Solar panels are widely considered the way of the future – completely sustainable and environmentally friendly, this technology will hopefully put a stop on using powerplants as a means of supplying our homes with power somewhere down the line. For now, however, things are still far from perfect, and even homes that get a lot of sunlight still require other sources of energy. Solar panels are definitely beneficial for your environment, so here’s all you need to know about them.
Although the technology of solar panels may appear brand-new, it has been around for quite some time now. In fact, the first practical silicon solar cell was demonstrated way back in 1954 by Bell Labs. Unfortunately, the solar panel technology needs to advance and develop further in order to reach its full potential.
Photovoltaic (PV) systems may sound like quite a mouthful, but the term is technically just a fancy way of saying ‘solar panel systems’. Solar systems convert sunlight into electricity that can be further used for powering one’s home. A typical PV installation involves panels, constructed of a huge number of individual silicon-based photovoltaic cells (hence the name), their support structures, an inverter, electrical conduit piping and AC/DC disconnect switches.
There’s a reason why most companies offer 20 plus years of solar performance warranty on photovoltaic systems – they are built to last and are highly durable. Even though it might not appear so, solar panels are made of tempered glass that is able to withstand snow, rain, high winds and even hail. This means that the maintenance of photovoltaic systems boils down to washing and cleaning, and that only in extreme circumstances. What’s more, solar panels are so durable that they can even extend the life of your roof, protecting it from the typical daily wear and tear.
To put it simply, solar systems are tied to the electric grid – they don’t require batteries for storing power. Installing a solar energy system on your property does not disconnect you from the electricity grid. Should your system produce more electricity than you need, you will receive credit for what you’ve sent to the grid. It also works vice-versa; if you need more electricity than your photovoltaic system is producing, you draw it from the grid.
Should you install solar panels?
There is no concrete answer for this question; it all depends on where you are located. However, most locations in Australia, the United States and Europe receive a sufficient amount of sunlight, which allows them to produce enough electricity by using solar panels.
Regardless of the side of the world your house might be facing, as long as there aren’t any tall buildings around it, you can make it work, as a photovoltaic system can be placed basically anywhere.
Is installing solar panels worth it?
Well, these systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars to install and, despite all the benefits, may not be a perfect solution for those who are looking to save on power. On the other hand, the homeowners that opt for installing solar panels on their rooftops can sleep peacefully, knowing that as long as the sun shines, they will have power, without having to generate harmful emissions.
Of course, we’re talking about a full-blown solar-powered house here. Keep in mind that there are cheaper alternatives that fit everyone’s pocket. For instance, a 5kw solar system costs less than $4,000 in total, yet it will help you save as much as $1,800 per year.
Less demanding applications, such as heating water for your home or swimming pool require nothing more than a black copper or aluminum absorber plate, tied into the building’s plumbing and electrical works – a rather practical use for solar panels.
Solar panels are a well-proven technology that has been around for more than half a century now and we still have to find a way to utilize their full potential. Durable and effective, these low-maintenance systems might be expensive, but they can also save you a lot of money in the long run. If your home gets enough sunlight annually, you should definitely go for it.