Tag Archive | "solar panels"

Selling Solar Power Back To the Power Companies

A way that you can save money using solar energy, is by selling your excess power to the power company. Many states have laws that require the electric companies to buy excess power from property owners generating their own electricity. Not only can you power your home for free using solar energy, you can make money using solar energy.
Most utility companies offer what is called “net metering,” which describes how they take energy from your PVsolar energy system and upload that electricity to the power grid. You don’t actually make money using net metering in that you don’t get a check from the power company but you do get a credit to your account for all the energy that they take from your solar power supply. What that means is when you are producing excess power and sending it to the electrical credit you get credits that offset when you are not producing enough solar power electricity and have to take electricity from the grid.
Since most homes don’t use solar energy for 100% of their power even if they have a PVsolar energy system having the power company give you credit for excess energy is a nice way to get rid of your electric bill each month. If you have more credit than you use that credit will just roll over from month to month, it’s very rare for the energy company to actually send you a check; you’d have to have a huge solar panel array for that.

However, you don’t need to have an ultra powerful solar panel setup in order to have excess energy that you can sell back to the electric company. Since the amount of power that you generate with your solar panes is dependent on how much sun your property gets it’s possible that you could get enough sun during the hot summer months to build up a large credit with the electric company during the summer and then you can use that credit to pay for electricity that you need to use during the winter months when you don’t get as much sun.
To be hooked up to the grid like this and be able to both take in and put out power required very specific electrical equipment. It is a different setup than if you were not connected to the grid and were powering your building directly and only from the solar panels. Fortunately, there are companies that specialize in this type of equipment and they can help you determine exactly the equipment you need.

Each power company has different rules about the application process to be approved for net metering so if you’re interested in learning about net metering you should contact your local power company to find out the details of net metering where you live. Regardless of where you life you will probably have to have your solar panel setup inspected by the electric company and you might need to make some minor adjustments to your system in order to meet their qualifications.

Selling power back to the electric company or back to the grid as it’s called is a great way to save money and it’s just one more way that using solar energy can pay off for you. It also is a very good feeling to make the electric company pay you for a change! Using net metering even when you do need to use grid electricity you won’t have to pay for it making the solar energy panels well worth the cost.

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How Many Solar Panels Will You Need ?

Determining how many solar panels you need to buy in order to power your home with solar energy can be tricky. In order to figure out how many solar panels that you will need you first need to figure out how much energy you need to run your home normally and how much sun your area gets on a normal day. Let’s start by figuring out how to calculate how much energy you use on a daily basis.

Even if you’re using solar energy to power most of your home you will probably still be using grid electricity or gas to power large appliances like your water heater or your washer and dryer because solar energy is really not cost effective to use for major appliances. So you will be using solar energy to power things like your lights, TV, computer, phone, cable, refrigerator, microwave, kitchen appliances, and so on.

To figure out how much energy you use to power those things you will need to look at the detailed figures of your electric bill. Most people just take an average of the amount of energy used per hour because it’s easy to find that on the bill. So for the purposes of this example let’s say that an average home uses 800 watts per hour. Multiply 800 watts per hour times 24 hours in a day and you get 19,200. So the average home uses 19,200 watts of energy per day.
Now you have to look at how much energy a solar panel is capable of putting out each day. A typical consumer solar panel is capable of putting out 70 milliwatts of power per square inch every five hours. So multiplying 70 times 5 you get 350 milliwatt hours per day. Dividing 19,200 watts of energy used per day by 350 milliwatts of output by a single solar panel and you will need about 54,000 square inches of solar panel to create enough electricity to provide power for most of the appliances in the house.

Now that’s calculating for just basic appliances. If you want to add one room air conditioner you need to double your power output. So, if you want to use solar energy to power your entire house and you want to keep the initial cost of buying and installing solar panels down you should think about switching to smaller, more energy efficient appliances and learning how to conserve energy as often as possible.
Having this basic information about the size of the solar panel array that you will need will make it a lot easier for you to get accurate quotes from solar panel dealers because most of the time solar power systems are priced per square foot. Every home is different so every home needs a different amount of solar panels in order to get useable solar power.

The other factor that matters when it comes to determining how many solar panels you will need is the position of your house. Because the solar panels need to absorb as much sunlight as possible in order to work effectively the more of a southern exposure your house has the more power the solar panels will generate and the less of them you will need. Make sure that the position the solar panels need to go in has enough room to accommodate the number of panels that you’ll need.
When you are figuring out where to put your solar panels try to figure out where due south is in relation to your house and plan on positioning the panels there.

