Five(5) benefits of a solar phone charger

With the growing environmental concerns of climate change and the decreasing prices of solar PV, solar energy is trending in many sectors, including but not limited to power homes and businesses. Also, portable solar solutions including portable solar chargers or solar phone chargers are trending with increasing awareness about renewable energy. This article attempts to explain five(5) benefits of using a solar phone charger:solar phone charger

  1. A solar phone charger is portable and uses clean energy to help you charge your electronic devices. Once you have selected your solar cell phone charger, whose cost can be estimated to range anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on the brand and features included, a solar phone charger is very portable as it can be carried anywhere to charge your cellphone. A solar-powered phone charger comes in handy, especially used during traveling or outdoor activities. Since it is portable during the day when there is sunshine you can use it in your picnics, hikes or when camping to use it to charge not only your cellphone but also your iPad, portable speaker, humidifier, etc.
  2. A lot of people especially in rural areas mostly in the developing world are not connected to the grid. As such, having solar chargers and other solar PV systems like solar panels and solar batteries are being used to produce power for both households and commercials helping to solve the energy access issue.
  3. A solar phone charger would probably be the main source of energy in off-grid areas to power cellphones. For instance, in Africa, around 640 million people don’t have access to a grid and where some people do have access to the electricity supply is unreliable and unstable. As a result, solar PV has become one of the main sources of energy to power homes and businesses using one of the most consistent and promising approaches to tackling this huge obstacle to energy access, that is, off-grid pay-as-you-go solar power model, now called PayGo.
  4. A solar phone charger uses solar energy – a renewable energy source. Even though energy from a solar charger might seem trivial or does not have an impact in terms of how much you can save when it comes to energy because cellphones or smartphones use a trivial amount of electricity. For instance, iPhone 5 uses 3.5KWh/year and costing about $0.41/year to charge them while Galaxy S III consumes 4.9 KWh/year at $0.5/year primarily because of the Galaxy’s larger battery. However, this might not impact you, but considering the aggregate impact (about 5 billion cellphones around the world) in terms of energy reduction from the grid and the increasing demand for mobile phones worldwide; your usage of the Sun’s energy to power your phone probably has an impact, if you look at it from a system’s perspective.
  5. A solar phone charger is one step to energy efficiency when you aggregate the number of cellphones from a system’s perspective. Currently, there are about 5 billion cellphones around the world according to GSM intelligence. Users for smartphones are expected to increase by 2023 to over 7 billion. Smartphones consume more energy depending on how many wireless data the device is using as well as the amount of power consumed in making those wireless connections. As a result, when not using energy from renewables, a solar phone charger can help in reducing your carbon footprint.

From a system’s perspective, electronic gadgets or even electric vehicles powered using solar power will have an impact in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduced while increasing the energy efficiency consumed in the long-term.

Some of the best solar phone chargers have been reviewed on Amazon. When looking for some of the best solar phone chargers, it is important to evaluate the number of devices that can be charged, the time it takes to charge, and overall durability when selecting a model.

Five great products on the market have been evaluated through Amazon to help determine which solar charger best meets your needs. You can learn more at Amazon.

To understand your energy profile and GHGs that can be reduced while going solar using a solar panel calculator can help you figure out your sustainability benefits. Learn more about how you can check instantly whether solar is right for you.

IBM research unveils a new battery free of heavy metals

electric vehicle batteriesWith the increasing demand for solar powered buildings, solar powered vehicles (electric vehicles(EVs) ) and smart grid power solutions; it is certain that there will be high demand for batteries. Many batteries including nickel and cobalt batteries pose an environmental threat to our natural ecosystem because of heavy metals.

From a system thinking perspective or a life-cycle basis – EVs, as well as all other going solar concepts, need alternative battery or storage solutions to significantly increase their environmental performance compared to conventional diesel or gas-powered vehicles.

For instance, in this article concerning EV sustainability issues, we saw that EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. As such, even with sustainable recycle and re-use programs to tackle the threat to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future, the development of sustainable materials or building new EV batteries that are zero in heavy metals will help to tackle these concerns from a system perspective.

Technological breakthroughs at the IBM research could help to solve the battery sustainability challenge:  

Researchers at the IBM research just unveiled recently a new battery discovery than could revolutionize the entire battery industry and help to solve the EV and going solar sustainability challenges when it comes to the elimination of heavy metals.

According to IBM research, it discovered a new battery which will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production and transform the long-term sustainability of many elements for our energy infrastructure. IBM research has discovered chemistry for a new battery that does not use heavy metals or other substances with sourcing concerns because the materials for this new battery are able to be extracted from seawater. Consequently, this lays the foundation for less invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods as noted by IBM research.

