As far as smart financial investments go, installing a home solar energy system is right up there with the best of them. Actually, the question shouldn’t even be whether or not you should use solar energy at home; it should only be ‘how to find the best solar panels for home use?’ As energy prices keep soaring around the country and the world at large, finding better, more efficient and cheaper energy options should be a priority for every homeowner!
Solar energy is the kind of renewable power that can be harnessed from the sun. It is that simple. Using the right kind of solar panels for your home can easily convert sunlight into usable energy. Two main types of energy can be harnessed through the right kind of solar panels:
One of the biggest advantages that come with the use of solar power is that this kind of energy is not only clean and renewable, but it is most probably going to last forever. This is in stark contrast with fossil fuel energy sources which are estimated to keep going for the next 30 or 40 years only as the world’s oil reserves keep dwindling and further exploration causing way too much pollution and environmental destruction.
Solar panels can be a great addition to any home. Saving money, effort and helping the planet. If you are looking to buy or just curious to learn more about them, here is everything you need to know about solar panel living and just how beneficial it can be to you, your bank balance and the entire household.
There is a very good reason why the U.S Military has been advocating for solar power use for years. Have you ever wondered why the most progressive and environmentally friendly companies all insist on setting up solar energy power plants? It is because they know just how beneficial the harnessing of solar power can be to humanity and the planet as a whole. Here are some of the advantages that installing solar panels for home use can bring to your life in general.
With its 20- 25-year warranty and no moving parts, there is virtually no wear and tear on solar panels. Besides changing the inverter and cables every 5-10 years to hold maximum efficiency, really the only thing you need to do is give it a good annual cleaning to keep things running smooth.
How much you save will truly depend on the size of your solar panel and your energy/ heating usage, but no matter what, you are saving. Also, assuming you are connected to the grid, if you generate more electricity than you use, you will receive a bonus check for what is exported back to the grid. So, not only will this device save you money, but it can potentially end up making you money as well.
Solar energy is 100% renewable and accessible every single day. No matter where you are in the world, you will not run out of solar energy. Unlike other energy sources, it will last until we run out of sunlight, which according to scientists won’t be for another 5 billion years. So, we have some time.
There is a good reason why solar power is categorized as a renewable source of energy. As mentioned earlier, unless the sun stops shinning (some 5 billion years from now), there is an excellent chance that it will come up tomorrow. We know exactly when the sun will rise as well as when it will set; this makes harnessing its energy a rather reliable way of life. Although weather changes do affect just how much sunlight we get, weather forecasts give us a predictable indication of the projected amount of sunlight to expect in different locations. This knowledge gives us full control over how much energy we can harness and how to cut back on its use when cloud cover becomes an issue during winter. All this makes solar power one of the most reliable sources of energy yet.
Studies in economy teach us that as long as a necessary resource can be monopolized, then its sale and purchase begins to operate in what is referred to as a sellers’ market. Meaning that the consumers (you) will have to contend with whatever price the seller dictates; and depending on how widespread their monopoly is, those prices can be quite ridiculous and even unattainable. The fuel that drives solar power (the sun) CANNOT be monopolized. It is actually free for everyone to use. Besides needing to buy the other necessary components such as solar panels and inverters (which are carried by a myriad of vendors, so the prices remain highly competitive), there really isn’t much else you need to pay. As soon as you have all these components installed, you essentially have an independent source of energy that is totally controlled by you. This is a powerful way of saving money on oil and gas considering the fact that solar power can run pretty much everything electric power can in the house.
In keeping with the previous point, no one can monopolize the sun. This means that no country, regime or individual can suddenly decide to make solar energy unavailable to another because of whatever disputes, economic or otherwise. Even if gas and oil imports become unsustainably expensive, as they are bound to be, solar power will always be available at a reasonable price. This kind of energy security is why the U.S Military has been advocating for solar power use all these years.
