So you’re interested in going solar. Great! But let’s face facts: Going solar isn’t as easy as it seems. There are a lot of potential pitfalls out there, and you need to be aware of them before you commit.
To that end, let’s start with the basics. What is solar power, and how does it work?
What is Solar Power?
Put simply, solar power is the production of electrical energy by using solar cells (or modules) to convert the energy of the sun. Photovoltaic cells are typically made of silicon or other materials, and depending on the level of efficiency, can generate from a few watts up to hundreds of watts of power. That wattage varies based on the size of the system and the location of the cell in relation to the sun — the higher up you go, the more watts of power you’ll get. A typical wattage range for a small residential solar system is between 5 and 20 watts.
Why Choose Solar Power?
There are a number of good reasons why you might choose solar power instead of traditional electricity. The main one has to do with cost. Depending on your location, the cost of energy from the grid can vary from pennies to a few dollars per day. With solar power, on the other hand, you’re paying for what you use — it doesn’t make financial sense to keep powering something that you don’t need.
Another plus point of going solar is the flexibility that it offers. Since the energy is produced on-site and used immediately, you have the ability to cut back or stop the flow of electricity at any time. If you’re worried about running out of electricity during the day, you can invest in a solar battery that stores energy in the afternoon so you can get some use out of it during the day when the sun is at its peak.
The Pros & Cons of Going Solar
While there are undoubtedly a number of plusses to going solar, there are also a few potential drawbacks. One of the main ones has to do with the physical size of the system. If you want to go solar and live in an area where space is at a premium, you might have trouble finding room for an oversized solar panel system. You can solve this problem by using several smaller units that connect together, or you can build an entire roof made of solar panels — but for some, this solution might not be suitable.
The second downside to going solar relates to energy production. Because solar power is generated by the sun itself, you have no way of knowing exactly how much energy you’ll get each day. Weather conditions, such as cloud cover and sunlight intensity, can significantly impact the output of a solar cell or module. In some cases, this can cause an annual energy production drop as much as 30% or more.
Given all of this, going solar is not for everybody. However, if you live in an area where space is no object and you’re worried about running out of electricity in the middle of the night, then solar power might be the perfect alternative for you.
How to Make the Switch to Solar Power
Going solar is easier than you’d think. In fact, there are a variety of ways that you can make the switch today. For one, you can purchase an entire house solar system from a reputable company such as SolarCity. When it comes to buying a home power system, you need to look for what is called an “off-grid” system. This type of setup allows you to generate your own electricity and use it whenever you need it. If you live in an area where electricity is regularly generated by the grid, you can purchase a grid-tie system.
If you live in a region where energy prices are high, you can consider going solar with a small — but efficient — system. These types of setups allow you to save a lot of money over the course of a year. You’ll also only produce the amount of energy you need, which in turn could reduce your energy bills.
In most cases, going solar does not require a lot of technical know-how. In fact, depending on your location and what type of system you decide to purchase, you might not need to touch a plug the entire process. With the price of solar power decreasing daily, more and more people are getting behind the scenes to help save the environment by reducing their energy bills. If you’re intrigued, then consider going solar. Just remember to think things through carefully before making a final decision.