Solar Power: Environmental and Savings Benefits
Going solar: you know it’s good for the environment, but is it really worth the investment? If you’re considering photovoltaic panels or other solar power options as an energy source for your home, then you probably have some questions. Well, we’ve got answers. Here are 10 of the most important questions that you’re probably wondering about.
What If the Power Goes Out?
It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, the power goes out. So will your home’s lights and electrical appliances still be up and running while your neighbors are out of luck? Actually, no. The main reason your solar power system will shut off while the rest of the power grid is down is that utility workers may be working to correct the issue, and we don’t want to give them any unpleasant surprises by feeding power into the grid while they’re trying to work.
Does Solar Work When It’s Overcast?
If you live in Tucson, Arizona, then this might not be a concern for you. If you live in Portland or Seattle, though, you’re probably wondering about solar power’s ability to keep up when the sky is cloudy. You’ll be happy to learn that while it’s not as efficient on dark days, solar arrays still produce a respectable amount of power by converting UV and ambient light.
Can I Back my Solar System Up With Batteries?
Well, yes you can. But unless you have a really good reason to do so, there’s really not much incentive. Battery backup systems tend to be quite expensive, and the technology isn’t as reliable or maintenance-free as you might like. Plus, battery backup systems tend to be expensive and need to be replaced every few years or so. You’re probably better off just purchasing a gas generator.
How Much Maintenance Does Solar Require?
Actually, solar panels and systems need very little upkeep. Keep the glass surface clean and get your panels inspected after a particularly bad storm, and your photovoltaic system should provide you with clean, sustainable energy for years to come.
Will Solar Panels Work for My House?
The vast majority of the time, the answer to this question is “yes.” Homes with simple rooflines and ample southern exposure are ideal, but most homes can be fitted with solar panels in a way that’s effective and efficient. Even those that have no south-facing roofs can have panels mounted at an angle that will still allow them to catch plenty of solar energy.
How Much Does Solar Cost?
A better question might be, “how much does solar save?” Still, going solar does have certain costs associated with it, even though it almost invariably ends up paying for itself in the long run.
The overall cost of going solar depends on a number of important variables. For starters, there are different types of solar panels available. The amorphous silicon variety has been around for years, and they tend to be less expensive than the more efficient and advanced monocrystalline silicon panels. You’ll also need to figure out whether you’d like to completely replace power from the grid as your primary source of energy, or simply supplement your existing usage. Finally, the rebates and incentives for solar will vary depending on where you live.
If up-front cost is a deterrent, you may want to consider leasing solar panels. You won’t see the same long-term returns, but you’ll definitely reduce your initial outlay.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Modern solar manufacturers generally offer warranties in excess of 20 years, but most panels are designed to last longer than their warranties suggest. As long as you keep your solar panels clean and well maintained, they should have excellent longevity. Be sure to have a frank discussion with your solar power installation company about warranties, maintenance, and other concerns you may have.
[Photo Via: WTE Intl.]