As time marches on, exciting innovations in the field of nanotechnology and quantum physics keep improving. With time, not so far into the future from now, these advancements will exponentially increase the effectiveness of solar energy and greatly improve just how much we can do with our solar panels at home.
Thanks to technological advancements, there is a lot you can do with solar energy. You can easily generate electricity with it (photovoltaic), you could also generate heat (Solar thermal). If you live in an area that does not have access to the electrical grid or you have a cabin up in the mountains somewhere that you would like to power, you can use solar panels to produce electricity for these regions. Once you have the right solar panels for your home installed, you can easily do other things such as distill water in case you do not have access to clean piped water and even power up your appliances.
Even though there are contradicting arguments about global warming and what can be done to stop it, the truth of the matter is that we are slowly but steadily ruining our environment by using fossil fuels. Global warming is quickly becoming a threat to our very way of life, and if we are not careful, it might very well bring about the next extinction event. Widespread use of solar power is one way to try and abate this menace. The more solar panels we install in our homes, the less fossil fuel we would need to burn to power our gadgets. The fact that solar power generation causes almost no global warming pollution has to be one the biggest advantages of using this sort of energy. This makes a very important part of solving this global warming problem.
It is almost inevitable that anything worthwhile will have a flip side to it; some disadvantages that come with acquiring the technology. Although when compared with most other sources of energy, the disadvantages that come with installing solar panels in your home are not as dire as you would think. Still, they are worth mentioning and worth considering. Here are some of the main disadvantages that come with harnessing solar energy for your consideration.
As we all know, something so helpful and innovative is never going to be cheap. The initial cost is going to set you back, but with the technology constantly progressing, there is no telling where it will be in a few years. If you don’t plan on waiting for the price drop, this is a major thing you will need to consider especially if you intend to store the energy harnessed during the day for use later on in the night once the sun has gone down. However, if you think of all the savings you will be making as time goes by, both financial and environmental, this initial cost will not seem as daunting nor as discourage. Plus, once you learn how to find the best solar panels for home use, you will also learn how to identify companies that offer you the best financing options. This can drastically reduce how much initial capital you have to put into your home solar energy power system.
Unless you are going to use your solar energy for nothing more than just charging your phone during the day, you will need a lot of space to install solar panels in your home. Solar panels require a lot of roof space and with that comes a bigger house. The more electricity you want to produce, the more solar panels you will need. Although, there is an alternative of installing in your yard if you don’t have the roof space. The only problem with putting them in your yard is you have to make sure they are in a place that has access to proper sunlight. If this isn’t an option for you, you can always reduce to fewer panels and just cover some of your electrical needs.
The pollution of solar panels is far less compared to other sources of energy, but it’s still something to think about. There are few hazardous and toxic materials used during the production process, and the transportation and installation have been associated with the emission of greenhouse gases. Either way, these are still incomparable to most of the resources we still widely use as energy sources today.
Solar energy can be harnessed on rainy and cloudy days, but the efficiency can drop dramatically depending on the severity of the weather. Solar panels are dependent on sunlight to collect solar energy. Aside from weather conditions, you have to take into account that with needing sunlight, it cannot obtain energy at night.
In order to efficiently use your harnessed solar energy, you need to find ways to ensure that it is still available to you even after the sun goes down or during winter months. The best way to do this is to store the harnessed energy in large batteries. In many cases, these batteries are used in almost all off-the-grid solar systems. Although there are exceptionally beneficial and efficient, they are also quite expensive as far as procurement is concerned. To a great extent, it is better to make use of solar energy during the day when the sun is up and your power needs are increased and then switch back to the grid at night. The problem with this option is that it is not exactly viable for people who don’t have their homes connected to the grid. Therefore, the initial costs of setting up your home solar power system can be a bit daunting and discouraging for most people.