The new battery technology is also very promising because of its performance potential as determined in its initial tests which proved the new battery has faster charging time, higher power and energy density, storage energy efficiency and low flammability compared with the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries.

In addition, the new battery design could outperform lithium-ion across several sustainable technologies because it uses cobalt and nickel-free cathode material, as well as a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. As such, this new battery design and chemistry includes a unique combination of the cathode and electrolyte demonstrated an ability to suppress lithium metal dendrites during charging, thereby reducing flammability, which is widely considered a significant drawback for the use of lithium metal as an anode material.

Lithium-ion batteries seem to be current battery technology at the moment, however, if new the battery discovery by IBM research is proving to perform better technically and environmentally, this discovery holds significant potential for electric vehicle batteries.

According to IBM research, the new battery will have a huge potential because of its flammability, cost and charging time.  It can reach an 80% state of charge with its configuration for high power at less than five minutes as shown during its current tests. IBM research is also using AI and machine learning techniques to mine huge data points that have helped to speed up this research and with better accuracy testing and the set hypothesis.

Future of solar in a smart building.

smarthomeBecause of the volatility of global oil prices, the cost of energy will continue to increase proportionately and especially when our energy demand continues to depend on finite fossil fuels. Similarly, the cost of energy for an average building in the USA or globally will continue to increase proportionately when the main source is from fossil fuels because the price for energy continues to increase due to volatility of oil prices. Solar PV and increased connectivity is an option that seems very promising and could help to reduce or mitigate the issue of climate change and increasing energy prices.

The advent of AI in energy management

Artificial intelligence technologyThe advent of new technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and blockchain allows for smart building energy management systems that can provide monitoring made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced data analytics and via wireless connections.

Looking in the future, solar is likely to be sold as a core part of the smart building concept that includes a building energy management system, energy storage, Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and smart appliances. This makes more sense because sourcing all the energy from solar will help to save more money and help to achieve sustainability. Also, EV and smart appliances can help to balance the grid for instance, electric vehicles can be used as temporary storage to connected appliances to reduce power usage when needed.

IoTAlso, in the energy management space, lighting and HVAC integration are the two most common systems integrated into the smart building strategy to reduce the energy footprint, but the IoT industry has opened the door to more sensors and hence increased intelligence through data collection. Some of the most common IoT sensors have applications for smart metering, occupancy sensors, water detection, humidity sensors, contact sensors, and carbon monoxide detection among many others.

Internet of Things

The whole idea of making your building smart is to allow you to make more informed decisions about the building based on the data it provides. Data is aggregated via IoT (Internet of Things) controls and sensors in a web-based platform that can be monitored, controlled and acted upon in real-time or perhaps using your cellphone. The main advantage of having a smart building is to help facility and property managers gain insight into the detailed workings of their locations and gather useful data to improve building performance and efficiency.

Advantages of integrating solar in a smart building:

  •  Smart buildings utilize machine learning algorithms and can be able to forecast your energy consumption and through demand response mechanisms solar consumption by the building can be increased in times of high solar generation and vice-versa. Through IoT smart appliances can be remotely controlled digitally to adopt on-site demand. For instance, heat pumps, heat storage batteries and air conditioning units can be optimized with solar generation and be a way of using excess solar electricity as heat.
  • Battery storage and smart electric vehicle charging when integrated with solar PV could significantly increase solar consumption for some households and businesses and especially when solar PV is combined with battery storage.
  • Deep machine learning and artificial intelligence when integrated with your smart appliances and solar can help to forecast and manage generation and consumption as well as voice activation technology to make systems more user-friendly.
  • Generally, smart buildings through optimization increase energy efficiency, comfort and safety and with solar PV, more energy is saved reducing your energy footprint.

This article explained how the smart building concept can help to reduce energy consumption and allow for the integration of solar PV, EV charging and IoT helping you reduce your energy footprint to achieve sustainability. However, a key question is whether these smart building technologies can currently pay for themselves? Do they currently increase or decrease the return on investment on installation when combined with solar?  EnergySage is a great starting point to help you figure out your energy savings when it comes to going solar.

Five ways to decrease energy costs

energy auditsCutting costs and saving money is essential to the health of any business. But too many small business owners focus on direct spending and not the indirect costs of intangibles such as energy costs. Every penny saved on conserving energy goes straight to the bottom line. Here are five strategies for cutting energy costs in your business.

