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Our Guide to Solar

US Going Solar

Are you considering going solar?

Since the year 2008, thousands of solar panels have popped up across the United States as Americans are choosing to harness the power of the sun in order to run their households.With a special thanks to the Solar Energy Technologies Office’s investments, the cost of going solar has declined significantly, and continues to do so.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solar solution, here are some resources to help you decide if going solar is right for you.

Let’s get started!

What is Solar Energy?

According to the Online Dictionary, Solar Energy (noun) is radiant energy emitted by the sun.

In other words, solar power is the energy produced from the sun, then converted into electrical energy or thermal energy.

Solar power is the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source available. And, in the U.S., solar resources are among some of the richest available in the world. This energy can be harnessed by solar technologies, and be used for a variety of things, including providing light, generating electricity, heating water and more. Solar energy can be used to power domestic, commercial or industrial buildings.

How does Solar Power work?

Going solar panels

The sun is a natural nuclear reactor that releases small packets of energy, known as photons. Photons travel from the sun to earth (93 million miles) in under nine minutes. Each hour, these photons generate enough solar energy to, theoretically, satisfy all global energy needs for an entire year.

This is when solar panels come into play. When the photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to both the positive and negative sides of a cell, it will form an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they naturally generate electricity.

Multiple cells make up a solar panel, and multiple solar panels (or modules) can be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels you can deploy, the more energy you can expect to generate.

What are Solar Panels Made Of?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are made up of many small solar cells. These solar pv cells are usually made up of silicon, like semiconductors. Due to the fact that solar panels are constructed with a positive layer and a negative layer, together they create an electric field, just like a battery does.

How do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

PV solar panels work by generating direct current (DC) electricity. DC electricity works by the flow of electrons in the same direction around a circuit. These electrons move from negative to positive, generating a current of electricity.

AC (altering current) electricity works by pushing and pulling electrons, periodically reversing their direction, similar to the cylinder in a car’s engine.

The U.S. electrical power grid chose to use AC electricity, primarily due to the fact that it is less costly to transmit over long distances. That said, solar panels generate DC electricity. So, how exactly do we get DC electricity into an AC based grid? By using a specialized inverter.

A solar inverter has the ability to take DC electricity from a solar array and convert it into AC electricity. Think of the inverter as the “brains of the operation”. Without this technology, we would not be able to take advantage of the power of the sun for electricity.

Solar Energy vs. Fossil Fuels: Why Switch to Solar?

More than 80 percent of America relies on natural gas, petroleum and coal together as a main source of energy. So, why is everyone switching to solar power?

Solar vs fossil fuels

Although fossil fuels provide powerful and reliable energy, they are a limited resource and will eventually run out. For example, the gasoline you burned driving in to work today took millions of years to harvest, but you used it up in just a few minutes. Once you’ve burned a gallon of gas, there’s one less gallon to go around. In addition, all three forms of fossil fuel must be mined or extracted from under the ground – proving to be a dangerous task, an expensive, too.

On the other hand, solar energy is a renewable resource (for the next four to five billion years, at least). For example, if you collect 1,500 watt-hours on a Monday, you would not be reducing the amount of solar energy you can collect on Tuesday.

Regardless of how much coal, natural gas and petroleum you believe remains buried in the earth, those fossil fuels will run out far earlier (and faster) than the life of the sun. The energy usage potential of the sun is nearly unlimited.

Environmental Impacts of Solar Energy

When it comes to environmental impact, solar power is a much more optimal resource than fossil fuels. There is some environmental impact in the manufacture of solar energy. There are a few toxic compounds used in their fabrication, and large solar farms may disrupt the habitat of their locales. However, the net environmental impact of solar power systems is quite small, making solar power a source of very clean energy compared to fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels, while they are consistently reliable, cause significant damage to the environment during their collection and transport. But even more concerning, fossil fuel combustion generates a large amount of environmental toxins. As if that weren’t enough, these fuels also produce massive volumes of carbon dioxide, a gas which plays a big influence in global climate change.

Solar Energy Equipment Required to Go Solar

If you’re considering going solar, you’ve probably looked into what equipment is necessary to get started.

Here is a list of equipment you’ll need to have a solar powered home:

Solar Panels

Solar panels are (obviously) necessary in order to produce solar power. Some things to consider when you’re shopping for solar panels include efficiency, warranty and cost. In addition, you’ll want to look into the technology type of your solar panels. In general, these panels are categorized as one of two technology types: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Although both types have the same function and are made from silicon cells, the outward appearance and cost differ significantly.

Monocrystalline panels are more energy efficient, but also more expensive. These types of panels come in a dark blue or black tint.

Polycrystalline panels are cheaper, but considered to be the less effective option. The polycrystalline panels come in a lighter blue hue.

Inverter

As previously mentioned, an inverter is the piece of equipment which converts DC electricity (produced from the sun) into AC electricity (the type of electricity the U.S. electric grid uses). There are several different kinds of inverter options to choose from, they are as follows:

String inverters: Often referred to as a centralized inverter, a string inverter is a single string technology which connects your solar array to the electrical panel of your home. This is the least expensive option.

Micro-inverters: Micro-inverters are attached individually to each and every solar panel, resulting in a maximized production for your array. This option is great for people who rely heavily on electricity in their day to day lives. For example, if one of your solar panels is covered by shade from a tree, the other panels can still generate power for your home, since every panel is attached individually.

Power optimizers: Now that you have an explanation of both string inverters and micro-inverters, you can think of a power optimizer as a hybrid of the two.

Solar Panel Racking

You may be surprised to hear that converting to a “solar roof” does not mean that solar panels actually become part of your roof. Rather, the PV panels are mounted onto “racking” equipment. Racking allows your solar installer to angle the panels for maximum performance without creating any extra damage.

Performance Monitoring & Tracking Systems

Anyone who’s gone solar, will say that one of the best feelings is being able to watch your electric bills diminish over time. A high performance monitoring system is key if you want to be able to track the hourly electricity production of your solar system.

Storage Option (battery or grid connection)

A major disadvantage to having a solar powered home, is that, as the sun goes down each day, your electricity will go down with it. Having a solar battery allows for energy to be saved throughout the day, to be used at night when the sun is no longer shining.

Solar Energy Systems: Which is Right for Me?

Solar equipment

There are several different ways you can harness solar energy, including: solar heating and cooling, photovoltaics, concentrating solar power and passive solar.

The first three of those listed are considered to be active solar systems.

Active Solar System

Active solar systems use mechanical or electrical devices to convert the sun’s heat or light, into another form of usable energy.

Passive Solar Buildings

Passive solar buildings were created and designed to collect, store and distribute the heat energy from sunlight, in order to maintain the comfort of the occupants inside, without the use of moving electronics or parts.

Cost of Solar Power: Savings, Costs & Incentives

The ROI (Return On a Solar Investment)

When calculating the ROI of going solar, there are several factors that play a part in your return on investment. These factors include which plot is available for infrastructure, the location you live in, and the amount of solar radiation per year you’ll be using. For example, if you live in a location that is large enough to accommodate polycrystalline panels, that type of infrastructure would produce the same output as monocrystalline panels would, at a savings of 10 to 25%.

As far as long term investments are concerned, the value of a solar installation will largely depend on how it is financed. When you buy the system upfront, you’ll yield the best ROI. However, even a $0-down payment solar loan would provide a savings of around $10,000 or more.

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) or solar leases through community solar programs offer significantly lower savings – somewhere between 10 and 30% of the average home’s electric bill.

All that said, a solar panel system pays for itself within 8 years (on average). So, if you purchased mono or poly solar panels with a 25-year life span, you could easily yield 17 years of cost savings on electric expenses.

Solar Incentives & Rebates

Since solar incentives and rebates have been introduced, many households have had the opportunity to take advantage of solar energy. For example, the ITC (Solar Investment Tax Credit) allows homeowners to receive a 30% investment tax credit for the purchase and installation of solar panels through the year 2019.

Maintaining Solar Panels Year Round

Even though maintaining solar panels is usually something that involves minimal fuss, you’ll benefit from knowing what you can do to properly maintain a functional home solar system.

By understanding the solar panel monitoring methods and other maintenance tips, you will be able to keep your solar panels in tip-top shape, regardless of whether you use a walk on solar panel system or another type to fulfill your needs.

The Best Year-Round Care

One of the benefits of this year round power source is that it requires little maintenance in comparison to many other power sources. It’s rare for the panels to fail, with most problems originating in the electrical system.

Round solar panels and other solar panels all depend on direct access to sunlight.

Some of the things that can cause obstruction include:

Shrubs and other vegetation

Snow

If you get a lot of snow or dust in your area, the issue of do solar panels need maintenance will be answered when you need to clear the panels off.

One thing you can feel confident about is that your wiring should last for the system’s life. The maintenance of solar panels cost is worth it to have everything installed correctly. They know how to wire your system precisely to avoid damage and can work around a solar powered sprinkler or similar parts without issues.

All kinds of solar panels, including round solar panels, feature updated monitoring systems. When you tried to find out the answer to do solar panels need cleaning, you were probably delighted to learn that web and app-based monitoring plays a leading role in maintenance. A technician is your best source of help for any electrical issues.

Spring Care for Solar Panels

Spring is a perfect time for an annual inspection, regardless of your solar panel monitoring methods. You’ll be able to catch any problems that could disrupt good year round power.

Solar ABCs recommends checking these elements yearly:

Corrosion/erosion issues

Missing bolts/hardware

Broken glass, discoloration, and burn marks

A worn or cracked inverter

Pest infestation signs

Exposed or loose wiring

Issues with wiring that touches the roof

Electrical enclosure corrosion

All bushings, supports, and expansion joints

Vegetation

Roof drainage and water damage issues

Caring for Your Panels During Summer

The maintenance of solar panels cost pays for itself with the usage you’ll get during the summer months. As to the question of do solar panels need cleaning – rain takes care of most cleaning needs.

However, even with solar panels you can walk on, you might need to clean off:

Tree pollen

Animal droppings

Grime

Dust

Solar panel cleaning costs can be minimal if you rinse them off with a hose or use a solar powered sprinkler. However, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have hard water, which might calcify. For optimal safety, make sure you can spray the panels without having to go up a ladder.

Many solar panel technicians recommend roof-mounted sprinklers in areas with a lot of pollen or dust. The answer to do I need to clean my solar panels is yes, but it’s easiest to do with a properly-installed sprinkler system.

Your Fall Cleanup Routine

Every type of solar panel, from a walk on solar panel to other varieties, will work well in the fall if loose leaves and debris do not become a problem. Leaves could be an issue off and on all autumn. Many areas tend to see a lot of wind during the fall that brings in debris.

Leaf removal is one of the more manageable tasks, often compared to gutter cleaning. Always check your warranty terms before attempting this job yourself. Solar professionals can reliably take care of this task as well.

Winter Ice & Snow Clearing

If your solar panels have a 15-degree tilt, the snow and ice are likely to melt.

If you lack a solar panel snow guard, clearing the snow off with a snow rake or even a long broom may help. The warranty for your system will give you further guidance on whether to do this yourself.

A solar system maintenance professional may prove helpful for removing ice. You’ll need to be careful what’s used, making the help of a pro all the more critical. Keeping ice from building up will help prevent structural damage, and a solar panel snow guard is also helpful.

In most cases, maintaining solar panels is worry-free. The quality of glass used can stand up against most weather events. Solar panel technicians should get involved in the event of a crack to prevent further damage.

Keeping It Safe

Although it is known that the answer to “do solar panels need maintenance” is yes, this is a task that homeowners should never undertake themselves.

Industry standards favor these jobs being handled by technicians in pairs. There is always a risk with electricity, making the need for technicians with proper training all the more critical.

Although you can perform cleaning yourself, especially with solar panels you can walk on, it is safer to use a professional to avoid any mistakes with drastic consequences. The solar panel cleaning costs associated with a professional are worth it for extra safety.

Although the answer to do I need to clean my solar panels ls is yes, ownership is pretty much worry-free. Regular cleaning, visually inspecting your panels, and routine maintenance makes all the difference. Choosing a well-qualified technician with a good record is the best way to go for satisfactory results.

Solar Panel Maintenance and Cleaning

Proper solar panel maintenance is key to making sure you can enjoy the full benefits of a solar energy installation.

What Kind of Solar Panel Maintenance do I Need?

Even though they’re sturdy and built with few or no moving parts, the elements can impact the efficiency of solar panels over time. At some point, most panels will need to be cleaned or repaired due to debris, falling tree branches, or heat and harsh weather. There are a couple of different kinds of upkeep your panels may need.

You can determine when to service your system by regularly monitoring your system’s production. If you notice a dip from normal output levels, it may be time to clean your panels or check to see if any repairs are needed.

You can determine when to service your system by regularly monitoring your system’s production. If you notice a dip from normal output levels, it may be time to clean your panels or check to see if any repairs are needed.

In some parts of the country, solar panels don’t need to be cleaned. But if you live near a freeway or flight path, or in an area where smog, dust, and other airborne particles are common, you could see a dip in your efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Cleaning your panels can easily resolve that.

If your panels are mounted on the ground, you may be able to clean them yourself. Panels that are installed on rooftops can create added challenges, and you should strongly consider hiring a professional cleaning service if this is the case.

Warranties cover repairs in the vast majority of cases. Typical warranties guarantee panel performance will not fall below a specified output level for a specified term. For example, a manufacturer might ensure that peak power output won’t fall below 85 percent for 20 or 25 years, depending on the length of the warranty. Secondary warranties can also offer the guarantee an even higher output for the first half of the warranty period.

How do you clean solar panels?

Even a thin layer of dirt and grime can have an impact on your system’s production, so you will need to inspect your installation regularly.

The easiest way to clean your panels is to rinse them off with hose water, simulating the cleaning action of rainwater. Other than a few minutes of your time, this method is free and can remove a majority of the grime that builds up. In places where little or no rain falls in the summer (such as parts of Arizona, New Mexico or Texas), this is a viable cleaning option to consider.

There may be times when a simple hosing won’t get the job done. If that’s the case, you have the option of hiring a professional cleaning service or taking a more intensive approach to cleaning the panels on your own.

Should you clean panels on your own or hire a service?

When cleaning panels on your own, never spray hot water on cold panels. Also don’t use RainX, car wax or rock salt, as all of these could permanently damage your system. And never touch any of the electrical components of your system, or you could inflict permanent damage upon yourself!

Instead, look into buying a solar panel cleaning kit. These should include soft bristle flow-through brushes, extension poles (up to 18 feet for rooftop cleanings), and solar panel wash/cleaner. These bushes counteract mineral deposits that will dry and become a scale on the surface of your panels. If you have soft water, you shouldn’t have to worry about this.

You may find significant savings if you sign up for a maintenance contract. That will guarantee your system gets cleaned at regular intervals (i.e., quarterly, annually, biannually)

Many people who live in snow country often wonder if they need to remove snow from panels after a snowfall. Generally, the answer is no. In most cases, snow and ice melt off panels and roofs reasonably quickly, but for this to happen, your panels need to be at an angle of 15 degrees or more. If production is dipping during the winter, check with your manufacturer to see what they recommend.

How often should I clean my solar panels?

It depends.

You need to regularly visually inspect your panels and also monitor the efficiency of your system’s production. When you notice dirt and grime or a drop off in the amount of system output, it’s time to freshen up your panels.

Depending on your situation, you may also want to schedule a preventative inspection. By having your panels inspected once or twice a year, you can proactively protect against a drop in production and spot repair issues before they become more significant problems. Expect to pay about $100 to $150 for a thorough inspection from a qualified provider.

