Solar panels are quite a controversial subject nowadays. Installing them is about as thrilling as insulating the attic; however, much like adding insulation, turning to solar energy is a home improvement that might even pay itself off, in addition to being an obvious environmentally conscious choice. So, should you install the solar panels?
How do they work?
The photovoltaic solar technology has actually been around since the 1950s, but the solar module prices back then (even up until recently) were basically unaffordable. In fact, thanks to declining solar module prices, this technology has been considered financially viable for widespread use only since the turn of the millennium. So, how do they work? Well, the photovoltaic (PV) cells are essentially batteries made with harnessing sunlight in mind. Once they’ve absorbed the light from our favorite star, they transform it into energy and send it to an inverter, which further converts it into electricity that can be used to power a house.
Of course, installing solar panels isn’t quite as simple as merely sticking solar panels onto your rooftop – a ton of additional wiring will need installing and you should also keep panel placement in mind – without this, building an efficient system is impossible, so hiring the professionals to do the job for you is unavoidable.
The right thing to do?
Let’s not fool ourselves, using solar panels is, without an ounce of doubt, the most ‘right’ way to go in terms of the environment. The main question here isn’t whether or not and how ‘green’ this technology is, but whether or not you can afford it. Despite the fact that they may end up paying themselves off, solar panels are a rather large one-time investment. Luckily (both for our environment and for your awareness), the price of solar panels and systems have dropped significantly. In fact, the costs are expected to go down even further, with the US federal renewableenergy tax credit cutting the cost of a solar power system by as much as 30%! So, to answer the question above: yes, installing solar panels is absolutely the right thing to do.
How much can you save?
Well, in some cases, solar power may well reduce your electric bill in its entirety, after recouping the installation, system and maintenance costs, of course. In a more realistic scenario, it will simply cut your utility bill by somewhere between 10% and 50%. This, however, is not to say that this is useless – even cutting your bill by 10% means a lot, plus you’ll be paying a huge tribute to our environment. Keep in mind, however, that solar panels are pretty much useless during the night, so you’d still depend on your local utility company. That is unless you opt for solar batteries such as the second generation of Tesla Powerwall, which are designed to store power generated from solar panels and feed the stored energy into your home during nighttime, power blackouts and cloudy weather.
Essentially, if your location gets enough sunlight year-round, you are looking at potentially huge savings.
How to pay for it?
Let’s not kid ourselves, a solar system isn’t a cheap investment. According to Time’s Money, it can set you back anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 after the federal tax credit. Although this investment will land you with monthly electric savings of $100 to $200 (which is an average household’s electric bill), you’ll still have to be able to actually physically afford a solar system.
If you have enough money saved up, we suggest to dive into your pocket and make this environmentally conscious and smart investment. Otherwise, getting a loan to purchase it won’t really be too difficult, with everybody becoming increasingly familiar with ‘green’ terms. Leasing the system is also a valid option and it can give you a guaranteed amount of electricity in return, for a price that’s about 10% to 20% lower than your general electrical costs. A PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) will land you with a deal that will allow you to pay for the amount of electricity you use.
Choose your perfect payment method and enjoy your savings, a clear mind and, more importantly, the fact that you serve as an example to others!