Solar Panels: The Time is Now

Now is the time to go solar at home.

Solar power has come a long way since its invention in 1954. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, today’s solar panels are sleek looking—aesthetically, the color and design of today’s solar panels work well with all rooflines. An even more tempting reason is that they’re money saving—many solar providers charge nothing upfront for the equipment. This means installation, maintenance, and repair of the panels cost you nothing. In addition, the price of solar power is less than traditionally sourced electric power.

Solar panels on a farmhouse

Solar panels on a farmhouse via Sungevity

There really are no barriers to going solar these days. In fact, solar powered homes are trending in many parts of the country and world. Solar power, like recycling, bringing our own bags to the grocery store, using re-usable water bottles, and favoring drought-tolerant plants over thirsty lawns, will soon become a way of life.

Succulent planter

Before we delve further into the reasons why now is the right time to go solar, let’s do a quick overview of the basics.

Solar Power Basics

A residential solar power system has 3 basic components:

  • Solar panels
  • Solar inverter
  • Solar meter

Solar Panels: Modules made of silicon “cells” that absorb sunlight to create a photovoltaic effect, which converts sunlight into electricity.

Solar Inverter: The electric box that connects your solar panels to your home, delivering the energy you need. The inverter turns DC electricity produced by the panels into AC electricity that you use in your home. These inverters are also connected to your local traditional electric company, allowing extra energy to be sent back to the grid.

Solar Meter: Monitors the electricity your system produces to ensure it is working properly.

Solar panels

Solar panels via Sunrun Solar

Solar Power: The Cost

The primary reason given for not going solar is cost. People are under the impression that solar costs a bundle, but this could not be further from the truth. Most solar companies offer 0% down options. The panels, inverter, meter, and other necessary equipment are provided, installed, monitored, insured, serviced, and repaired at no cost. The power itself is also less expensive than traditional electricity.

The average homeowner can save approximately 20% or more off their electric bill by going solar. Many factors figure into the percentage of savings, so it is best to get a customized quote. Companies such as Solar City, Sungevity, and Sunrun give customized quotes on solar savings.

In a no-money-down arrangement, the homeowner, in exchange for the solar equipment, enters into a contract to purchase the energy from the solar company at a fixed rate over a certain period of time. This rate is guaranteed and less than that of traditionally sourced power. Because the rate is locked in for an extended time frame, often 20 years, a homeowner is insulated from inevitable utility rate hikes.

This type of no-money-down arrangement is referred to as a Power Purchase Agreement. The companies referenced above offer this type of arrangement. A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is a contract to buy solar power based on a set rate for the electricity the solar system produces. Simply stated, a PPA is a pay-as-you-go solar contract.

There are also government rebates available to those who choose solar. Often the solar company will take care of applying for and processing those rebates for the homeowner. To learn more about governmental rebates for solar installations click here.

Solar powered community

Solar powered community via Solar City

Solar Power: The Look

With no costs associated in the switch to solar, the only remaining hesitation may be the look. But solar aesthetics are no longer a concern. Today, solar panels are sleek and unobtrusive in design. In addition, low-profile installation and special trims allow the panels to be attached flush to any roof type. Today’s solar panels are black—not the dotted versions of the past—as well as smaller and more efficient. This improved efficiency allows for the installation of fewer panels to fulfill your electric needs. A solar provider will ask for approximately four months of prior electric usage and will conduct a site survey to determine the number of panels needed to meet your home’s electric needs.

Sunset Maui

For every hour the sun beams down onto earth, it sends us more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for a full year. All this energy is free for you to harness for your own use. No upfront costs associated with the panels, money savings on your electric bill, attractive design, and a reduced carbon footprint are compelling reasons to go solar.

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