Can I walk on solar panels?

There are some types of solar panels you can’t walk on under any circumstances. For example, you definitely can’t walk on aluminum-framed glass panels. For other types of construction, a manufacturer may state that you can occasionally step on their panels. Ask your manufacturer or installer and read the fine print if this is a question for you.

But in general, don’t walk on a solar panel unless you absolutely must. If you walk on a cell and it cracks, the power output will degenerate faster than average. The cracked panel will also be more susceptible to temperature changes that cause thermal expansions and contractions, which can cause materials to pull apart and exacerbate the problem.

What about protections offered through warranties and insurance?

Before walking on your panels, the other thing to consider is your solar installation warranty. Many warranties include several exclusions, including “damage or failures caused by external factors” which may be interpreted as purposely or inadvertently breaking a solar panel by stepping on it.

While homeowners insurance policies typically cover solar installations, the policy may only protect against specific risks such as theft, or damage from fire or wind. You should check with your insurance provider to see what they cover in your policy and maybe think about raising your coverage limit. Some providers may require you to add on to your policy or execute a completely different policy for some types of installations.

Maintaining a Leased Solar System

One other thing to consider is whether or not you buy or lease a system through a power purchase agreement. If you have a contract with a company that owns the panels on your home, they will be responsible for damage and maintenance.

A clean system is an efficient system.

Overall, solar panels don’t require much maintenance. They are highly durable, designed, and built to withstand the elements for 20 years or more.

That said, you do need to take care of your panels by cleaning them on a routine basis and repairing all parts of your system as required.

Are Solar Panels Durable in Hurricanes and Hail Storms?

Solar panels and hail are not usually talked about in the same sentence unless its someone asking about the damage of panels.

High efficiency solar energy panels are not thought to be durable and many homeowners worry that if they were to install panels on their homes, hail or a strong hurricane could possibly damage them which would cost them thousands of dollars in repair costs.

So, what should consumers know about the most durable solar panels before making the decision to install them on their homes?

What Are Solar Panels Made Of?

How Do Solar Panels Withstand High Winds?

Are Solar Panels Hail Proof And Hurricane Resistant?

Do Warranties Cover Damage Of Solar Panels?

What Are Solar Panels Made Of?

Perhaps the reason why solar panels get the reputation for being so fragile is because of what their components are. The individual solar cells which make up a solar panel are usually made of silicon which, when standing alone, is a fairly brittle material. Additional materials included in a solar module are aluminum, some other more precious metals, and glass. While none of these materials seem to durable on their own, when they are brought together, they become an extremely durable surface. The most durable solar panels have been thoroughly tested by laboratory technicians. Solar panels are put through similar tests as a car would while going through crash testing. The engineers seek to find out just how much these modules can take before failing or breaking. Luckily, solar energy residential systems are able to use these same solar panels on their roofs as are thoroughly tested by industry professionals.

How Do Solar Panels Withstand High Winds?

One of the most common designs of a solar energy residential system is that the modules are usually mounted parallel to the roof. At times, there is little more than six inches of space between the bottom of the panel and the surface of the roof. This helps the panels on the array remain highly aerodynamic. This allows even high winds to glide over the solar panels without creating too much up force. Even if there was some up force created by the wind, there are industrial strength bolts which hold the racking unit to the roof which then firmly secures the solar modules. The combination of being designed as aerodynamic as possible and proper securing by the installer guarantees that the solar modules will remain on the roof as long as the roof remains intact through an extreme storm. When completing a home project solar energy installers should be monitored closely because you will want to be sure that this part of the process is completed correctly. The most common reason for a system not being able to withstand high winds is because of an error by the installer.

Are Solar Panels Hail Proof And Hurricane Resistant?

Hail resistant solar panels are simply solar panels meaning there is no special type that you can buy that are specifically hail resistant. Solar module engineers take special precautions to make sure that the surface layer of glass is highly resistant to being hit with a variety of objects including hail. The ability to include glass that was clear enough to allow light through while still remaining strong enough to be resistant against things like hail was one of the many solar energy breakthroughs for scientists. Another impressive solar energy statistic is that solar modules can withstand wind up to 140 miles per hour before starting to get damaged. The importance solar energy installers have in this process cannot be understated. The better your system is installed, the more wind resistant the system will be. Solar energy harnessing can occur in all types of environments, even those more prone to extreme weather events. Solar panels hail and hurricane resistance make them a great choice for consumers all over the country.

Do Warranties Cover Damage Of Solar Panels?

An extremely surprising solar energy statistic to many is that solar panels are often covered by warranties for up to 25 years. This means that if they begin to malfunction, for a variety of reasons, they will be fully replaced by the solar panel manufacturer.

Warranties for high efficiency solar energy modules cover things like heat cracking, diode failure, or individual cell failure within the whole module. Additionally, solar modules which are damaged by hail are also covered by this same warranty. This again shows how confident solar module engineering teams are that their product will hold up to even the worst weather events. It is important to review a solar panel company before agreeing to purchase their product. Because these warranties may not be used until fifteen or twenty years in the future, you have to be relatively certain that the company will be around in a few decades to process the warranty claim. If they no longer exist, there will be no one to process the claim and you are left replacing the damaged panel on your own dime. To accurately project solar energy repair costs and become more comfortable with this number, homeowners should familiarize themselves with the specific warranty policy of their solar panel provider.

Solar panels hail resistance often surprise consumers. After all, hail is known to cause millions of dollars of property damage all across the globe every year. Solar energy harnessing is about more than just having enough sunlight and designing a product that will have the highest possible efficiency. It is also about designing a solar panel that will hold up in even the worst hail storms and hurricanes. The importance solar energy will play in the future of our country is unmistakable, luckily, they have been designed in a way that will make them last for decades to come even when going through some of the most extreme weather events. With the ever improving technology, there may even be solar energy breakthroughs on the horizon which will make them even more resistant. Homeowners should never be afraid of the combination of solar panels and hail. Hail resistant solar panels are sure to keep your system running for decades to come.

What Regular Maintenance Required for Batteries Used in Solar Systems?

It is a well-known fact that the overall performance and efficiency of a solar panel system is largely dependent on the quality and type of battery used.

Additionally, the upkeep and routine maintenance involved with a solar system is also heavily defined by the type of batteries used in connection with the system.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the required maintenance needed to keep your solar system batteries operating at an industry standard efficiency rate. We’ll also delve more deeply into a couple of different types of batteries often used with solar systems and what the maintenance requirements for each of these different types of batteries are.

What is Solar Battery Power?

Many solar power system owners themselves are still unclear on what is solar battery power. Solar battery power is electricity stored in a battery unit that is created by a solar panel. The solar panel is able to convert the sun’s light into energy using highly advanced solar panel materials and solar energy technologies. This power is then sent into a solar battery where it is stored for use as raw electricity. The batteries are connected to a home or other build structure’s main power grid and thus power from these batteries can be used just like traditional grid-supplied electricity.

How to Charge Solar Batteries?

Another often asked question regarding solar energy is how to charge solar batteries? This is done by simply connecting the battery to the grid containing your solar power pods, also known as battery banks. These solar power pods or battery banks are connected to the greater solar power system and will be receiving energy straight from the solar panels themselves.

Lithium-ion Solar Battery Maintenance

For at least a decade or more lithium driven batteries have been the preferred choice for solar system operators. Lithium batteries require very little maintenance, they are extremely high density, they store energy with little run-off, and they are increasingly cheaper than other battery types. These batteries work in most environments, however, they are not particularly well suited for extremely hot or freezing temperatures. They are also not the best battery to use for long term storage durations, as they will degenerate and lose stored power.