It is clear that the world needs to focus on renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels. Not only is this good for the environment, but it is also good for your bank balance. An astonishing fact to consider is that the sun produces in one minute, all the energy that the world would need to consume in one year! Yes, the sun is that powerful. In fact, in just 24 hours, our sun can generate more energy than we would ever need for the next 27 years. But to harness this energy, you would need to find the right solar panels for home use. With that in mind, here are the different kinds of solar panels available for your consideration.
There are different factors that you need to take into account when categorizing types of solar panels that can be used at home. The very first and most important factor that you need to consider is the fact that your location is a huge issue in determining the kind of solar panel that you will need as well as the kind of solar energy you can harness. This is evidenced by the fact that sunlight can be used in different ways when on Earth as opposed to how it is used when in space.
The main differentiation in solar panels often includes differentiating between these two types:
However, these two categories fall into first, second or third generation solar panels. The single or multi-junction angle mainly focuses on and differs in the number of solar panel layers that will observe sunlight. The generational difference, on the other hand, focuses on and differs in the type of materials used to make the panel as well as their individual efficiency levels.
These are commonly used in conventional surroundings and are the traditional types of solar panels. They are made out of monocrystalline silicon or polysilicon.
These have a uniform dark look and the rounded edges. The purity of monocrystalline silicon gives some of the highest efficiency rates with upwards of 20%. This is the most expensive, but you get what you pay for with less space needed, high output and longer life.
These are easily recognizable for their square shape and blue, speckled look. Polycrystalline is made by melting raw silicon, which ends up being a faster and cheaper than monocrystalline panels. This brings the overall price down but with an average of 15% output, lower space efficiency, and a shorter lifespan. Aside from these minor differences, the power output is basically the same. It all depends on your specific wants and needs.
These are made from different types of thin film solar cells and are mainly used for photovoltaic power stations, integrated into buildings or smaller solar power systems.
Thin-film is a less expensive option. They are manufactured by placing one or more films of photovoltaic material (such as silicon, cadmium or copper) onto a substrate. They are the easiest solar panels to produce and end up being much cheaper due to less material that is used. They are also flexible which makes them more versatile and are much less affected by high temperatures. However, they have a shorter lifespan and take up a lot of space making them less desirable for residential installations.
This type of solar panel uses a triple layered technology, which is the best of the thin film variety. They are most commonly used in pocket calculators. With a 7% efficiency rate, these cells are less effective but come out to a much lower cost.
Most 3rd Gens are still in the research or development phase but use a variety of thin film technologies. These are the only solar panels that generate electricity by introducing organic materials, although some still use inorganic substances.
This solar panel is at a much lower cost due to utilizing Cadmium Telluride which is a stable crystalline compound formed from cadmium and tellurium. It also requires least amount of water in production. This all adds up to have a shorter payback time and keeps your carbon footprint as low as possible. Although it is a great solar panel option, Cadmium Telluride can be very toxic if ingested or inhaled making it a less desirable product.
This type of solar panel has an efficiency rate up to 41%, which is the highest possible of all photovoltaic systems. The only issue is they can only be this efficient if they face the sun at a perfect angle, but a built-in tracker allows them to follow the sun, so they have optimal efficiency. They also have a distinct look with curved metal faces and sometimes even a cooling system that traps the sun rays making it that much more efficient.
This solar panel is still in the research phase because of the advanced idea behind it. The expert team at Vanderbilt University want to try and recreate the natural process of photosynthesis. This would be a revolutionary advancement in solar panel technology. These conversions from chemical to electrical energy will be up to 1000 times more efficient than 1st generation types of solar panels.
Technology that converts sunshine into usable thermal energy is called solar heating and cooling or SHC. Solar heating and cooling collects natural, clean energy that is virtually free. About 75% of residential energy consumption in the US is related to water heating, space heating, and space cooling. Utilizing a solar thermal panel can make a significant difference in being an environmentally sustainable solution to these everyday uses. If you combine a solar air and water heating system you can reduce your CO2 footprint more than 60%. Assuming this will catch on, and more people will implement this into their lives in the future, solar thermal panels will make a huge impact on global warming. Consisting of mostly copper, aluminum, steel, and/or polymers, it is non-toxic and recyclable.
