In the last decade, the cost of oil and gas has exponentially increased. As a result, the majority of American homes are now energy independent which means they no longer need to purchase petroleum based products to satisfy their energy needs. One such product is solar power. While the idea of living sans electricity may seem enticing, there are a number of challenges that you need to overcome before you can truly live a fossil fuel-free lifestyle. This article will discuss one method of generating solar energy and how California homeowners have embraced this new energy source.
Challenge #1: Where Do I Put The Solar Panels?
The first major hindrance to adopting a fully powered-by-solar technology lifestyle is where do I put the solar panels? You cannot simply slap any old solar panel onto your roof and expect it to generate electricity in sufficient quantities to power your home since there are a number of factors that determine how much electricity you will generate. Most solar manufacturers will walk you through a step-by-step process to determine how much power you will produce given a certain panel size and how many sun days you will have annually. To truly harness the power of the sun, you need to maximize the output of your solar panels.
Challenge #2: What Type Of Battery Do I Use?
Just as with any other new technology, there are a number of alternatives when it comes to solar batteries. Every home is unique and, thus, has different energy needs. Your solar battery manufacturer will walk you through a number of options that are tailored to your specific needs. The most common solar battery is the 12 volt lead acid battery which can be quite heavy and, thus, difficult to install. Other options include the lighter 10.8 volt lithium battery or the 9.6 volt sodium-iodide battery. When selecting a solar battery, it is very important to consider your application because some batteries are better suited for certain tasks than others. For instance, the 12 volt lead acid battery is great for powering emergency equipment given that it can store more energy than usual batteries and, thus, be recharged more quickly. The 9.6 volt sodium-iodide battery is ideal for storing energy that you can use later when the sun is not directly above your roof or if you don’t have sufficient sunlight throughout the year (in northern areas). In most cases, your solar battery manufacturer will have technical support people available to assist you via email or over the phone if you have any questions regarding the installation of your solar system.
Challenge #3: How Much Does It Cost?
This is a challenge that anyone who is serious about switching to a fossil fuel-free lifestyle will face. The cost of installing a solar-powered system is not insignificant and can range between $15,000 and $25,000. In some cases, your electricity bill can double which makes it very worthwhile. The main financial obstacle is the equipment itself which, aside from the solar panels, will cost you around $10,000. In sunny northern California, it is not unusual to see homeowners spending considerably more than $25,000 on their solar system. This is because the price reduces significantly once you pass the 40 watt threshold. Calculate how much money you will save annually by cutting the electric bill and you will have the answer to this question. In some situations, the payback period can be as short as two years. This is because the price of solar energy continues to decline and, thus, makes it easier to pay back in such a short time period.
Challenge #4: Will The Solar Panels Fit In My Yard?
If you have a large yard, you may be tempted to mount several solar panels outside on the grass to capture maximum sunshine. While this may seem like a logical step and it is certainly better than nothing, placing solar panels on the exterior of your roof is not advisable. External panels are more susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions than standard roof panels. Furthermore, if the weather is bad, you will have a significant amount of lost energy.
Challenge #5: How Do I Transport My Equipment?
Just like any other new technology, there are multiple options when it comes to solar equipment. Most people use either their car or their bike to transport their equipment from one place to another. Whether you use a truck, a van, or an SUV, you will have one wheeler or another to transport your solar panels and/or battery bank. Make sure that you bring your own tools to do this work because most truck stops will not have the necessary equipment. If you are considering a residential solar project, make sure to shop around for the best price since it is not unusual for homeowners to get wholesale pricing due to the volume of solar energy they will be generating.
How Do I Start Generating Solar Energy?
Once you have determined that solar energy is the right choice for your home, you will need to figure out how to get started. As previously stated, the price and the type of battery you use will govern the overall cost of your project. Once you have that taken care of, you can move on to the next step which is the installation of the actual panels.
In some states, such as California, you do not need a permit to install solar panels. However, in other states, such as New York, you will need to get a permit before you can begin installing the panels. In most situations, you will have to contact the city or county building department to get the permit. Once you have that permit, you can move on to the installation phase which, depending on how big your yard is, can be either easy or difficult to complete. You will need to dig a trench for the cables to go in and then bury them at least three feet underground where they will not be damaged by water or extreme weather conditions. In some cases, your solar panel manufacturer will provide you with the proper trenching tools so that the installation process is as easy and streamlined as possible. In most cases, you will need to do a little homework and buy these tools yourself.
As for the actual installation of the panels, there are multiple options. Some prefer to go from the ground up while others choose to go from the roof down. The choice is yours. Make sure to do your research on the best way to go about this because it will affect the ease of the process significantly. If you have a small yard or someone else’s yard you are sharing, go from the ground up since it is much easier to replace a couple of panels than it is to make a full house renovation. As for the orientation of the panels, if you have a southern exposure, place the panels facing south so that you will get the most sunlight throughout the year. If you have a northern exposure, place the panels so that they face east or west to maximize the number of sun hours throughout the year.
Once the panels are up, you will need to connect them to a battery bank which is either charged through a solar power system or bought separately. From there, you can connect the battery bank to either your home’s electricity system or a standalone power system which supplies electricity to electric devices such as kettles, hairdryers, water heaters, etc. In most cases, the standalone power system can be quite expensive and, thus, is generally used only by large commercial buildings.
The Advantages Of A Solar-Powered Home
If you have decided that a solar-powered technology lifestyle fits with your home, the next step is to examine the advantages that this option provides. First and foremost, you will be saving a lot of money on your energy bills which, in turn, will allow you to save a lot of money in your wallet. In most cases, the payback period on a solar-powered system is between three and five years. This makes it a very sound investment considering the rising cost of oil and gas combined with the steadily decreasing price of solar energy. Furthermore, you will be doing your part to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil which is a great way of showing your patriotism.
Last but not least, a solar-powered system provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to generating electricity. This is because you can set the system up to generate as much or as little electricity as you need whenever you need it. You can also disconnect the system from the electricity grid when you are not using it so that you do not overload the system or the grid. The best part is that you can reconnect the system whenever you want and generate as much electricity as you need when the sun is shining brightly.
This article will end with a suggestion as to how you can start generating solar energy. Keep reading for more information.