Empower an Energy Manager

Put someone in charge of your energy savings and empower them to make decisions and cut costs. This person can be someone in accounting or a general office manager. It needs to be someone familiar enough with the day to day operations to understand where, when and how energy costs can be cut without impacting services. Give this person reasonable and attainable goals and hold them accountable for savings. You might even offer an incentive for meeting specific goals.

Get an Energy Audit

The new energy manager should first be required to perform an energy audit. They shouldn’t have to do this alone. Your power provider and other local groups can be called upon to help create energy audits, often at no or low cost. Identifying where energy can be saved is the first step to cutting power costs. Don’t forget to audit the energy consumption of all equipment as compared to newer energy-efficient models. Have the manager look at both short and long-term savings for purchasing new equipment and replacing old power hogs. Many replacements will pay for themselves in less time than you think.

Get Regular Maintenance of all HVAC Equipment

Keeping the equipment healthy that makes your environment comfortable is a significant step in energy savings. Replacing dirty filters and other minor changes can make huge boosts to your energy conservation. Take a look at your annual heating and cooling costs for general office systems. Now imagine cutting 30-40% of that cost annually. Also, have your HVAC maintenance company make recommendations on ideal settings for your thermostats and have all thermostats replaced with ones that can be set to timers or operated remotely.

Don’t Forget Your Computer Rooms

While saving on cooling costs, you can’t afford to risk your valuable data servers. But you don’t need to dump a fortune into keeping them cold either. First, have an expert make recommendations on optimal temperatures for your server rooms and computers. Next, find ways of maintaining these temperatures more efficiently. A low power electric fan can make a massive difference without impacting your cooling system budget. Install equipment and/or software that puts the computers in a low-energy standby mode when not in use.

Invest in Alternative Energy Sources

Depending on your location, alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power may be available. Solar energy can be installed for almost any business depending on the type of building and local zoning ordinances. Installation of solar panels is often tax-deductible, and even better, your solar farm may produce enough energy to sell some of it back to your power company.

Energy savings not only helps the environment but can drastically improve the bottom line of your company. Make decreasing energy costs a priority today and reap the benefits for years to come.

How to check whether solar is right for you instantly?

Why solar energy?

solar panel calculator

Solar energy helps to reduce your energy costs anywhere from 20% to 100% depending on how many solar panels you decide to install on your roof. Sometimes, you want a power source that always runs your systems. But without going solar, you will have to dig deep in your pockets and pay.

With solar power, you have the opportunity to reduce your power bill. The current online market places have made the process of going solar a quicker method of owning one for your home. EnergySage has been as one of the best in providing users with a solar panel calculator for online users to determine the following: –

  • The payback period that your PV solar system will need
  • How to finance your solar panel options (that will include loans, cash, and use of solar PPA)
  • You can also do 20-year savings
  • Receiving solar quotes from different installers from your area

How to go solar using the solar panel calculator

If you want to go solar, a solar panel calculator offers a faster to do so without having to do the solar calculations yourself. Careful thought about going solar is more comfortable and provided for using a solar calculator so that you make informed decisions.

Some things need to be considered first if you want to make the right choice for once and for all. That is why it is going to be advisable for you to conduct an initial analysis of solar panels. At the juncture, you need a solar panel cost calculator to help you get informed before you make that right decision to estimate costs and savings. Thus, you can determine if it is going to be worthy of installing solar systems in your rooftop.

The process that you will go through is just a simple one; you don’t have to go through one that is tedious. Firstly, you need to know how much energy you need at home by you analyzing the quantity of solar power you need.

solar panel calculator

Secondly, you may need to see the number of solar panels that would fit on your rooftop, and the kind of savings you will get after using solar energy. As a result, you should answer whether it is worthy of going solar by the use of a solar panel calculator.

The kind of solar panel cost calculators that will help you go solar

We’ve always asked ourselves the big first question: are solar panels worth it? Although what solar calculators are great to help us answer this question? Now, let’s make it simpler for you. The type of solar panel cost calculators that are popular today or widely used include: –

  • EnergySage solar panel calculator
  • Pick My solar calculator
  • Google Project sunroof solar calculator

1. EnergySage solar panel cost calculator

This is one of the solar panel calculators rated to provide users with more accurate information. Because of the use of LIDAR technology applied in this calculator, your calculations are precise near. You can use it to switch your world into solar PV technology. EnergySage has been developed using the latest LiDAR technology. That means that you will get actual data, for instance, the solar irradiation data (this is the amount of sunlight that heats your rooftop)

EnergySage is an online market place designed with wealth solar panels reviews and also a network of solar providers, installers and even manufacturers. That means that you can connect to whoever you need to accomplish your job for you. It is one source that you cannot miss if you have any solar needs out there.