The Thermal panels typically use water or air to transfer heat from the solar collector into the home or business. Energy storage can also be used to provide heat when there is no sunshine or at night.
The sun produces endless free energy unlike oil, propane, and natural gas which will continue to rise in price as they diminish in availability. Also, not using these harmful resources will reduce the amount of air pollution and greenhouse gases that you emit.
Harnessing the suns light will not only help you save on heat in the winter; solar space heating systems can also heat domestic hot water. The average American household’s energy bill is made up of 40% or more just in home and water heating. Having a solar heating system can give you peace of mind that you aren’t just depleting all your money on these simple everyday uses.
The way this heating system works is by the solar collectors circulating a fluid (usually corn glycol) through the solar array, where it is then heated and transferred back into your solar storage tank. Working directly with your existing hydronic heating system. Then as the heated fluid is circulated through the storage tank, it heats the water inside. This causes less use or need for your existing heating system and your water to be warmed by free energy provided by the sun.
Having a solar pool heater is definitely a new and innovative way to save money and go green but what else is there to really know about it? How does it work? Is it even worth it?
The most common type of solar pool heater is an array of polypropylene or PP veined mats that are spanned between two feed pipes. These mats are also known as collectors and are laid out in direct sunlight to absorb its heat. As water is pumped through the mat’s veins, heat is transferred from the polypropylene mat to the water. This water is then transferred back to your pool, providing you with the perfect temperature.
Another type of solar pool heater is the glazed panel heater. They are aluminum backed panels with copper piping sandwiched between tempered glass shields. They are a lot less common being twice the price but also a lot more efficient in transferring heat.
Just because you have the money to buy one does not mean you have the optimal layout to house one. You have to take into consideration the space you have, the amount of sun exposure it will get and the amount of proximity to the pump. Solar panels require proper planning to ensure they are in the best location to soak up the sun’s rays. The choice position for a solar panel is on a house’s roof facing true south. This is where it will absorb the most light. Although this position is best, you still have to make sure it is within reach of your pump. With this being much information to remember, many places will assist in installing your pools solar panels, making sure it is in a place of highest function.
There are tons of solar panel kits with a wide range in price; it all depends on what you are looking for.
This will set you back about $3,000, but it is worth the price. It runs silently, and there is no fuel needed causing no obnoxious fumes. It has a digital display that shows power source and your current available power. The PowerPak provides up to 1800-Watts of pure power and a 1.5W solar battery maintainer for when the generator is not in use. This is nice because if you use less power than you generate, it can be stored for later use. Finally, it comes with a luggage style handcart to take the generator anywhere you go.
Coming in a little less at about $2,800, this is still a great machine. The Solar Power Station has a 1500-watt incremental lithium energy center that can power any appliances such as a whole fridge/freezer or even recharge 12-volt batteries directly from its panels. The universal Inverter has two grounded 120-volt AC plugs, 2 USB plugs, 2 AC adapter barrel plugs and AC wall charger so you can recharge from inside your home. Plus, the 120-Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panels fold in half and come with a carrying case for easy transportation.
At about $1,100, this thing is ideal for running small pumps and lights or charging your portable electronic devices. The 1,800-watt Grape Solar inverter comes with two outlets and a USB port which allows you to plug in small devices. Its polycrystalline panel features a two diode junction box for enhanced performance and a 35 Amp Xantrex charge controller. The only downside to this product is that a battery is not included and a minimum of one 12 Volt deep cycle battery is necessary to use it.
