Looking to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your electricity bills at the same time? Why not consider generating your own electricity using the free sun energy that shines down on us? It’s a way to become power-independent and stop paying energy bills that increase every year.
In a nutshell, solar energy is perfectly sustainable, eco-friendly energy that’s gained popularity as the cost of solar power has decreased. If you’re curious about the many forms that energy can take, this article will introduce you to solar energy in a nutshell.
History Of Solar Energy
It’s easy to understand why solar energy has surged in popularity in recent years. After all, the cost of solar power has decreased which has made it more accessible to a wider audience. Additionally, energy companies recognized the benefits that solar energy has to offer and have taken steps to promote it.
Prior to the 20th century, most people obtained most of their energy from fossil fuels (like oil and coal) which are gradually depleting. The cost of energy was therefore steadily increasing. Then, in the early 20th century, the oil industry began experimenting with photovoltaics – the science of turning light into electricity.
While conducting experiments, scientists discovered that converting light into electricity using the sun’s energy is more efficient than using electricity generated by traditional methods. The oil industry took note and began implementing solar energy projects across the world. The energy industry now provides all kinds of equipment and services related to solar energy, including photovoltaics, solar thermal power, and solar energy systems.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Depending on the type of setup you choose, you can put a solar energy system in any location that has ample sun exposure. Roofs and walls are the most popular surfaces since they provide plenty of room for installing panels and can keep temperatures cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Additionally, these surfaces are more accessible than other options (such as the ground) since you can’t really build anything on the ground. However, if you live in a cooler location, you might want to consider other options such as lakes, ponds, or open spaces near water. These locations provide a greater chance of collecting water for cooling.
Once you have your location and a general idea of the layout of your home, you can begin gathering the materials you need for implementation. These materials include solar paneling (solar rooftop tiles or photovoltaic shingles), a battery bank, and wires. Many companies also provide readymade kits that include everything you need (plus installation and connection to the grid).
Where Can I Put My Solar Panels?
If you have a roof, you can put solar panels on it! Tiles are the most popular and simplest form of solar paneling. They’re also the most accessible since they’re just as easy to install as shingles and can be used with existing roof shapes. Most homeowners choose to install tiles on their roof for the following reasons:
- They’re easy to install
- They’re affordable
- They don’t require any specific training to use
- They offer protection from the elements
If none of the above apply, you can choose between photovoltaic shingles or solar panels made of polycarbonate. While shingles offer a more affordable solution and can be used with existing roof types, polycarbonate solar panels provide protection from the elements and are easy to install.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar Energy?
The cost to install solar energy depends on several factors including the size of your roof and the products you choose. You can expect to pay around $15,000 for the basic installation (it’s worth noting that installation includes materials and labor). For a complete solar-powered battery system that integrates energy storage and microgeneration, the cost is approximately $25,000.
Additionally, the cost increases if you want to optimize the performance of your solar energy system since the more electricity you generate, the cheaper your energy bills will be. However, this is completely dependent on your state’s solar energy policy and whether you choose to sell your excess electricity to the grid or use it yourself.
What Are My Solar Energy System’s Maintenance Costs?
Maintenance costs for your solar energy system depend on several factors including how often you need to service it and what type of service you need. For example, you might want to check for leaks before the winter months or in case one of the components malfunctions. If you have a few panels and are doing everything manually, this might only cost you around $200 per year (plus the cost of the occasional part).
However, if you have a large system with many components, this might cost you a bit more. Nonetheless, even then it’s still a relatively affordable option compared to traditional energy sources. Additionally, since most solar energy systems are built on top of your roof, they’re protected from the elements and therefore require little to no maintenance.
Is It Worth It?
It depends on your personal circumstances. If you live in a warmer climate and want to cut back on your carbon footprint, you can certainly achieve this goal through solar energy. Since you’re not connected to the grid and the sun is free, your energy will come entirely from the rays that shine down on us. This way, you can be sure that you’re not contributing to the pollution that comes with conventional energy sources.
Additionally, if you live in a warmer climate and want to be able to use more than one source of energy to power your home, you can achieve this goal through solar energy. Simply connect your home to the grid using any of the above and your energy will come from both the grid and the sun. However, if you live in a cooler climate and want to be able to use less than one source of energy to power your home, it might not be worth it (plus you’ll have to find a way to cool down your house in the summer). Nonetheless, for those living in warmer climates, solar energy is certainly a cost-effective and eco-friendly option.
Furthermore, if you have a large area of roof that can accommodate some solar panels (like the one shown in the graphic above), you can generate enough electricity to power your home while lowering your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation!
The Bottom Line
Depending on your personal circumstances, the cost of solar energy might not be enough to make it worthwhile. Nonetheless, for most people, the cost-effectiveness and eco-friendliness of solar energy make it a no-brainer. After all, we’re continually bombarded by advertisements for energy sources that harm the environment. Therefore, if you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint and becoming more energy-independent, solar energy is a great option. Additionally, if you have a large area of roof that can accommodate some solar panels, you can generate enough electricity to power your home while lowering your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation!