Solar Panels for Homes

Solar panels for homes gain popularity among homeowners. As an emerging technology, many want to gain the basic knowledge about solar panels and about solar electric generation systems. People want to know what are solar panels, how do they work, what is the cost of solar panels, and to find whether it makes sense to install solar panels in their home

What are solar panels for homes?

Solar panels convert sunlight directly into DC electric power. In a relatively short period of time, photovoltaic panels (another name for solar electric panels) evolved from a laboratory curiosity into a multibillion industry. As of the sixties, satellites were equipped with expensive solar panels to supply their electric demand. With the reduction in price, the panels found their use in remote from the grid locations; off-grid homeowners managed to avoid the very high cost of connecting to the grid fees and to avoid the noise and pollution of diesel generators. In an accelerated rate, solar panels find their way into the urban and suburban market.

What is the cost of solar panels for homes?

With the improvement in efficient production technology for photovoltaic panels, their prices had been shrunk. The prices are still higher compared to the cost to produce electricity by conventional power plants. Realizing the benefits of solar power, the federal government offers energy tax credits, so do most state governments and /or power utilities. Some states compel the utilities to buy back the surplus home production capacity by a mechanism called feed-in tariff.
By and large, what is important to you is how much will it cost you to buy the panels. The figure you need to look into is the cost in $ per watt production. A typical US home will install 2,000 watts to 4,000 watts production capacity panels. At $5 per watt, this presents a gross cost comparable to the cost of one average family car. If you join with neighbors and friends you can get the panels at wholesale prices and save considerably. If you buy smartly and use all the tax benefits, you can expect your investment to be returned in 5 to 7 years, while the life span of the solar system is longer than 20 years (some suppliers offer a warranty period of 25 years!)
Once your solar panels are up and running, your maintenance cost is very marginal, you are not influenced by the frequent electricity price hikes and you can be proud for cutting down your home carbon dioxide footprint

To get the background information on solar panels cost click here

Some people opt to buy surplus solar panels at reduced price. click to view my page on surplus solar panels to see the advantages and disadvantages.

Solar panels for homes expected output power

It is commonly asked how much electric power (and electric energy) can derived from a given size (for example a 2 feet by 2 feet solar electric panel or a 2 by 4 solar electric panel).The amount of solar radiation that impinges the solar panel is roughly 1,000 Watts per 1 square meter, or 93 Watts per square feet, when the Sun is exactly perpendicular to the panel. Not all this radiation is converted into electrons (DC electric current), actually for typical solar panels only a mere 15% only is converted into useful electric power. Therefore, the solar panel at best produces 93 times 0.15 = 14 Watts per square feet. A 2 feet by 2 feet panel ( 4 square feet) can than output 56 Watts. If we take into account 6 hours of effective daylight radiation, the 2 feet by 2 feet panel can produce (generate) 56 times 6 = 336 Watts-hour every day, and 336 times 30 = 10,080 Watts-hour every month (10 KW-hours).

Does solar panels for homes power system makes sense for me?

A solar power system is still an expensive technology. Before you dive into it, invest in saving energy at your home by finding thermal leaks through windows, doors and walls, by replacing your appliances to Energy Star appliances and by using more efficient compact fluorescent lighting bulbs.
Then, invest in a solar hot water heater; solar thermal equipment is by far more cost effective than solar photovoltaic. Evaluate your site to see whether a solar system makes sense for you. The two most important points to view are:

  1. Where is your home? Is it located within a sunny area?

  2. Do you have enough roof area facing South or Southeast?

As a rule of thumb, for a 2,000 watts production capacity you will need to have 170 square feet on your roof facing South or Southwest. You can use solar panels for homes laid over your existing roof or replace a portion of your shingles with solar roofing elements

More Solar Energy for Home reading

If you like this solar panels for homes page, I recommend the following pages for more reading as a complementary background material

To see more on saving energy at home tips click here

To see more on solar hot water heaters click here

To see more on solar power for home click here

To see more on solar panels technical background click here

Click here to see how to compare the cost of solar panels with a reference to good data base

To view my page on solar inverters click here

More on inverters? View this link on solar power inverters

For tips on buying solar panels click here

click to see what are the Thin film solar panels everyone is asking about

Click here to view buying tips for RV solar panels

Click here to view my solar energy Home Page

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Jacob Mintz

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