2. Pick My Solar

Pick My Solar designed with the ability to estimate by address and try to give you those precise answers to the various kind of questions that you might be having. The best part about this solar panel calculator is that it is not limited to a location like the others as it has mapped the whole country. That means when you type in your address, it will be easier for it to locate the type of address. From there, it can calculate the solar costs and savings basing its finding on how much sunlight will be hitting your rooftop.

3. Google Project Sunroof

Google Project Sunroof is another solar panel calculator that has been developed by google that requires you to type in your address. It has a global view and focuses on rolling out to other countries after its pilot in the USA. At the moment, it just estimates the solar potential of some parts in the USA and Germany.

The use of data explorer in the Beta version also keeps it ahead with technology. It means that users will now have the ability to determine the amount of solar potential that is in the communities.

Factors to consider before buying a solar panel?

solar panel cost calculator

  • You need to check your rooftop where solar panels are installed.

If your roof has a pitch of 30-degrees and there is no obstruction on the way, it also becomes an ideal place that you can do your solar installations. You also need to determine if your roof is in a shadow, or if it or has growing trees around it, as this will affect solar performance.

You also need to figure out whether your roof is big enough to handle your solar needs. You can get help with this by using the Google Project Sunroof. It uses images that it takes from google earth maps to give you that perfect calculated answer.

  • Climatic conditions

Most people have misconceptions that it is a must that you live in areas that have a warm and sunny climate for you to get the best solar power energy. But according to researchers, it has been found that solar energy increases when the temperatures are colder. The primary reason is that the efficiency of energy that is produced by solar panels will decline as the temperatures rise from 87 to 91 degrees. If you have a photovoltaic solar panel, that means that it is going to work best during such conditions. But if you live in a cold place that does not receive even a ton of sunlight, this will affect your solar power potential.

  • How much have you done to improve the efficiency of energy?

The amount of solar energy that you need at your home always depends on your usage. That means that you need to trim down your usage as much as possible so that you can reduce the number of solar panels installed. You need to look at energy audits and the efficiency upgrades.

  • Which is the best solar panel for you (type)?

The dominant technologies that exist in the world that are formidable are photovoltaic and also thermal. Photovoltaic uses arrays of cells to give it the power to turn sunlight into electricity. On the other hand, thermal uses sunlight to heat water that is going used inside.

  • How to connect to the grid

Details that you need to handle such a connection differs and depends on your location. But the primary principle behind them is that anytime that you make a connection with a utility, you must first of all sort some logistics so that you are hooked up.

  • How trustworthy is your installer?

Installers are always people that rehired to come to your home to do some electrical installations. For solar installation, you are going to combine the logistics of a home improvement project and also the risks that will come by due to electrical work. EnergySage connects you with prescreened and licensed solar installers.

  • Do you want to lease or you want to buy it?

It will depend on your pocket and to get started; you can use a solar panel calculator from EnergySage to determine your solar economics.

How to select the best solar panels

best solar panelsWhether you are a homeowner or business owner, you want to get value for your money to get the best solar panels that you can be able to afford. However, finding the best solar panels for your solar project can be a daunting challenge, because there are so many solar panels brands available today in the market.

If you are a first-time buyer of solar panels, the process of buying them can be a challenging one because you are perhaps not familiar with the process. You may start researching online or call a solar provider to get a quote and perhaps learn the process as you progress. However, getting familiar with the process from the very start of your project will help you save you time and money, and avoid shoddy deals.

What is the process of selecting the best solar panels?

Firstly, for first-timers, you want to familiarize yourself with the technical jargon used in the solar panels industry to help you understand your equipment very well. Becoming knowledgeable with your solar Photovoltaics (PV) technology is not only useful in the buying process but also helps you plan your project while saving money in the process. We have tackled some of this technical jargon for your review in most of our blogs. You can peruse this particular blog to learn about the different types of solar panels, including but not limited to:

best solar panelsSecondly, it is not easy to visit various websites selling solar panels online and compare them one by one as this will be a very tedious process and you might spend a lot of time trying to compare the various solar PV technology in the market. There are thousands of brands for solar panels and contrasting these solar panels based on pricing, quality, aesthetics, and performance will be time-consuming and tedious.

What we call ” the best solar panels” will vary from person to person based on what one can afford and how the solar panels perform once installed. Affordability is what one can afford to get solar panels that will be able to meet their electricity and heating needs without breaking the bank.

