How to Choose a Solar Energy System for Home
Home solar energy systems are designed to reduce your reliance on the grid, lowering your electricity bill. Most homeowners also produce more electricity than they use, selling the excess back to their utility.
Solar panels generate direct current (DC) power. Appliances in homes require AC power, which requires an inverter to change from DC to AC.
When comparing solar quotes, it’s important to consider the total system wattage and the number of panels included. Choosing a system size that meets your energy needs will help you determine the best solar price per watt. The amount of sunlight that your home receives will also impact the size of your solar system, as will how much of your electricity use you want to offset with solar energy.
The cost of a residential solar energy system can vary widely. However, most systems cost between $3-5 per watt prior to applying any available incentives solar battery and tax credits. This means the average 5kW residential system costs $15,000 to $25,000.
Solar panel prices differ based on their make, model and efficiency. Higher efficiency panels tend to be more expensive, but they require fewer panels to produce the same amount of electricity. It’s also worth evaluating the amount of electricity you use on a daily basis, as well as how much your utility charges for each kilowatt-hour.
A residential solar system typically pays for itself within 6-9 years depending on energy usage, state incentives and financing options. SolarReviews offers a free solar cost and savings calculator that can help estimate your potential energy costs and system size. Ultimately, the biggest expense with any home solar system is the installation and purchase of the actual panels.
Homeowners who purchase a solar energy system will save a great deal on their electricity bills. In addition, they can save money by selling excess power back to their utility companies. These savings can significantly offset the initial investment in a solar system.
A residential solar energy system is composed of several panels that are mounted on a roof or project site. These panels convert sunlight into electric energy using silicon semiconductors. The energy is stored in batteries or sent to a home through an inverter, where it can be used to power appliances and equipment. This includes devices such as lights, fans, air conditioners and TVs.
Depending on your location, you may be able to generate enough electricity from solar energy to cover your entire annual power consumption. In some cases, you can also sell excess electricity back to the grid for a significant amount of cash.
If you can generate enough energy, you can even function entirely off-grid with a solar system. This is especially helpful if you live in an area with high electricity rates or volatile prices. You can also maximize energy savings by incorporating solar battery systems, which will help shift your usage during time-of-use rates and power outages. These additional components add to the cost of your system, but they can reduce the payback period for a solar installation.
One of the major benefits of home solar energy systems is a federal tax credit. This credit (also known as the Residential Clean Energy Credit) reduces the amount of income taxes you owe by up to 30 percent of your solar system cost. This is a great incentive for homeowners considering the purchase of a solar power system, and it’s important to understand how this credit works before you make your decision.
The federal tax credit is available through 2034, and it is applied to your annual income tax return. You can claim this credit if you are the owner of the solar system, which means you either own it or have an agreement such as a lease or power purchase agreement that makes you the legal owner. If you receive rebates from your utility company for installing a solar power system, those subsidies must be subtracted from the total system costs in order to calculate the federal tax credit.
Some states also offer upfront rebates for homeowners that install a solar energy system. These state-level incentives can significantly lower the cost of a system and help make solar cell manufacturer solar an even more compelling option for homeowners. For example, New York state offers a variety of incentives for homeowners to consider, including the NY-Sun program and the Community Shared Renewables Initiative.
Solar energy systems require little maintenance to operate, but like any other piece of equipment, they can experience malfunctions. Thankfully, most manufacturers offer warranties on their solar panels, inverters, batteries, and racking. Homeowners should familiarize themselves with these warranties to understand what the costs associated with a repair or replacement are.
One common concern homeowners have is losing electricity during extreme weather or other unexpected events. A backup battery can help address this problem by storing excess energy and using it to power the house during an outage. This option is also useful for those who live in states with less sunlight during the winter months.
Another potential issue is the physical condition of solar panels, which may become dirty from debris or snow. It’s recommended that homeowners clean their solar panel system regularly to ensure they remain efficient. Generally, this is achieved by pouring lukewarm water on panels, allowing it to rinse, then squeezing away any residue so it doesn’t refreeze.
SolarSet’s Toews often gets questions about the durability of solar panels, specifically their ability to withstand hail damage. He notes that most of their installations are based on monocrystalline solar panels, which are more expensive but can withstand larger hail and are less prone to degradation from heat. Other homeowners prefer to utilize thin-film panels, but these are typically made from cadmium telluride (CdTe), which is considered toxic to the environment.