With regard to the solar battery maintenance of lithium-ion units, their main upkeep issue is caused by the degradation rate. Similar to the problem often faced by lithium powdered cell phones, lithium batteries used in solar systems tend to wear out after a set number of charges or discharges. Any lithium-ion battery powdered solar system owner must always plan ahead for this degradation rate.

The are two common types of lithium-ion batteries used in correlation with solar systems, lithium iron phosphate batteries (LFP) and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries. In the paragraphs below, we’ll break down the difference between the two, as well as go into detail about specific maintenance issues that each lithium battery type is faced with.

How Long Do Solar Batteries Last?

The first question that most people ask about a solar power system, is how long do solar batteries last? The answer to that question is approximately 5-15 years depending on the conditions in which they are stored in and the frequency that they are used. Every year the technology behind solar batteries improves and allows them to become increasingly durable and long-lasting. Even certified solar-based used batteries have a lifespan of approximately 5-7 years. Non-certified or factory refurbished solar-based used batteries will likely survive 3-7 years.

Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery (LFP) Maintenance

Lithium iron phosphate batteries (LFP) are well known to be safe, durable, very long lasting, and ideal for home or a garage-based solar panel battery bank. Due to the fact that this type of battery does not house any form of cobalt, a known fire hazard, they are often considered to be one of the safest battery types to use for residential solar panel systems. Lithium iron phosphate batteries also do not require any type of ventilation or cooling systems, making them ideal batteries to house indoors within the solar panel battery bank of a residential home or larger building structure. This is one of the most commonly used battery types for residential solar panel system users that require daily energy cycling and are attached to a greater electrical grid.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries do not require any maintenance at all, but it should be noted that the location where they are housed will absolutely affect how they perform. Inside each LFP battery, there is a device known as a battery management system (BMS). The BMS automatically keeps track of an individual LFP battery unit’s level of charge, internal core temperature, remaining cycle life, and much more. The BMS monitoring is essential to maximize the performance of any given LFP battery. If these batteries are housed at moderate altitudes and within a reasonable temperature range, owners will have zero maintenance to worry about ever.

Another great aspect of the extremely durable LFP batteries is that they do not break down due to repeated overcharging. In fact, there is little to no damage done at all from overcharging, a problem commonly faced by other types of solar system batteries. This makes LFP batteries the perfect refilling battery since no stress or worry is involved. They may even be the best refilling battery for homeowners since they may be away from the location for lengthy periods of time and thus their batteries might be the most susceptible to overcharging.

Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) Battery Maintenance

Lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries are another very safe power cell often used within residential solar systems. Just like LFP batteries, NMC units also possess a battery management system that diagnoses and monitors all of the unit’s core functions. Unlike LFP batteries, these batteries possess nickel and manganese cobalt oxide mixed within their chemistry, allowing them to store much more energy than all other types of lithium-ion batteries.

NMC batteries, like LFP batteries, require zero maintenance. The BMS attached to each battery unit will make sure that it is in proper and safe working order for the length of its service life. Extreme temperatures or usage will shorten the lifespan of an NMC battery, however, these conditions are not generally a concern for a typical residential or even low-level commercial battery user.

Do You Need to Refill a Solar Battery?

Nearly all types of solar-driven batteries are sealed and thus there is no need to refill them. One such solar-driven battery that can undergo a battery acid refill is a solar lead acid battery. How to fill a battery with acid? A solar lead acid battery can have a battery acid refill, you simply lift the cap off of it and carefully replace the solution. How to fill a battery with acid that is lithium based? This cannot be done, as lithium batteries are fully sealed. It should also be noted, that this type of lead-acid solar battery is highly inefficient when compared to lithium-driven solar batteries.

Removing Oxidation On Solar Lights Makes Them More Efficient

If you remove oxidation on solar lights is will help to make your batteries much more efficient. The oxidation can be wiped off using a very lightly moistened cloth mixed with warm water and dish soap. Once the panel is clean and oxidation free it will begin to process solar light at maximum capacity once again, allowing your batteries to soak up as much energy as possible from one of the cleanest forms of energy available on the planet.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last? | The Lifespan of Solar Panels

If you decide to invest in solar power, you will be making a long-term commitment.

While the initial cost can often be steep, it often pays itself over time via tax incentives and the savings you make on your power bill. To calculate how much you will save over time, the first goal is to understand how durable are solar panels.

Most solar panels come with a warranty of 25 years. Thus, you can expect your solar panel to last for at least that period. However, most solar panels continue to function long after the warranty expires, albeit at a lower efficiency. In most cases, solar panels lose about 1% efficiency each year they are in operation. Thus, by the time you need to buy a replacement solar panel, you will still have about 75% or more efficiency remaining. Besides that, it has been shown that over 80% of solar panels last well beyond the warranty period.

This article will cover everything you need to know about solar panels, the parts that need maintenance, and the life span of solar panels.

The Parts that Need Care

The over two-decade lifespan of a solar means that it will make economic sense eventually. Depending on where you live and the tax rebates offered, the solar system could pay for itself in just ten years.

Thus, how long is outlast might not be that important. Rather you should concentrate more on the maintenance. This will ensure that you get optimal performance from your solar panels. It will lessen the time it takes you to recoup your investment.

However, the solar panels themselves will need very little work. The most you will probably ever do is keeping snow off solar panels. However, other parts might not last as long. These parts such as the inverter, which converts the DC to AC power, might need repairs and maintenance.

For instance, most inverters have a warranty for about 10 years. This is almost double, how long the solar panels are supposed to last. However, the inverters will not just slow down like the panels, they will simply shut down.

This used to be the case but new technology has recently come along. These are called micro inverters. They are installed for each solar panel and they can last for up to 25 years. Thus, they might be the right choice for you.

However, even with the cost of buying a new inverter, you will still be saving a lot of money over the life of the solar system. For one, you will be able to lock the cost of electricity in your home for many years in the future.

Getting the Right Warranty

Sometimes, you might find damaged solar panels for sale. Without the right warranty, you might end up having to buy a completely new unit in just a few years. To ensure you do not pay for broken solar panels for sale, always check the warranty terms.

In general, there is usually an equipment warranty and a performance warranty. The equipment warranty ensures that they cover the full cost of replacing broken solar panels for sale. The performance warranty ensures that your panels must produce power above a certain limit.

If you find damaged solar panels for sale, which do not produce enough power, you can get them replaced. In some cases, this might entail solar panel glass replacement. However, always look at reviews online before you use a given company. This ensures you do not fall into a trap where you pay for various costs such as solar panel glass replacement out of pocket.

How to Take Care of Your Solar Panels

Just as any equipment left outside exposed to the elements, solar panels will suffer damage if there is no proper care for them.

Even when you understand how durable are solar panels, you can extend their life and performance by many more years before you have to get a replacement solar panel.

Some tips to think about are:

Use a Trusted solar Provider

The solar industry in the US has been around for a while now. During that time, clear winners in the solar industry have emerged. It is important that you choose equipment and installer that are known for quality. The good thing about using an established company is the reliability. For instance, if the solar system needs replacement parts, you can be assured of getting the parts with ease. It will also ensure that you can get the warranty terms fulfilled, unlike a small company that might go out of business soon.

Keep the Solar Panels Clean

A simple but effective method to ensure your solar panels give you the best output and last longer is keeping snow off solar panels and other debris. Ensure that you clear any overhanging branches near the panels that deposit leaves, which affect the performance of your panels.

If your panels are obstructed or have been damaged, get in touch with an expert. Modern solar companies will have someone arrive at your home in a few hours or days. Do not attempt to fix complex issues yourself since you might cause more damage.

Ensure the Solar System is monitored on a Regular Basis

Most companies will offer routine checkup of once or twice a year. Ensure that solar panels are always inspected according to schedule. Modern solar systems can last long if an issue is detected early. However, the longer it continues to affect performance, the longer it will take you to recoup the investment.