This device is a little over $1,000 and comes with high efficiency crystalline solar panels. It is completely weatherproof for added durability and can easily connect to other kits for more power. Best used for 12-volt battery charging or larger appliances. The coolest part about it is it can be used in remote locations, so you can virtually bring it anywhere. It comes with 2 x 85-watt solar panels, 30 A digital charge controller, 200 W inverter, wiring, brackets, screws, and a voltage tester.
Amazing product for the price at about $700 and this is my best choice for the average household. It is designed specifically for customers new to solar being incredibly easy to install with pre-drilled holes on panels and Z brackets for fast mounting and securing. It can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in 3 hours (if in good sunlight). The HQST is best for off-grid applications, such as RVs, trailers, boats, sheds, and cabins. It comes with four 100W 12V monocrystalline solar panels, a 40A MPPT charge controller, a pair of 20 ft. 10 AWG adaptor cables, four sets of Z-brackets, and all necessary mounting hardware. Also comes with a 25 years power output warranty, so you truly get your money’s worth.
If you are not willing to pay the $700, this is another great starter kit at a little over $300. Super user-friendly and still comes with high efficiency 100-Watt monocrystalline solar panels. At 1000Wh per day, it can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in 1.5 hours which is half the time of the more expensive HQST. The kit also now includes an 8ft 10AWG tray cable to connect your charge controller and battery.
At only about $180, the Komaes can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in 3 hours (depends on sunlight availability). This is the same amount of time that the HQST would take but at a fraction of the price! The PV solar panel diodes are pre-installed in the junction box, and a pair of 30 inches cables with MC4 connectors comes with the panel automatically. Being able to withstand heavy snow and strong winds, this is a wonderful product. Even being able to highly perform in low lights. With a 25 year warranty, you are guaranteed to get the most life out of this product. This kit includes 20A PWM charge controller, one pair 20ft 5AWG Tray Cable and one pair 20Ft 5AWG Adaptor Kit MC4 Solar Cable.
With solar energy becoming more and more popular, many brands and companies are jumping on the bandwagon of distributing solar powered products. Some of the most common products are:
These plus tons of other cool products can help you save money by spending less on energy costs and help the planet while doing it. There are so many uses for solar energy, and the list is growing every day.
If solar panels intrigue you, but you don’t want to spend much, consider getting a mini. These panels can power smaller devices such as your cell phone and some small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. This is a much lower cost depending on how many devices you want to charge.
Before you buy a factory-prebuilt solar charger or set one up yourself, you should know the power consumption of the devices you need to sustain. Cell phones use a fraction of a watt, and tablet PCs use less than 3 watts. Other small devices such as a GPS shouldn’t be more than 3 watts and are easy to look up with its specs.
With there being so many to choose from, buying can be pretty overwhelming. Below I have included some of the best portable solar panels on the market.
Although it seems a little awkward when spread out like a windshield sun blocker, the series of eyeholes around the body allow for this to be attached to backpacks, hung from branches, or really any place you please. The small quadruple panels give it a unique flexibility while still also capable of pushing out 16 Watts at two amps when placed in direct sunlight. With a monocrystalline PET body, the entire device resists scratches and abuse for years of full-powered output. This is a great product that won’t cost you more than $50.
When completely folded up, the Mercury 10 is no bigger than a tablet making it compact but not too small or underpowered. As the name implies, it pumps out 10 Watts worth of energy via the dual USB ports which work for most modern electronics.
The feathery feel comes at the expense of a rechargeable battery, but get an external one, and you’ll be ready to go. Three panels catch lots of light for quick power output. All the power and at the cost of $40.
Portable solar chargers are hit and miss when it comes to which devices they will recognize and which they will charge properly. Not so with the hyper-intelligent PowerIQ built right into this accordion-style folder from Anker. It automatically detects the right output to give your equipment enough juice and minimize charge time. The four panels combine to create a 14-watt monocrystalline solar array that gives you two amps when laid in direct sunlight. Wrapped up, it has a polyester canvas shell for use in all weather conditions. This bad boy will set you back about $50.
