Most property owners choose solar panels for homes as an environmentally-friendly alternative to coal and other traditional sources of power. The production process, delivery, and installation of solar power systems generally produce fewer emissions compared to running your home on the grid over a long period.
Solar panels for homes are one of the few sources of clean energy readily available to homeowners. It is also an ideal option for people who wish to minimize their carbon footprint.
Reliable personal source of power
Probably you have experienced a blackout due to a storm, maintenance by the utility provider, or natural disaster. Wouldn’t it be cool not to have to rely on a utility company to keep your electrical devices powered?
A properly installed solar power system allows you to enjoy independence from a utility company. Your level of off-grid independence depends on how your solar power system is set up. A system that includes a high-quality battery backup allows you to keep excess solar power collected from your panels. Your backup can power your home even when there is a blackout. If you do not want battery backup, you can sell the excess solar energy to the grid.
Potential tax savings, rebates, and incentives
You have a chance to save money on your solar energy system through incentives and rebates. Most local governments and state governments offer tax savings for property owners who choose to acquire solar panel systems. It is also possible to save money through most federal government programs or federal tax credits that encourage property owners to switch to solar energy.
Even if you do not qualify for these programs, most solar companies offer specials and incentives to help minimize the initial cost of solar panels and other necessary pieces of equipment. Be sure to shop around for various service providers to get the best price for solar panels for homes.
Increase your home value
Do you plan to sell your property in the future? Installing solar panels for homes could help you generate interest from potential home buyers and increase the overall value of the property.
High-quality solar panels for homes are a reliable source of affordable electricity. Potential property buyers enjoy the idea of a house that is eco-friendly and probably self-reliant. This is why most buyers are willing to pay a higher price for properties with solar panels compared to those without.
How long do solar panels last?
The average solar panel lifespan ranges from 25 years to 30 years. In a 2012 study, researchers concluded that solar panels degrade in energy output by approximately 0.8% annually. With the current advancements in technology, solar panel manufacturers and users are optimistic about the durability of these products. This is because most solar panels are outperforming their warranties. For instance, the world’s first solar panel is still functional after six decades.
Despite this optimism, you still need to be careful when choosing solar panels for homes. Many manufacturers offer a warranty of 20 years to 25 years, but not every brand offers equally reliable products. Solar power system’s durability is still a concern for many homeowners because the panels will be exposed to harsh weather elements constantly.
Just think about the hot, summer months. As your roof heats up, the metallic parts of the solar panel expand. As it cools down later in the evening, these metallic parts will contract. This constant fluctuation weakens them over time, especially in Arizona’s blistering days and extremely cold desert nights.
Generally, the lifespan of solar panels depends on product quality and other factors.
How do I make my solar panels last longer?
What Clear Sky Solar understands above all else is that your solar panel is as good as its cells. Once your solar panel system is installed, it will require little to no maintenance. However, there are things you can do to ensure it stays efficient for a long time.
Keep your solar panels clean.
Well, solar panels for homes work so well that most property owners hardly notice that they are on the roof. And that is the problem. Though the system is quiet (except for the inverter) and operates without you needing to touch them, they need to stay clean. If you get an electricity bill at the end of the year, it might be your fault. The cleaner the panel’s glass, the more unobstructed surface the sunshine has to “work with.”
So, how often should solar panels be cleaned?
That depends on your geographical location. If you live in a windy desert or area with a lot of construction activities, you will need to clean your solar panels frequently. It’s essential to keep an eye on your solar panels and clean them whenever necessary.
Clean them safely
First, never use an abrasive cleaning sponge or soap. The goal is to keep the glass as clear and clean as possible. So, you don’t want to scratch that delicate glass. It is recommended to contact a professional who can handle solar installations and cleaning, particularly if you must get on the roof to clean your solar panels.
Keep the solar panels out of the shade.
Make sure there are no shade issues that were not there when you installed the system. Even if you don’t want to cut the nearby trees, just trim them back. Keep in mind that shade on a solar panels works exponentially, not proportionally, to lower the system’s output. So, if 25% of the solar panel is shaded, you are not losing 25% of the total power output, there is a good chance you are losing 50% or more.
Monitor your system
Sometimes, you don’t need to do anything but monitor your system. Keep an on your inverter display. Is the green light on? If so, that’s good news. Is it flashing? If so, probably not good news.
Technically, you don’t need to check your inverter every day. But if there is a problem and that green light goes out, the longer it stays that way, the more money you will be losing. Why? Because your solar system is no longer covering your household’s electricity needs.
Now you know…
Many people are turning to solar panels for homes. And your household could benefit from such as system too. Now that you know the benefits of solar panels, how long they last, and how you can keep them functional, it’s time to install them in your home.