Take Care of the Solar Batteries

Batteries are a crucial part of solar energy systems. By taking care of them, you can extend the lifespan of solar batteries. This is true even for low-maintenance batter such as Li-ion batteries. It is important they be inspected about twice or thrice a year.

The lifespan of solar batteries varies from 3-10 years. This is reflected in the warranties issued by manufacturers. If you do not take proper care of them, they can fall apart in the first year.

For example, lead-acid batteries have to be recharged fully after use or it will permanently affect how long is outlast. They must never be kept for long periods with no power.

Most of the existing deep cycle batteries today, can last for 5-15 years based on use and care. Besides that, ensure that an expert does the installation to ensure proper installation.

In short, ensure that the system is designed perfectly from the start. Solar moving figures parts are few. Thus, the only damage that happens will most likely occur due to human error. Even if you are not an expert, you can educate yourself online on what things you need to check for on a regular basis. When you see a major problem, you can contact the technician.

Accounting for Loss in Efficiency

Since solar moving figures parts are so few, it is unlikely that the solar panels will even need replacement before 25 years. During that time, you might have even moved houses and sold the house for a premium due to the solar system.

However, the loss in efficiency might mean it no longer covers your needs. If the system loses too much capacity, you can always add capacity. However, always try to buy all part from the same manufacturer. This will ensure that they are compatible and there is no loss in efficiency.

Summary

Solar systems are quite durable and reliable. As a result, they have a zero carbon footprint by the time they retire. If you love clean energy and wish to save money on your electricity bill, consider getting solar panels installed.

A Closer Look at the Different Types of Solar Panels

With constant advances in technology as well as a growing market, you might be confused by the various types of solar panels available to you.

This shouldn’t stop you from looking further into solar paneling your home, however, as just a little research can provide you with the information you need to begin saving money with this alternative energy source.

What follows is a quick rundown of some of the most efficient solar panels available to home and small business owners.

What Types Of Solar Panels Are Available Today?

While there are various configurations based on its intended use, most solar panels you will encounter fall into a handful of categories. While this list is not exhaustive, these categories will include:

Polycrystalline Solar Cells

Monocrystalline Solar Cells

Amorphous Solar Panel

Thin Film Solar Panels

Polycrystalline Solar Cells

This is the first photovoltaic solar power cells which first appeared on the market during the early 1980s. They are made of square wafers of silicone that are cut from molded cubes. Photovoltaic systems based on this technology are shaped in the traditional square edge shape with a blue color.

These units have an efficiency rating of between 8 and 16-percent, with the newest technologies at the higher end. When comparing monocrystalline vs polycrystalline systems, these systems will come at a lower price point. This is due to a more simple refinement process, that is less wasteful than the methods used for monocrystalline systems.

Due to the lower efficiency rating of this type of cell, it will take more of them to generate the same power as other types. That will require more space. These cells have a shorter lifespan than monocrystalline systems do as well.

Monocrystalline Solar Cells

Photovoltaic solar power systems of this type use a refinement process that filters out all but the best silicone, which are more cylindrical in shape. The wafers are cut from these. Instead of the rectangular look of a polycrystalline cell, these devices are more round and are black in color.

Monocrystalline

The greater silicone refinement produces a higher efficiency rating of between 15 to 21-percent, with the latest designs reaching the higher end (and in ideal circumstances, beyond that). This allows them to generate more power within a smaller space, saving you room. They also perform better in low-light situations than polycrystalline do.

When comparing monocrystalline vs polycrystalline, it should be noted that the increase in efficiency comes with an increase in cost. That is due to the higher level of processing required to make each cell.

Amorphous Solar Panel

You have probably encountered these types of photovoltaic systems in small handheld devices, such as solar powered calculators. They are a type of thin film made from silicone. One or more layers of this film are placed upon the substrate of the cell.

Single layers of film are no very efficient, and even layered designs generate only 10-percent or less efficiency with most available products. This puts this technology at a disadvantage when comparing crystalline vs amorphous systems.

One advantage to when comparing crystalline vs amorphous is that the later uses a relatively small amount of silicone, often around one-percent of that needed by other systems. Another design element worth considering is that amorphous cells are flexible, giving them an advantage in some types of builds. That means that there is a lot of potential for this type of solar power for larger designs in the future.

Thin Film Solar Panels

As the name implies, a cell of this type is formed by a thin layer of materials placed on the substrate. This makes them easy to manufacture, and when combined with the fact that they use less silicone per cell, they tend to come at one of the cheapest solar panel price points.

Today, many of the larger commercial solar panel setups that you will see are made using thin film cells. Many people consider them one of the most pleasing designs due to their uniform appearance. With an average efficiency rating of between 10 and 16-percent, they will require more room to generate sufficient power.

Due to the larger spaces required for these types of PV cells, they are not found in most residential settings. With continued advances in technology, however, this design will likely continue to grow in popularity as time goes by.

Bifacial Solar Technology

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Another interesting development in solar power has been bifacial panels. Traditionally, a solar panel generates solar power from one side of the structure. Bifacial solar equipment can produce power from both sides of the panel.

Measured increases in efficiency have been seen with this design, with some manufacturers claiming up to 30-percent increases in total efficiency from reflected solar absorption on the secondary side. Most of the bifacial designs make use of monocrystalline cells, but some polycrystalline products are available.

What Are The Most Efficient Solar Panels?

For residential applications, the most efficient solar panels are the monocrystalline solar panels. Monocrystalline solar panels are the best performing PV cells when it comes to how efficient they are in converting sunlight into energy. Their ability to work better in low light conditions, such as cloudy days, also adds to this status.

The only real drawback to monocrystalline technology is the higher manufacturing cost. It should be noted that these prices continue to drop when compared to the costs even a decade ago. That trend will continue as solar power panel manufacturers continue to improve the refinement processes used to create these high-quality silicon wafers.

What Is A String Inverter And Why Are They Needed?

A string inverter is a device used to convert DC power into AC power. Electrical power coming from the power grid is AC (alternating current) and is converted to DC power through transformers plugged into your house’s electrical sockets.

Residential solar panel systems that are tied to the electrical grid will often use a string inverter to convert their DC current into AC current. If your solar panel system is not tied to the electrical grid, it will not use one of these devices.

Purchasing Used Solar Panels

A trend among homeowners has been to look for second-hand solar systems for their residential use. While this can save you some money at the start, the cost benefits of a used system dwindle when considering the lifespan of many used systems. You will want to keep in mind that most manufacturers list the life of a panel to be between 20 to 25-years at an 85-percent level of performance.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that UV light can damage substrate and frame components and that can influence the effectiveness of the cells. With such variables in play, we often suggest that homeowners would be better served by paying the extra money for a new system.

What Type Of Solar Panel Is Best For My Home?

While monocrystalline is the most efficient, that does not necessarily mean that they are the best for you. Some find monocrystalline too expensive and turn to polycrystalline panels for their needs.

Thin film designs are still finding their way into the residential market, and there is a bright future for amorphous systems. With that being said, stacking cells can become cost prohibitive for some. In short, the best solar panels will match your budget with your needs.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Run My House?

A home solar array is one of the most increasingly popular ways to generate electricity for your home and rely less on the local utility to provide power.

A solar system project is no small undertaking and requires a great deal of consideration and planning before it is started. One of the biggest questions that homeowners often have is, how many solar panels would it take to run my home? Because every home is slightly different, there is no one cookie cutter answer for this question.

Instead, we can look into some of the determining factors. So, what questions must be answered before being able to determine how many solar panels it would take to run your home?

Do You Live In Your Home Year Round?

What Is Your Average Annual Energy Load?

Are You Looking For A Grid Connected Or Off The Grid Solar Project?

Do You Live In A State That Allows Net Metering?

What Is A Rough Calculation To Determine The Number Of Panels?

Do You Live In Your Home Year Round?

The sizing of a solar system can be greatly influenced by how often you or a family member are occupying a home.