Most solar panels are rigid and stiff, not the Kickr. This flexible device allows you to literally drop it on the ground and stomp it or fold it completely in half without it breaking to pieces and destroying your chance of survival. This is perfect for those who tend to be extremely clumsy like me. Patented CIGS tech offers premium power density to weight ratio, making this a weather-resistant generator weighing only a pound. 3 watts of solar power is cranked out over the 5V micro and mini USB interface, or via the 30-pin Apple connector. Coming in at $60.
When on the go, you don’t want some chunky heavy block bouncing around in your backpack. That’s when you snap up the ultra-rugged, one pound Nomad. It’s a self-contained system with storage space for all the cords that works with any USB device. If you need to, you can also snap on the cigarette lighter adapter for use with a second device, a 12V item, or a non-USB-compatible piece of hardware. It only grabs about 7 watts worth of sunshine, so the output isn’t astounding. You’ll need a battery if you pack around an iPad or similar bigger items. This piece of technology is a little pricier at $80 but well worth the buy.
Built like an iPad Mini Case you get a little protective storage when you buy the Amp. A zippered mesh pocket sits on the inside, along with a 4,000mAh, 15Wh removable battery pack. On the outside is a pair of monocrystalline solar panels that can kick out the 4.4W worth of juice at either 6V or 12V depending on your needs. The battery alone can give you more than a full smartphone charge, but just hours in the light can get all your devices back up to full function. Compatible with just about everything. At a little under $100, this is truly a wonder product.
This isn’t exactly what some would consider a truly portable solar panel, but if you are willing to spend a little extra, this is the best on the list by far. You’re not going to want to try to carry this around with you, but rather load it up with your basecamp gear for working on your screenplay while everyone else pitches their little camping tents. It has a 5V port for charging up your typical gadgets via USB, but also offers an 18V 2+ amp DC power option for bigger products that chug power. Though it has 40 watts worth of energy, it is specifically designed to keep whatever you plug into it safe throughout the process, so no fried drives or boards. At $200, you’re getting the best of the best.
Although as mentioned earlier, you can make money from feeding electricity back into your city grid, the truth is that the amount isn’t that much anymore. It is therefore absolutely essential that you learn the various ways through which you can maximize the use of your harnessed solar power for your own benefit.
This means that you need to figure out just how much solar panel capacity your home needs and how to make the best use of this harnessed energy. Although it is often best to consult with a professional installer when trying to come up with these figures, certain factors are constant in every home. We are talking about:
It might make logical sense to choose solar panels that have the highest rated output, but you need to remember that there is more to building a robust solar power generating system than just the array of panels put together. You need to seriously consider how much roof space you have especially when it comes to the north-facing section which is a prime location for harnessing sunlight. Yes, the more powerful the power rating, the fewer solar panels you would need to install.
As already mentioned, storing solar power energy can be a little expensive. But if you have decided to go the solar panel way and have already learned how to find the best solar panels for home use, then the next logical step to take is to prepare your home for efficient solar energy use and conservation. By investigating your home’s energy efficiency, you will be in a better position to know just how much solar panel capacity you need. Here are a few steps that you need to take to ensure that you get the most out of your solar power system at home:
It is easier to use a professional installer and let them assess your particular set up and location. They will give an in-depth rundown of what you will need to do and a realistic assessment of what you can expect to harness from your solar panels.
In conclusion, there are so many different types, sizes and uses for solar panels. No matter who you are or what your energy needs are, you are sure to find one that is a good fit for you. Hopefully, the information provided here helped a bit with listing some of the best solar products on the market as well as giving information and backstory. You can’t go wrong with solar power, and despite the fact that the initial cost might be significant depending on your particular needs, the thing to focus on is how much you will save in the long run. Think of all the advantages that come with harnessing solar power for your home and remember that the best vendors always have some financing plan that will make the entire venture very affordable.