A Beginner's Guide to Solar Panels

Are Solar Panels Right for You?

Being environmentally friendly isn’t always easy. With the time constraints of everyday life and the pressure of it all, it can sometimes even feel impossible. I mean, who has extra time to recycle and ride a bike instead of taking the car? But despite the fact that we don’t feel as if there is enough time, we all still want to feel as if we are doing all we can to be environmentally friendly. While it may be costly, solar panels are perhaps one of the easiest ways to do so. Learn more about solar panels below:

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels function by placing a solar array (more often referred to simply as the "solar panel") somewhere that gets a lot of sun. The solar array (solar panel) is made up of a bunch of little "cells" that look like little boxes. Each individual cell takes photons from the sun and creates an electron. The electrons are carried out through the wires at the back of the cells and transferred down to the inverter. The inverter then changes the DC electricity to AC electricity so it can be used inside your house. After being converted, the AC electricity travels to the service panel where you can begin to use the power inside your home (or use it to charge batteries for future usage). Keeping some batteries charged is great because then you can still have power even if there is an outage in your neighborhood.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Understandably, the cost of installing solar panels is the biggest concern for those considering making the change. Solar panels can certainly be pricey. How much you end up spending will vary from company to company, but it’s estimated that the cost will be somewhere between $15,000 and $40,000 (with installation, labor, permit fees, inspection fees, etc.). The price will also be dependent on the size of your family, home, and power needs.  For a free consultation, check out SunPower. SunPower has great payment options should this be a transition you’re ready to make.

What are the Benefits?

One of the best benefits of solar energy is the reduction in your electric bills and the fact that you can still have power (assuming you’ve saved up enough) even when tradition power sources have gone out. Solar energy helps reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and helps protect the environment by reducing the emission of toxic chemicals, air pollution, and greenhouse gases. Plus, solar energy is renewable (since the sun will never permanently be gone). If you decide to own your panels, you can "bank in" on the energy during the summer months (selling excess energy back to energy companies) and use that money to pay for energy bills in the less sunny months. This is how people save so much money on electricity with solar panels. You will also reduce your carbon footprint and set an example for clean energy to future generations. Solar systems last 30 years or more and require little to no maintenance.

What are the Drawbacks?

Obviously, the main drawback of solar energy is that it cannot be generated during the night or with too much cloud coverage, but there are also a couple other considerations to be considered. For example, the initial costs of solar panels can be a cause of concern for some people. Also, occasionally the cells have trouble soaking up as much energy in highly polluted areas. Solar panels are ideal for places with a lot of sun and low pollution as the drawbacks would be minimal in that type of climate.

Tax Breaks for Solar Panels in California:

In California you can get a 30% federal tax credit on the complete cost of the installation for your solar panels on your tax refund (on systems installed before December 31st, 2019). 

Solar panels seem to be an easy "do it once and forget about it" way to be more environmentally friendly.

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