Some homeowners choose to fly south to a vacation home for the winter and then move back north in the summer. This is important to consider because it can drastically change the sizing of your system. If you are only planning to live in a home during the summer months, you may be able to build the solar system slightly smaller as there is more sunlight each day in the summer. If you plan to love in a home run by solar in the winter, it may need to be sized larger to account for fewer hours of sunlight each day.

What Is Your Average Annual Energy Load?

One of the most important factors to determine the size of a solar system is your average annual energy load. This is the amount of energy that your solar system would need to produce in order to offset using the utility generated energy entirely. Working out kilowatt hours usage can usually be done by tracking your monthly electric bills. This way, you will be able to see how your energy usage fluctuates throughout the year. Typically, homes use far more electricity in the summer, for cooling, than they do in the winter. For reference, the average single family home in the United States consumes just under 11,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year but your specific consumption may be slightly higher or lower than this.

Are You Looking For A Grid Connected Or Off The Grid Solar Project?

A home solar array that is connected to the grid may look far different than one that is off the grid.

A solar utility company will have input on your solar system if it is grid tied but none whatsoever if it is off the grid. A solar power generator with backup batteries are one of the most common ways to live off the grid. Typically, the batteries will charge all day while the sun is shining and discharge at night when the sun goes down and no more energy is being produced. There are advantages to both of these styles of system. Typically, you will need to oversize an off gird solar system to account for extended periods of little sunlight to ensure you will always have necessary power. With grid connected systems, a smaller system is fine because the grid is always there to make up for any shortcomings of the solar system. As solar cells price falls, it is becoming more and more cost effective to install larger systems to meet the full demand of the home.

Do You Live In A State That Allows Net Metering?

Because the sun does not shine around the clock, there will be some times when you are pulling energy from your solar utility company. Luckily, many states include a policy known as net metering which allows homeowners to export excess solar energy to the grid when they are producing more than they are using. Then, this exported energy is credited back to your bill at the end of every month. The utility will be working out kilowatt hours on your bill so you won’t ever have to worry about it. The advantage to state like this are that you do not lose any of the value of the solar power generator when it’s energy is exported. In other states without net metering solar laws, exported solar may only be valued at the wholesale rate as opposed to a regular resale rate. Net metering solar out to the grid also acts as a form of a “battery” without having to actually purchase one which can be quite expensive. Typically, states that have net metering laws typically already have the solar power infrastructure in place to accommodate energy flowing both in and out of a home.

What Is A Rough Calculation To Determine The Number Of Panels?

While there are a variety of solar pv tools which can be used to design a solar system for your home, they can often be expensive as can hiring someone to do this.

Instead, some rough calculations can be completed which will at least get you in the ballpark of what size your solar system will need to be in order to meet your entire home electricity usage. First, you must decide what wattage solar panels you will use on your home. Some free solar pv tools will be able to show you common wattages and estimated prices for them. You will quickly notice that higher wattage and more efficient solar panels are more expensive which will raise the total cost of the solar system project but may prove to be worth it in the long term.

For the cases of this example, we will consider a 365 watt solar panel. Next, we will assume that this panel gets around 8 hours of sunlight per day on your rooftop. A 365 watt panel receiving 8 hours of sunlight per day will produce almost 3 kilowatt-hours per day. This, multiplied by 365 days per year results in solar output of roughly 1,095 kilowatt-hours annually. Next, we’ll look at the average consumption of a single family home. Most recent data suggests that a typical home consumes just under 11,000 kilowatt-hours annually. So, when we divide our total consumption by the expected output of one solar panel, we see that roughly ten solar panels of this size would be enough to power the home. Ten solar panels at a size of 365 watts per panel results in an on or off the grid solar system of around 3.65 kilowatts.

This number can of course be higher or lower depending on your average amount of sunlight, personal energy usage, and a variety of other factors. It is also important to remember that there are some losses involved in solar energy usage and thus you may need to slightly oversize the solar system to account for this.

Solar power infrastructure is booming in the commercial and residential spaces. Thanks to the falling cost of solar paired with robust financial incentives at both the federal and state levels, solar cells price is lower than ever before. This is leading many homeowners to seek out what size solar system would meet or exceed their home electricity usage. By carefully considering all of the factors that go into solar energy usage, homeowners are able to gather a much better understanding on how they can make they switch to solar.

Best Solar Panel Mounts in 2019

Are you in the market for a new solar panel mount? If so, you’ve come to the right place—and at the right time.

Solar energy share has become one of the hottest stocks of the 21st century, as more individuals and corporations are turning to solar companies to have sustainable power options. We’re here to give you a stronger sense of what to expect from solar panel mounts in general, as well as a primer on the different types of mounts that are currently available so that you are able to have the most efficient solar panels in the solar industry.

When we’re through, you should have all the information you need to make an informed decision on your purchase.

Understanding Solar Panel Mounts: What they Are and Why They’re Necessary

In finding the right solar system for you there are important areas to look into such as the sensor, net metering, the output of the panels and many other aspects. Solar panel mounts and racks help you to get the best bang for your buck by keeping your solar panels secure, allowing for optimum energy production.

Adjustable solar panel mounts can be tilted as necessary, depending on factors such as latitude, the time of year, and the hour of the day. Panels can be mounted from either the roof or the ground so you can have the most efficient solar panels possible (see the next section for details on the differences).

If your panels don’t remain in place, they can’t operate at maximum efficiency when it comes to solar charger power. Since the cost of the mounting typically makes up less than 10 percent of the overall budget for your portable solar array, there’s no reason to forgo this important step.

Solar panel roof mounts are typically constructed of stainless steel or aluminum, so they’re built to last. Ground mount solar panel options offer the same quality—the differences are largely cosmetic, as you’ll learn in the following section.

Solar Rooftop vs. Ground Mount PV: The Pros and Cons

Rooftop mounts tend to be more popular than ground mounts, largely because they’re far less expensive. Because they require fewer mounting hardware, they take less time to install, which saves money on both the material and labor costs. Additionally, many roofs have enough of a slant to help solar rooftop panels achieve maximum exposure to solar light and maximum efficiency. If you have a large roof with enough available surface area to hold the panels securely, then a quick mount solar roof installation with a solar panel kit could be the right choice for you.

Ground mount PV (or photovoltaic) solar panels are a good alternative for those with insufficient roof space, not enough sunlight exposure, or too much shade from surrounding buildings. There’s greater versatility in ground mount systems, which can make them more appealing. The main drawbacks are the increased cost and the loss of acreage that occur as a result of the installation. In fact, some properties may not be large enough to consider this type of mount.

If you opt for a ground-mount system, understand that there are three basic types that are efficient solar panels:

Regular

Generally a regular ground-mount system is fixed panels that can only be adjusted manually.

Single-axis tilt

In a single-axis tilt the panels are able to move up and down along a horizontally-fixed pole to follow the sun’s path throughout the day so it can maximize the sunlight.

Dual-axis tilt

Dual-axis tilt is the most versatile mounting lamp, with a vertical pole added to the horizontal one; this allows the solar panels to travel from side to side, as well as up and down.

Other Considerations

Whether you’re looking at solar panel roof mounts or a ground mount solar panel system, there will be some red flags to watch out for.

“Budget” systems if a company offers a “budget” option, make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in the package. Some will only include the basics, such as rails and joints; you’ll need to invest in the pipes separately, as well as the installation.

Quick mounting hardware products while saving time can be a good thing, it isn’t worth it if the product is inferior. Research the brands thoroughly to ensure that they have a solid reputation for quality and durability before committing to a quick mount solar panel system.

Solar trackers single- and dual-axis solar trackers contain PV nodules with the ability to follow the sun. This equipment makes up a large portion of the solar energy share—in some cases, the tracker can cost more than the actual system. While they do increase energy by as much as 40 percent, the boost usually isn’t worth the investment.

