In 2020, the world installed 260 gigawatts (GW) more of renewable energy capacity. Of those new installations, solar and wind accounted for more than 90%.
This 2021, experts are forecasting solar photovoltaic (PV) demand to increase further. So much so that they expect new additions to reach 153.8 GW, which would be 13.8 GW more than the previous year.
All that highlights how more consumers all over the world are going solar. It’s time you do the same and consider investing in solar panels for your home, too.
On that note, we came up with this guide covering the basics you need to know about solar PV systems. Read on to learn about the benefits of solar, where to place your panels, and alternatives to roof systems.
Financial Incentives of Going Solar
When you switch to solar, you can reduce your reliance on your electricity provider. Your solar panels may even generate enough power to supply all your energy demands. In either case, you get to reduce your energy-related costs, so you get to save money in the long run.
Your federal, state, or local government may also be offering solar incentives. For example, the US has the nationwide Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) program. It’s a dollar-for-dollar tax incentive for property owners who install solar PV panels.
The ITC has been around since 2006, and it will be until 2023 for homeowners. The 26% credit applies to homeowners who start their solar PV installation from 2021 to 2022. This then drops to 22% for projects that begin in 2023.
Many states and municipalities also offer cash incentives or rebates for solar equipment. Some offer grants or loans for the purchase or installation of solar PV panels. The DSIRE site has a complete list of solar programs offered in the US, so be sure to check those for your state and city.
Environmental Benefits of Switching to Solar
Solar isn’t only renewable; it’s also one of the cleanest sources of energy. Solar energy itself doesn’t emit pollutants, nor does it involve burning. It’s not completely carbon-free, but its footprint is about 18 times less than that of coal.
Those are some of the key reasons experts all over the world encourage the use of solar.
Now, keep in mind that coal and other fossil fuels are the primary sources of electricity. To obtain electricity from these energy sources, they must undergo combustion. It’s this burning process that emits not only carbon dioxide but a plethora of air pollutants, too.
Peak Sun Hours
Solar panels perform best when directly exposed to the most intense sunlight. Intense sunlight, in turn, occurs during the day’s “peak sun hours.” It’s the time of the day wherein the sun’s intensity averages 1,000 watts of energy per square meter.
The more peak sun hours solar panels get exposed to, the greater their energy output. The higher the panels’ output, the more clean energy you get to enjoy.
However, peak sun hours are dependent on your location. The closer you are to the earth’s equator, the more intense the sunlight is, and the more peak sun hours you get. For example, Alaska receives only about 2 to 3 peak sun hours, while Arizona gets a staggering 7 to 8 hours.
The Direction in Which the Panels Face
In the northern hemisphere, it’s common for domestic solar power systems to face south. After all, this is the direction in which the panels receive direct sunlight exposure. South-facing PV panels get a lot of sun throughout the day, allowing them to generate a lot of power.
Panels that face east or west still generate power, but about 20% less than those facing south.
The Roof as the Installation Location
Roofs are common locations for solar panels, as they provide an unobstructed view of the sun and sky. However, the same orientation rule applies. So, to get the most out of the best solar panels for home use, you’d want to mount them on a roof that faces south.
However, be sure to factor in the condition of your roof first, whether it’s asphalt or metal roof. The entire length of the roof must be strong and supportive enough to bear the extra weight of the solar PV system. Otherwise, your roof may develop leaks, or worse, parts of it may give in due to the weight of the panels.
Do note that each 60-cell solar panel weighs about 40 pounds on average. So, if you mount 25 panels, that would sum up to 1,000 pounds of extra weight on your roof. That’s incredibly hefty, which is why it’s vital to confirm your roof can support a whole PV system.
Available Alternatives To Roof-Mounted Solar Panels
Most well-maintained roofing systems can handle the weight of solar PV systems. However, older roofs or those with severe damage may not be as structurally sound. In this case, you can either get your roof repaired or replaced, or you can mount your solar panels elsewhere.
The good news is that ground-mounted panels can work just as well as roof-mounted ones. It’s still best for them to face south, though, and their view of the sun must always be clear and unobstructed.
Ground-mounted panels may also be a better option if you don’t want nails and screws driven to your roof. Plus, having them on the ground makes them easier to clean and maintain. Do note that layers of dust and debris on solar panels can reduce their efficiency by up to 35%.
However, ground-mounted panels are usually more expensive than roof-mounted systems. That’s because they do come with more mounting hardware and equipment.
Time To Get High-Quality Solar Panels for Your Home
There you have it, your comprehensive guide to investing in solar panels for your home. Just keep in mind that south-facing panels yield the most energy and that the roof is often the best place for them. However, if it’s not a viable option for you, you might want to go with ground-mounted panels.
Either way, switching to solar can be good not only for your wallet but also for the environment.
Looking for more ways to improve your home’s livability and value? Then be sure to check out our other up-to-date news and blog posts!