Solar panel systems use photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert the sun’s power into energy which can then be used to power electrical appliances in the home, or be fed back into the national grid. The chemical reaction in the panels creates a flow of direct current electrons (D/C), which then feeds into an inverter to convert the flow into alternating current (A/C) to power the home.
Here are a few advantages of this renewable energy source:
1. The incentives are better than ever
Government schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff coupled with rising electricity bills and dwindling fossil fuel resources make free solar energy an ever more compelling way to cut down on both environmental damage and costs to the homeowner.
2. Sunshine not required
It is a myth that solar panels need sunshine to work. The photovoltaic cells react to daylight, meaning they can generate 40% of their potential electricity yield even if the weather is completely overcast. Electricity can also still be provided to the home outside of daylight hours as the home will still be connected to the national grid as before – the homeowner will also be paid back for any unused electricity that they feed back to the grid (more on this later).
3. Environmental benefits
The argument for more renewable forms of energy is getting louder and more prominent by the day. Oil and gas prices are on a continuous increase and fossil fuel recovery methods such as tar sands are getting progressively worse for the environment. More and more of these methods are leaving areas of land highly polluted and can emit up to 45% more greenhouse gas than traditional oil and gas. Solar energy is becoming increasingly more acknowledged as a key component of a low-carbon future, especially with peak oil production rapidly approaching.
4. Financial benefits
Fortunately, solar energy is something that the homeowner can already start to benefit from in terms of cost savings. The US government has introduced schemes that provide hugely compelling cost incentives for installing domestic solar panels, namely the Feed-in Tariff (FIT). For example, the state of California’s Feed-in Tariff currently pays between $1.10 and $1.90 per A/C watt that a solar panel system produces, whether or not that electricity is used in the home. The amount the homeowner receives back will also increase with inflation and is guaranteed for at least 25 years.
In total, homeowners can make an estimated $19,000 profit over their solar panel system’s lifecycle, as well as electricity bill savings of between $110 and $173 every year.
Whilst the initial cost of the panels and their installation is between $12,500 and $22,000, the combined bill savings and money from the Feed-in Tariff means the homeowner will start earning back straight away. Many providers also offer the system for free in exchange for rights to the Feed-in Tariff until the costs are paid off; meaning solar energy is more accessible and rewarding than ever.