Looking Toward the Future

While traditional solar panels continue to rely on mounts for stability, they may not be the final word in solar energy. As we move toward a new decade, the options for people looking to invest in a portable solar array are expected to increase.

Here are just a few of the cutting-edge technologies that are currently in the developing stages:

Clear Solar Panels

These will be placed on regular windows and generate solar power through the absorption of UV light.

Split Cell Solar Modules

Split Cell Solar Modules utilize a new form of architecture that promotes maximum efficiency—all at half the size of a traditional solar panel.

Bifacial

Bifacial panels would have the ability to absorb light from both sides, thereby dramatically increasing the solar charger power.

Whether your needs are residential or commercial, whether you opt for adjustable solar panel mounts or a more stable mounting lamp—there’s bound to be a solar panel mount system listed above that will work for you. Remember that until some of the newer technology is implemented, your solar charger power or your battery depends entirely upon the placement and efficiency of your panels, so be sure to choose wisely.

Florida Solar Calculator ….

Roof Mount vs Ground Mount Racking: What’s the Best Way to Mount My Solar Panels?

With the sustained calls for renewable energy adoption, more and more people are installing solar panels in their homes.

In fact, research shows that a solar system is installed every 2.5 minutes in the United States.

If you are thinking about having a solar array installed, you will find yourself with the dilemma of choosing either of two racking systems; roof mounting or ground mounting.

The need for proper racking systems is dire due to the various forces that work on a solar panel, such as its weight, that of the precipitation or dirt on top of it, as well as wind, rain, or seismic loads.

As such, it is imperative that the panel is able to withstand those forces, thus the need for a proper mounting system. The mounting system offers the structural strength required to accommodate the effects of these forces as well as providing the support necessary to keep the solar array system in place for maximum power output.

We mentioned earlier, when it comes to the installation of solar panels, you have a choice of either ground mount racking or roof mount racking. Your choice will be influenced by factors such as local requirements, budget, space, location, and your preferences.

But – is one type of mounting technique better than the other? This article will look at both types of mounting systems to put you in the know.

Roof Mounting

This is the most common method of installing solar arrays. The roof acts as the base support of the solar system. It is the most preferred option for city dwellers.

The configuration involves installing a series of flashings or a rail system that attach the panel to the roof. Rooftop solar systems can be installed via various configurations including railed, rail-less, shared-rail, and flat roof.

Homeowners and designers usually choose one that best meets the needs of that particular roof. However, the shared-rail configuration is the most popular since it is the most cost-effective.

Ground Mounting

This requires infrastructure that will excavate an area to install the mounting structure that will support the panels. Moreover, trenches will need to be built to carry the wires from the system to the building.

And because ground-mounted panels typically produce more power, they are mostly used by commercial buildings even though residential buildings also benefit from them.

Let us consider the pros and cons of each mounting system based on the following factors:

Roof-Mounted Panels

Costs

The reason why roof-mounted panels are the most common type of solar systems is that they are easy and faster to install. However, the condition of your roof is going to play a critical role in determining the overall costs of the installation.

This is because roof-mounted arrays need to be placed on a well-maintained roof that can last for at least 20 years without needing replacement. Thus, if your roof is over ten years old, it is likely that you are going to have to replace it during the panel system’s lifetime.

Uninstalling and reinstalling solar arrays is a complicated, arduous, and therefore, expensive process. Thus, an old roof will increase total costs.

Space

There is a limit to the size of the system you can place on your roof. While this may limit the amount of power you can generate, it allows you to preserve your property’s usable space.

Aesthetics

A roof-mounted system is typically less conspicuous. Nonetheless, this depends on your house’s positioning. If the front side of your house faces the south, your solar arrays will be very conspicuous.

However, if the house faces north, it means you will have the option of placing the panels on the backside of the roof. This makes them less noticeable. You may also choose to install roof tiles, which are modern panels that are designed to resemble roof tiles so as not to interfere with the home’s aesthetics.

Positioning

When installing solar arrays on the roof, you will be limited by factors such as the type of roofing, angle, and direction.

For instance, slate roofs with a steep descent are not preferable while an asphalt roof with a gentle pitch is considered ideal.

Other considerations include obstructions such as skylights, chimneys, buildings, and trees as they may cast shadows on the panels, thus limiting the overall production.

Maintenance

Taking care of roof-mounted panels is more difficult since it involves climbing the roof. Rooftop safety is not always guaranteed. In fact, installation companies always face a rooftop safety risk when performing their job. This is why you should call in a professional every year to do the maintenance for you.

Ground-Mounted Panels

Costs

As mentioned earlier, on average, ground-mounted arrays cost more to install as they require extra materials. Also, the installation is labor and time intensive.

The installation typically requires a cement foundation in addition to a reinforced pole structure to make sure the arrays are lifted off the ground, have the appropriate tilt angle, and are wired to the house. This amounts to quite significant costs.

Space

For large properties with a lot of unused space, the property owner can install a much larger solar system since ground-mounted systems are not bound by size limits like roof-mounted systems are. This gives such a homeowner the opportunity to generate much more energy thus saving on their utility bills even further.

Nonetheless, such systems typically consume a lot of space. Any ground-mounted array typically consumes more space than a roof-based panel, which might be an issue if you have limited space.

Aesthetics

A ground-mounted array system typically sits between a few inches and a couple of feet off the ground. This depends on your location and the type of mounting system you are utilizing. Thus, for instance, if you have a small space in your property then you install a big system, the arrays will be more conspicuous than they would have been on a rooftop.

As such, your solar system will be quite a distraction to your home’s aesthetics if your space is not large enough.

Positioning

The most ideal position for a solar panel system is to face towards west or south, with southeast and southwest alignments being the other possible alternatives.

Ground-mounted systems allow you to orient the system more easily. You will not have to deal with the obstructions that roof panels have to deal with.

As such, you will be able to ensure that your arrays are facing the right direction and at the right angle. This means your potential to generate energy will not be limited.

Moreover, ground-based panels typically come with solar tracking systems. These tracking systems allow the panels to tilt according to the sun’s position thus further enhancing your efficiency.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Even though solar systems do not typically require a lot of maintenance, you will still have to clean or repair them every once in a while. And because ground-based solar arrays are literally at ground level, cleaning and taking care of them is much easier than roof-based arrays.

Nonetheless, they require more frequent maintenance due to their proximity to dirt and snow.

One of the most significant milestones of the 21st Century is the continued campaigning for and adoption of renewable energy. The sun’s energy is easy to harness while also being infinite.

Solar panel systems are becoming increasingly affordable, as such, more and more homeowners are looking to have them installed in their homes so as to save on energy bills.

It makes sense. People want to conserve the environment while saving money. They want to buy solar cells to reduce their power consumption and long-term costs.

Not only that, but installation kits are inexpensive. Many models on the market will help do just about any job. Some people even choose to buy solar cells or portable solar power kits for tiny house heating.

However, when it comes to the actual installation, you will have to choose between ground mount racking and rooftop-mounted installations. Both are good with the most appropriate one for you depending on your needs.

Use this article as a guide. Are you looking to get a solar system installed in your home? Talk to our experts at Going Solar, and they will be glad to discuss all your needs and considerations. Get a free estimate here.

How Much Energy Do You Need to Produce?

Naturally, the amount of energy you require will determine how many panels you need. It’s crucial that you make a precise estimate of your KW needs to decide on how many solar-panels it will take.

It’s worth considering homeowners costs. Over time, any premium paid for installation kits will return a profit.

Homeowner costs for solar are dropping all the time as inventory increases. Electric solar panel kits cost 70% less now than they did ten years ago. It’s an ideal time to shop for the light mounting hardware and panels you want. Reduce your energy bill and experience the benefit of using clean, solar energy.

How Much Energy Do You Need to Produce?

Naturally, the amount of energy you require will determine how many panels you need. It’s crucial that you make a precise estimate of your KW needs to decide on how many solar-panels it will take.

