Everything You Need To Know About Solar Panels

Guest Post by Agostina Chemello

If you’re looking for a better and less expensive way to power your house, you should go solar. Residential solar panels transform sunlight into electricity for your home. Solar panels can help you reduce your electric bill or even eliminate it.

Solar panels do require an up-front investment, but you can recover the initial cost, and more, over time. Remember that the more electricity you usually use, the sooner you can recoup your investment by going solar

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), about 600,000 U.S. homeowners currently enjoy solar energy, and use is growing world-wide. Solar panels are becoming a progressively more popular option.

Solar panels are also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Converting to solar energy helps our planet Earth move toward a more sustainable future. Traditional energy pollutes while solar energy is clean and renewable.

Since solar panels are becoming more popular and have had great technological advancements, the prices have dropped. Going solar can be really affordable.

To know if solar energy is right for you, consider your home’s location, how long you’ll remain in your home, your current electric bill, and if there are any financial incentives available.

How Solar Panels Work

Solar panels are made from tempered glass. They’re installed on a rack system on your rooftop, and an inverter system generates electricity for your home.

Your system may include a bi-directional meter that measures the power produced and the amount you use. The system’s monitoring system lets you see the amount of energy your panels produce daily and can also notify you if there’s any problem with a panel.

Remember, solar energy may eliminate your energy bill. What’s more, you may be able to sell any excess power you produce back to your electric company if they participate in such a plan.

Benefits of Solar Panels

There are many reasons to go solar, including reducing your carbon footprint and saving money.

Solar Saves Money

If you dread paying your monthly electricity bill, solar energy is definitely an option you should consider. Going solar could drastically reduce your payments to your present electric supplier and might even eliminate them completely.

You may even be able to make some money from your solar panels. You could be paid for extra power your panels produce.

Check with your electric company to see if they have a buy-back energy metering program and offer solar renewable energy credits. These kinds of plans let you make money by sharing the excess electricity your solar system generates. Imagine having the electric company pay you instead of the other way around!

Solar Has Low Maintenance Costs

Solar rooftop panels require little maintenance, especially if they’re tilted. They may need an occasional light cleaning with a leaf blower or garden hose in the warmer months. In the winter, the panels may need to be cleared off after a heavy snowfall.

Panels installed on the ground may need the same periodic maintenance, but they are even easier to keep clean because they’re on your level.

Solar Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

Solar energy is clean and renewable. It’s the perfect way to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions coming from your property. Producing solar electricity does not create pollutants and is even more eco-friendly than nuclear energy.

Solar Considerations

There are some things to consider before you go solar. For instance, how long do you plan to stay in your home? How long will the panels last? And how much should you budget for buying or leasing your solar panels?

Keep in mind that solar energy is a long-term investment, so consider how long you’ll live in your home. It could take seven or more years for you to recover the purchase cost through energy savings.

Installation Costs

Look for a professional company to install your panels. The cost of both panels and installation vary by region and according to the type of system you want installed.

As with any major home-improvement investment, take time to do your research. Find reputable companies that are licensed and insured, and then compare the costs of their services.

How Long Do Panels Last?

Solar panels are made to last from 25 to 35 years. Rest assured you will be able to enjoy their energy-saving benefits for a long time before you need to replace them.

Can Your Roof Hold Solar Panels?

Before committing to going solar, do some homework on your own roof’s age and materials. Installing solar panels consists of mounting a connected racking system directly onto your roof, and not all roofs are suitable.

If your roof isn’t a candidate for panels, but you have the room in your yard, you can have panels installed on the ground.

Again, it’s important to work with a reputable, licensed solar energy company to ensure you get the best system for your situation and needs.

Climate and Weather

The amount of sun that hits your roof and its orientation to the sun can impact how much energy your solar panel system generates each day. The more sun and less shade your roof has, the more power those panels can produce.

Of course this is excellent news for homeowners in sunny regions. But even if you don’t live in the sunniest area, you can still enjoy the benefits of solar power by employing a little ingenuity in the placement of your panels. A reputable solar company will definitely be able to help you maximize your system.

Cost of Solar Panels

The cost of installing solar panels will depend upon a number of factors including the area you live in, the number of panels you need, the system’s size, and the type of installation (roof or ground).

Paying for Your Solar Panel System

There are a couple of ways to start taking advantage of this earth-friendly energy source: you can buy your solar panel system outright or lease it. Both methods have pros and cons.

Advantages of Leasing Your Solar Panel System

Some homeowners choose to lease their solar electric systems. Leasing lets you go solar without incurring high up-front costs. Leasing lets you install solar panels and start saving right away.

You may have numerous finance options when leasing. For instance, you can pay the leasing company for the equipment and use as much energy as you want, or you can pay the solar company based on monthly kilowatt-hours used.

Some leasing companies also offer the option of buying the panel system at the end of your lease. Financing and leasing options will vary depending on where you live.

Talk to your solar company representative to find out what leasing options, if any, they offer.

Disadvantages of Leasing

While there are definite pluses to leasing your solar electric system, there are also some drawbacks.

Solar leasing contracts can typically last up to 20 years or longer, so they are definitely a long-term investment. Make sure your long-range plans fit with the terms of your lease. And be sure to read your contract thoroughly so you know what to expect should you have to move unexpectedly before the end of the lease term.

Leasing your solar system may also make you ineligible for tax benefits or rebates. Since these benefits are widely promoted, do your homework to make sure you don’t end up disappointed that you don’t qualify for them because you are leasing your solar system.

Despite these drawbacks, leasing can be a great way to save money on your solar system while doing your part for the planet.

Advantages of Owning Your Solar Panel Sytem

There are definite advantages to owning your solar panel system. One of the biggest pluses is that many governments or electric companies offer incentives for installing this green energy source. Tax breaks and/or rebates can help reduce the initial investment cost of going solar.

Owning your solar system also means you’re not tied to a years-long lease contract nor any of its terms and conditions.

Owning your system also gives you more options. If you decide to sell your home, your solar energy system can be a great selling point and increase the home’s value. Or you can take the solar system to your new home because it belongs to you.

Disadvantages of Owning

There are some downsides to buying your own solar panel system. The most obvious disadvantage is the up-front investment required. If you usually don’t have a hefty electric bill, it will take longer to recoup your costs.

If you own your solar panels and monitoring system, you will also be solely responsible for maintaining and repairing (or replacing) the system when parts fail or need fixing.

Solar is the Future

Installing solar panels is an Earth-friendly option, but it’s wise to consider all factors before going solar. It is definitely an investment, but worth adding value to your home as you help make this a greener planet.


Guest author Agostina Chemello works for Porch.com, a home services platform that connects homeowners with local home improvement contractors. It’s the leading destination for professional installation, assembly, repair, maintenance, moving, and other home services from quality pros.