To find out where due south is when it comes to your property you can take the number of hours between sunrise and sunset and divide that number in half. The position the sun is in at that time during the day is due south.
If your property doesn’t have a due south exposure or you can only put the solar panels in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight you will need to either use an additional solar panel array on your roof, or put in some solar roof shingles, or you can also use a battery to help your solar panels produce more power.
When you make the decision to install solar panels it’s best to have a trained solar panel consultant come to your property and look it over. A solar panel consultant can advise you on the best position for your solar panel array and can also help you determine exactly how many solar panels you’ll need.

The amount of solar panels that you need to power your house will also depend on the type of solar panel that you choose. Different types of panels will give off different amounts of energy so if you’re using your solar panels for full power in your home then you should consider getting the highest grade monocrystalline solar panels that are available because they have the highest electricity return rate and are the easiest to custom fit because they are one large sheet instead of groupings of individual PVcells.

If you are going to use solar power only as a supplement to traditional grid power and to do things like heat your pool and hot tub, or power your outdoor lights, then you can choose a less expensive type of panel or you can buy fewer of the high grade solar panels.

If you want to use solar power but aren’t sure that solar power is going to be enough to power everything in your home then just installing a few solar panels and using some solar energy is a good way to find out how much solar energy your property can generate.

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Top Reasons to Install Solar Panels

Here are the top reasons why buying and installing solar panels to provide your home with solar energy make sense:

It helps the environment.
This is a big deal. The less fossil fuel energy that people use the more we can help sustain the environment and slow down global warming. If you and everyone you know switched to solar energy you could really make in impact on the environment. Even though switching to solar energy seems like a small thing when it comes to the environment small things like going solar really do make a difference.

It doesn’t cost as much as you think.
Most people think about going solar but ultimately decide that the price is too high. But the cost isn’t as high as you think once you factor in the various grants, incentives and rebates that you can get from the Federal government and the state that you live in which reward homeowners for going solar.

You can save money.
Over the length of the life of your solar panels you can save thousands of dollars by powering and heating your home for free, or virtually for free. Even though the up front costs seem high when you consider the amount of money that you will save in energy costs the up front costs seem pretty reasonable.

You can make money using solar energy.
Did you know that? If you make more solar energy than you use in your home you can sell your excess energy back to the power company and make money. Many states have laws that require the electric companies to buy excess power from property owners generating their own electricity. Not only can you power your home for free using solar energy, you can make money using solar energy. You won’t make enough money to quit your job or retire, but you could make enough to help out with household expenses.

You’ll be self-sufficient.
You will never have to worry about going with electricity during a power outage or worry about what will happen if there is a storm that knocks out power to your area for days or even weeks. With the weather getting more unpredictable every year because of the effects of global warming using solar energy can give you peace of mind that no storm or power problem will interfere with your home having power and heat.

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Are Solar Panels Right For You ?

If you’ve been thinking about switching to solar energy you might be having trouble deciding if buying and installing solar panels is the right thing for you. After all, the up front cost to purchase and install solar panels isn’t cheap and for some people the short term costs of investing in solar panels can be a burden. Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you decide if solar energy is the right thing for you:

Can you afford the up front cost to buy and install the solar panels?
Most people either add the cost of solar panels into the cost of their new home or use money from the mortgage to pay for the solar panels or take out a home equity loan in order to pay for them. If you’re taking out a loan then you need to go over your finances and figure out if you can really afford the required monthly loan payment. Eventually the solar panels will pay for themselves but the up-front cost is such that at first you might be strapped financially after buying and installing them.

Can you live with the inconvenience?
Solar power is variable. If there is no sun or very little sun on a particular day then you won’t get any power from the solar panels and you may have to use grid electricity or go with reduced power for a time period. Are you willing to put up with little inconveniences to have a greener household?

Is your home set up for solar energy?
Do you have the necessary space requirements and land requirements to support a solar array? If you’re going to choose solar roof shingles do you have the necessary permits for building? Make sure that your home is properly set up for solar panels or solar shingles before you invest in a big purchase of solar panels or solar shingles.

Are you willing to do the maintenance?
Solar panels are low maintenance but they still do require some maintenance. You will need to occasionally clean off the solar panels. They will gather dirt and debris over time and anything that blocks the sunlight from reaching the solar panels will decrease the amount of energy you will receive. If you live in an area which gets snow in the winter that means every snowfall you have to clear of the solar panels. Also, the electrical equipment required to run the electricity from the solar panels into the electrical grid of your home does require some watching. There are stringent requirements for this because of the variability of the energy coming from the solar panels. So, it requires some monitoring.

The Three Main Requirements for Using Solar Power in Your Home
Solar energy will work in almost any home that physically has the space to support an array of solar panels. With the wide selection of solar panels available it’s not that hard to find solar panels that are the right shape and size to fit into any building. Still, there are certain things that your home has to have in order to effectively use solar panels and solar energy. The main things that your home needs in order for solar power to work at your home are:

Enough space to put the solar panel array.
If you don’t have enough land or roof or wall space to put the solar panels on the house then solar energy isn’t going to be effective for you. Depending on the type of solar panel that you choose you might have to have a large solar array in order to generate enough energy to power your home which would make it necessary for you to have some open space. If you live in a crowded city you might not have room for solar panels although solar shingles might be a good option for you. Local building codes may also restrict your options of solar panels. Be sure and check with your local government as to any restrictions they put on the size and location of solar panels on a building.
Since solar shingles go on the roof of the home just like a traditional roof solar shingles make it possible for homeowners that don’t even land to support a lot of solar panels to gather and use solar energy. Some types of solar panels can be installed on your roof without damaging your existing roof shingles but if you decide to install solar panels on your room you should have a professional do the installation to make sure that your roof isn’t damaged during the installation.

Enough sun to make the panels work.
If you live in a climate that is cloudy most of the time or dark a great deal of the time then you will not be able to use solar panels effectively. Unless the solar panels are exposed to direct sunlight for most of the day everyday they will not generate enough energy for you to use. The more sun there is the more power you can generate.
If you live California, Arizona, Florida, or a state where it’s bright and sunny most of the time then solar energy is a great option for you. If you live in a state that sun part of the year and lots of storms or snow the rest of the year then you can still save money using solar energy for some things but you’re better off using grid electricity during the winter.
Another factor is how far north you are. The farther north one is on the planet, the lower the sun is in the sky. This means that the rays of the sun are hitting the solar panel at a more oblique angle so less actual light energy is hitting the solar panel. In northern states like Minnesota or Maine solar panels are going to be less efficient than in southern states like Louisiana and Florida.

A way to finance the price of the solar panels.
A solar panel isn’t cheap. A high quality solar panel array plus installation could cost in excess of $20,000. It’s important to make sure that you have worked out a way to afford the cost of buying and installing the solar panels before you go to purchase them. Remember that you don’t have to pay the entire cost of the panels out of pocket in most cases because there are lots of grants and incentives you can get to help cover the cost.

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Solar Power and the Environment

You already know that switching to solar energy can have a big effect on the environment, but you might be wondering just how big an effect. After all, can one person or one family switching to solar energy for heat and electricity really make that much of a difference on the environment?

Yes! One person or one family can save 20,000 tons of greenhouse gas from polluting the environment just by using solar energy to heat your hot water and heat your home. 20,000 tons is a lot of greenhouse gases! And that’s just if one home just switches to solar energy. Imagine the decrease in greenhouse gases that could happen if 20,000 people per year switched to using solar energy to heat their hot water and heat their home. Add to that the effects of reducing energy consumption by 50% if you use solar energy for electricity and suddenly the impact on the environment is enormous.

In addition to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that you put out switching to solar energy has a big impact on the environment because you will be reducing the amount of fossil fuels that you are using. Fossil fuels are very bad pollutants and contribute directly to poor air quality and other environmental problems.

The environment isn’t just hurt by people burning fossil fuels for energy. The environment is also hurt by what is necessary to get those fossil fuels. Enormous portions of the earth need to be dug up, processing plants and refineries built, and natural ecosystems destroyed all over the planet just to get to the fossil fuels that are buried in the earth. Most of the pristine wilderness is gone in any country that has natural deposits of fossil fuels because of the ever-growing demand that countries around the world have for fossil fuels.

When fossil fuels are processed there is a huge amount of solid waste, much of it toxic, that is left behind. This waste takes up space in landfills and then seeps into groundwater while the runoff flows to the waterways polluting the water and the soil. The carbon dioxide and other gases that are released poison the air for miles around the processing plants of these fossil fuels.

Solar energy might not solve all of the environmental problems that we face as a result of the overuse of fossil fuel but it’s a start. Just having a few thousand people per year switch to using solar energy to heat and power their homes will be a big step towards creating a safer, cleaner environment for everyone. And since the costs of buying and installing solar panes is dropping all the time soon it will be a lot more common for homes to use solar energy for their power needs.

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Solar Panels & Solar Cells

Solar panels are flat collections of solar cells that are used to catch the Sun’s energy and use it to create electricity and heat. Because the sun’s energy is so spread out it takes a collection of solar cells to generate enough energy to make electricity or heat. Solar panels come in different sizes and shapes so that they can be used on a variety of different types of buildings but no matter what shape or size they are the basic design of a solar panel is the same.

How do solar cells work?
Solar cells are wafers made of a semi-conductive material, usually silicon, combined with rarer elements such as phosphorus and boron. The silicon is what grabs the energy from the sun and traps it to be used for electricity while the phosphorus and the boron help excite the molecules and intensify the energy that is coming into the cell. When the sun’s rays hit the silicon and are channeled through the cell the molecules excite and travel through an attached electrical circuit, creating electricity.