It’s worth considering homeowners costs. Over time, any premium paid for installation kits will return a profit.

Homeowner costs for solar are dropping all the time as inventory increases. Electric solar panel kits cost 70% less now than they did ten years ago. It’s an ideal time to shop for the light mounting hardware and panels you want. Reduce your energy bill and experience the benefit of using clean, solar energy.

Incentives May Help Close the Deal

It’s worth investigating if there are any incentives to help you go solar. Many American states will help you pay for the costs of a new kit or installation. That simple fact could offer enough savings to motivate your move towards solar. One thing is certain. Solar energy is sustainable and affordable, so it’s worth the effort to set it up.

The curb appeal of your home goes up instantly when you have solar, even if it’s just for backup power generation. Nobody wants to be without power. Having a clean-energy generator scheme in place will add resale value to any property.

Capitalize on the Benefits of Solar Energy

The argument for sustainable energy is strong. It’s the ideal technology for anyone and carries many distinct advantages.

It helps reduce carbon emissions and your environmental impact.

You’ll save a lot of money over the lifetime of your house.

You don’t have to worry about ever-fluctuating energy prices.

You’ll be able to sell excess energy back onto the main grid.

Solar allows anyone to become 100% energy independent.

Any of these features should to enough to motivate you to check out a solar kit. When you combine them all, you end up with an ironclad argument for purchasing modern electrical generation equipment that will boost your quality of life. Not only can you help reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll save a ton of cash in the process. Why fight progress when you can embrace solar energy with a simple upgrade? Don’t forget, solar is also a perfect source of tiny house heating. Either way, expect total homeowners costs to plummet.

What is a solar panel warranty?

A solar panel warranty is a guarantee from a solar manufacturer or an installer that protects the customer for panel reliability and production output.

The two main types of warranties are a product/workmanship warranty and a performance warranty. The product warranty covers the actual panels against defects, equipment failure, and environmental issues. A performance warranty ensures a minimum base of electricity production is maintained during the warranty period.

Depending on the provider and type of protection provided, warranties typically run from 10 to 25 years.

Warranties provide essential financial protection for consumers and should be an essential part of the discussion when comparing systems before you buy.

Why do I need a warranty? Does my homeowner’s insurance cover my solar panels?

Solar panels are designed to last trouble-free for two decades or more. They are sturdy and durable, able to withstand harsh elements in every part of the country. But solar panel problems do occur from time to time. Rather than be stuck with a costly repair, your best bet is to buy product and performance warranties to safeguard your investment.

In some cases, a failed panel will not impact the overall performance of your system. However, at other times, a panel failure could cause adjacent panels to fail as well. Since panels can run up to $300 or more, replacing several panels without a warranty could be an expensive proposition.

At other times, a system will not experience a catastrophic failure. The amount of production may degrade over time, providing you with less solar benefits. A certain amount of loss in efficiency is normal, but when it exceeds a certain threshold, you will be stuck with an ineffective installation that won’t provide you with adequate electricity, or save you money as intended.

In some cases, solar panel insurance is covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy. In those situations, separate solar panel warranties are not required. In most cases, solar installations are considered a permanent attachment to a home, just like a patio or room addition.

It’s critical to check with your homeowner’s insurance provider to see if solar panel installations are covered. Also, check on what the deductibles and claim limits are for your system as well. Consider comparing the type of coverage you’ll have with a homeowner’s policy versus a solar panel warranty. There may be gaps in coverage, necessitating the purchase of a warranty for maximum protection.

Even if you’re covered under a homeowner’s policy, you need to look at coverage limits and consider increasing the amount to account for the cost of the solar installation.

What does a warranty cover?

Solar panel warranties cover two areas:

Performance Warranty

A performance warranty guarantees a solar panel installation will meet or exceed a baseline electric production output over the lifetime of the panels.

Under normal conditions, solar panel output production will degrade to some degree, but it should lose no more than 10-20% over 25 years. Typically, performance drops by one-half to one percent a year.

Typically, a performance warranty will guarantee 90% production for the first ten years and 80% for up to 25 years.

When panels drop below these figures, the performance warranty will kick in, and you will be able to repair or replace the problem panel(s).

Performance warranties guarantee that a solar installation will allow an owner to buy little or no direct electricity from a utility, minimizing dependence on the grid.

Product/Workmanship Warranty

A solar panel product warranty is also referred to as a material or workmanship warranty. In basic terms, it covers manufacturer defects and equipment failure.

Because solar panels are so durable, most manufacturers offer 10 to 12-year product warranties. A few premium warranties will extend out as long as 25 years. In most cases, the warranty will cover the cost of replacing one or more faulty panels with a new panel for things such as faulty wiring, corrosion, and premature wear.

Labor costs are included in some warranties. Depending on the manufacturer, a labor warranty can be offered at a separate charge. If labor is not covered, you could still incur a cost of several hundred dollars to pay someone to climb on your roof, remove the old panel, and install a new one.

How long do solar warranties last?

Warranties will vary by the type of warranty and the manufacturer that offers them.

The industry standard for Tier 1 manufacturers of solar panels is a 25-year performance warranty. Workmanship warranties are shorter, with ten years offered by many companies. But that number will vary by manufacturer.

You need to fully understand what is covered by a warranty and for how long. Solar panels are reliable, but you don’t want to get stuck with a big repair bill you thought you could avoid, simply because you misunderstood or didn’t take the time to dig into the warranty details.

Many companies offer 25-year warranties, but some may only cover shipping, handling, and the installation of a replacement panel. Others may include the replacement panel, but not shipping and handling charges.

Keep in mind that a warranty will only be as valuable as the company that provides it. You may get a favorable and comprehensive warranty from a manufacturer. However, if that company is financially shaky and ultimately goes out of business, you could be left with a worthless warranty. To protect against this, some companies offer third-party warranties as protection in case they do go out of business.

The good news is that a recent study by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) determined 4 out of 5 panels outperform their warranty. Projecting out over the long term, this means most solar systems are still going to operable to some degree or another after 25 years of service

Be careful not to void your warranty.

A warranty will only remain in force as long as your system is designed correctly and cared for according to guidelines. If you don’t use the solar equipment as it was intended, a manufacturer will void the warranty, and you’ll be stuck with the costs.

For example, part of what an installer needs to do is make sure that a system is appropriately sized. This means that an inverter, which has a voltage range that it must operate within, is appropriate for the number of panels to supply voltage that is within that range. If panels send too much energy, it will short-circuit your equipment, and your warranty will not cover the damage.

The same concept applies to battery banks, which must also be sized so that they discharge at an acceptable rate.

You may also void your warranty if you use an unlicensed worker to make repairs on your system, or if you accidentally step on your system while walking on your roof.

Are solar panel warranties transferable?

In most cases, solar panel warranties are transferable from one homeowner to the next. However, there are a few companies that will only provide a warranty to the original purchaser.

So, this should be one of the questions you ask before you enter into a solar system agreement in case you have any thoughts of selling your home in the future.

You must follow certain steps to make sure the transfer of a warranty is smooth.

Contact your solar system manufacturer before you list your home for sale to let them know your intentions. Buyers will not only want to know about the warranty transfer but also confirm any lease agreement can be transferred without a hitch as well. Make sure buyers know early on that the transfer of the solar lease and warranty agreements are contingencies of the home sale, so there are no misunderstandings during negotiations.

As part of the sale, you will sign a lease agreement and warranty transfer form with the solar manufacturer who will run a separate credit check on the new owners. Assuming everything is in order, you will need to confirm with the solar provider that escrow has closed to complete the transfer.

If a buyer does not want to take on the solar panel lease or warranty agreements, you may need to pay off the remainder of your service and warranty agreement. You can recoup the costs by bundling it into the sale price of your home. Another option, albeit an expensive one, is to physically transfer the system to your new home.