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6 Important Things to Understand About Solar Energy

Over the years, more and more people are starting to appreciate the benefits of solar energy. 

For the most part, lots of people have switched to solar energy because it is a more cost-efficient solution compared to the power generated by electric companies, and they are perfect for boosting the value of your property. 

However, before you run off to buy a solar system for your home or business, we suggest that you research and read on to avoid making the most common Solar Mistakes.

1. Off-Grid and Grid-Tie Solar 

Aside from the initial cost of setting up a solar power system, the energy we generate through it is essentially free. This is great, but being on solar energy doesn’t always mean living off the grid, as some may seem to believe. For the most part, lots of people actually want to be running on solar but still be grid-tied. But what is the difference anyway? Allow us to explain:

Grid-Tie Solar Power System

When we set up panels, each one can generate a certain amount of energy. More often than not, we end up having more energy than we need. What happens is that when we are unable to consume it, it ends up going to waste. However, when we opt to be grid-tied we can then store the energy we generate in the utility grid. And many utility companies will credit us for the extra power we generate while still allowing us to pull some power from the grid whenever we need it. 

Off-Grid Solar Power

When we go off the grid, we are no longer able to access the power lines. Therefore we will need additional systems for us to store our excess energy. This generally means that we must have a power bank for our system to run.

2. Solar Power System Sizing 

Getting the size of a solar power system is more complicated than one would imagine. On the surface, initial research on solar systems may lead lots of people to think that the purchase of the panels is as simple as inspecting the most recent utility bill usage. This is where Solar Mistakes occur since several factors must be put into consideration. 

Some of these factors include panel orientation, natural efficiency drop, climate, shading, and a few other aspects that can truly impact the system’s output. For this reason, we do not market full systems to buyers until they have sought out a full consultation with one of our experienced solar design technicians.

Factors We Bring To Your Attention When Choosing Panel Sizes 

During these consultation sessions, we provide a comprehensive system that accounts for additional variables that many people do not stop to consider. Here are some points we discuss:

Efficiency 

Every panel has an efficiency rating, and each year they experience a drop of anywhere between 0.5 to 1%. Therefore a panel installed 20 years ago will be 10-20% less efficient by now. We make it a point to create a system designed to provide extra legroom to account for these efficiency losses. 

Climate

When panels are tested, it is often done in a factory where the temperature is ideal compared to the real world, where it can experience conditions that are hasher. For instance, higher temperatures can greatly impact the amount of generated energy. The location can also dictate the number of hours a day you get ample sun. 

In the solar energy industry, we have a term we use a lot. This term is “sun hours.” We are not referring to how long the sun is in the sky. Instead, we are talking about the position the sun is where panels can generate the most energy from it. Lots of locations get around 4-6 hours daily, and the specific amount will dictate the system sizing needed.

Voltage

Charge controllers and inverters have a minimum and maximum window for voltage input. So do panels and batteries. Systems must be designed with the correct voltage, and this is based on the equipment used.

3. There are power outages with solar power!

Just because you are generating your own energy does not mean that your lights remain on when there is a power outage. This is not the case if the system is grid-tied. Though the power comes from the panels, it is still stored in the utility grid. Therefore, when the grid goes out, so does your system. The quick solution is to have a backup battery.

4. With the Tax Credit, Solar Is a Great Investment

Then again, the power we pay for from the public power company isn’t cheap either. The truth of the matter is that most grid-tied solar systems pay for themselves when you view their value long-term. If you need more info or help with calculating the overall savings, do let us know, and we would be happy to help.

5. Leasing a Solar Panel System

If you own your solar system, solar power is a worthy investment. When it is a leased system, that’s another story. Systems leased from a third party or PPA (Power Purchasing Agreement) greatly diminish the investment value. We find that such an arrangement is a bad deal and another one of the Solar Mistakes to avoid.

First of all, all incentives are claimed by the lender and not you. Say goodbye to the 30% federal tax credit or any other rebate because not a penny is going into your pocket. Not only are consumers pushed out of receiving incentives, but there’s also the matter of paying premium prices just to lease the panels, and let us not forget the interest rates that comes with it. At the end of the day, chances are you end up paying double what it would have cost you to simply purchase a system for yourself.

6. Planning Ahead

The majority of solar panels have a 25-year warranty. When most people begin the process of planning out their solar energy system, one of the usual Solar Mistakes is only thinking of the current needs. Very few stop to think far ahead into the potential future changes. For example, what happens when you expand your home, adding to your energy consumption? We always advise considering any future changes that could affect the system. These must be addressed in the planning stage.