Solar panels convert anywhere from about 14% to about 22% of the sun’s energy that hits the panel into electricity. That doesn’t seem like a lot of electricity produced but the amount of electricity that a solar panel can generate also depends on where the panel is positioned and how much direct sun it gets. When there is no sun or the panel isn’t in the directly sunlight it gets little or no sun and will produce little or no electricity. The low efficiency of solar cells is a problem to their large-scale use. It takes many large solar panels of solar cells to provide enough electricity to power a house or a building.

Solar panels produce electricity that can be used for lighting but solar panel energy can also be used to heat a home or building. A solar thermal heating system consists of solar panels that are arranged in a specific spot where the solar panel energy is used to heat a tank of water. The hot water runs under the floors of the house, heating them, and then the water is piped back to the tank to be heated again.

Thermal solar heating systems work very well and are a cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative to expensive gas or electric heating systems. Solar thermal energy is often used quite a bit by people that have pools and outdoor hot tubs to heat the water they use. It’s a lot less expensive to heat a large pool or a hot tub with thermal solar energy than it is to use fossil fuel heaters that can cost a fortune.

Solar photovoltaic systems, or PVsystems, are the components in a solar cell that actually grab the energy from the sun and turn it into energy. PVsystems are the fastest growing area of technology in the world and production of solar cells that use PVsystems has been consistently doubling about every two years. Mainly this is due to rising interest solar energy and the desire of more people to buy solar panels to create their own electricity and heat for their homes. The demand for improved solar power technology encourages governments and businesses to invest time and money into improving the technology and making it more cost efficient.

Some governments around the world, especially in Europe, are giving financial incentives both to companies that are working on developing PV systems and making them more efficient and less costly to the average consumer and also to the consumers that buy them. Because PVsolar cells are still relatively new when it comes to solar energy the cost of a solar panel containing PVcells is still fairly high in most places. Also, one solar panel is not usually enough to power an entire home which makes using solar PVsystems even more costly for the average homeowner.

The good news is that more and more homes are being built with PVsystems already installed which makes it easier and less costly for consumers to buy environmentally friendly homes that run on solar power. Businesses that want to operate factories more cost effectively and in a more environmentally friendly way while collecting some nice government incentives are also installing solar PVenergy systems. Germany is currently the biggest market for solar PVsystems with the United States, Australia and Spain not far behind.
Solar PV systems are being used successfully around the world to power devices like roadside signs, traffic lights, emergency phones, and other stand alone devices that might be difficult to power using traditional electricity or batteries. Solar PVenergy has proved enormously successful at powering these devices. Using solar PVsystems in these types of devices and in other everyday machines like parking meters has saved many cities and towns a lot of money because they don’t need to send out regular maintenance crews to make sure that these things are still running properly.
Critics of solar PVsystems say that while the solar energy produced by the PVcells doesn’t have any harmful effects to the environment the production of these cells does result in some pollution. Advocates of the solar PVcells say that they are working on developing a type of PVenergy cell the production of which won’t produce any pollution. While the production of the cells does create some pollution it doesn’t create as much pollution as other types of materials do when manufactured or used to create energy.

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Beginners Guide to Solar Power

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products. There has been a vast increase in the interest of businesses and everyday people in finding ways to live in a more environmentally responsible way and to find alternate fuel sources.

It’s not always easy to find ways to be more environmentally responsible and still meet all the obligations of everyday life. For example, many people would like the chance to ride a bike to work everyday or walk instead of having to drive a car but for many of those people that’s just not a feasible option.

Taking public transportation is a better alternative than driving to work everyday but that isn’t much in your control. Whether or not you can take public transportation really depends on where you live and how much of a public transportation system there is in place in that city. It’s not unusual for a large city to have a public transportation system that doesn’t function well in reaching its population or a smaller city not to have any public transportation available at all.

So what are some options that are out there for people who want to live in a more environmentally-friendly way but still have to deal with certain day-to-day realities that don’t always allow them to make the choices they’d like to make? One of them is using solar energy to help heat and power your home. Solar energy is a completely renewable energy source that will save you money on your heating and electricity costs as well as save environmental resources.

In the past using solar energy was not really something that most people could use at home because the technology was still being developed. In recent years the investment by government and industry into developing solar power technology has made using solar power much more affordable and feasible. Today homeowners and apartment and commercial building developers are able to use solar energy and help the environment while saving money.

Using solar energy as a main power source is still relatively new in the United States but other countries have been relying on solar power for a large amount of their energy needs for years. These countries have proven that with the right equipment and technology it is possible to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources. Because solar energy produces no greenhouse gases, using solar power helps the environment.

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