Whereas, solar PV system performance is the capability of the PV system to last long (durability), to have a great solar panel’s efficiency ( that is, the ability to convert sunlight into electricity) and the ability of a solar panel to have an excellent temperature coefficient. According to EnergySage, a solar panel’s temperature coefficient is a measure of how much or little a panel’s production lowered in hot temperatures.

Another aspect of solar panels for checking, especially the quality of solar panels is whether a particular brand is offering excellent warranties for the solar panels. Solar panels generally come with an output warranty covering the energy production of the PV technology, and a materials warranty protecting you against undue wear and tear on your equipment.

According to EnergySage, a solar panel’s performance warranty will typically guarantee 90% production at ten (10) years and 80% at 25 years. An equipment warranty will usually guarantee 10-12 years without failing. Therefore, if you find a solar brand offering such warranties for their solar panels, it will be one of the aspects of guaranteeing high quality for their product.

Compare solar panels online and save more money.

best solar panelsTo help the online shopper find their best solar panels, the EnergySage has created a new online tool that enables online shoppers to make informed solar decisions efficiently.

The EnergySage makes it easy for online shoppers to make online comparisons of solar equipment based on solar panels’ pricing, PV product performance, warranty specifications, solar panel aesthetics, solar panel type, and physical characteristics and product certifications.

The manufacturer’s data sheet or spec sheet is also included to help you select the best solar panel brand based on your desired specifications. EnergySage Solar Buyer’s guide lets users search, sort, filter, and compare today’s most popular solar panel models in the market. You can get started today to select your best solar panels using this new EnergySage tool.

Why go solar using this platform?

The 2019 Launch of the New EnergySage Solar Buyer’s Guide

The online solar marketplace, EnergySage has launched a new online tool that enables online shoppers to make informed solar decisions efficiently. It now makes it easy for online shoppers to make online comparisons of solar equipment based on quality rating, aesthetics, performance, and pricing for not only solar panels but also for, solar batteries and solar inverters.

With this new launch, the EnergySage will help online users compare solar equipment in a one-stop platform to help online shoppers better understand the solar energy equipment (solar panels, solar batteries, and solar inverters) offered to them by most popular solar brands in the market.

solar panels The EnergySage Platform is particularly handy for the first time solar buyers that have no prior solar buying experience and would like to understand their equipment before buying. In a nutshell, the EnergySage solar Buyer’s guide lets users search, sort, filter, and compare today’s most popular solar panel models in the market.

The new EnergySage Solar Buyer’s guide included over one year’s worth of work, with data and analysis from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and leveraging the industry and technical expertise from NREL to develop all scoring criteria.

The new solar guide is in addition to the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system developed by the EnergySage in collaboration with the Department of Energy that allows homeowners, businesses, or nonprofit organizations to estimate their energy savings from solar, and connects them with prescreened installers who can provide solar quotes specific to the user’s address.

What should you expect with the new EnergySage buyer’s guide?

solar panels

1. It provides a great rating system that enables online shoppers to browse through thousands of solar panels from popular solar brands in the market while giving a great rating system that captures some of the essential aspects to consider when selecting solar panels such as type, cost, wattage, efficiency and warranty offering necessary in each solar panels’ quality rating.

2. With the LIDAR powered system provided by EnergySage –it is an added advantage for the online shopper as the cost of a solar panel installation varies with location, property type which LIDAR helps to capture to give near accurate information. As a result, with the solar panels information obtained in the EnergySage Solar Buyer’s guide, the LIDAR powered solar panel cost calculator from the EnergySage also takes into account how much sunlight you’ll get, local electricity rates, as well as any state and federal solar incentives like rebates and tax credits helping to save more money in the process.

3. The EnergySage Solar buyer’s guide tool now provides new additions to the solar panels guide, which is a solar battery guide and solar inverters guide, giving you more information needed to make a more informed purchase.

a) The EnergySage solar battery guide: With very many solar batteries available in the market today, it is not easy to make a quick, informed decision. The EnergySage provides a solar battery quality rating system for each solar battery that captures the essential aspects of a solar battery, including but not limited to cost, capacity, power, round-trip efficiency, degradation rate, and warranty.

b) The EnergySage solar inverter guide: Also, with very many solar inverters available in the market today – making it hard to reach a more informed decision. The EnergySage provides a quality rating system capturing the wattage, and warranty of a solar inverter to help you decide which one is great for your solar power system.

This article is just a summary of the new EnergySage that was launched recently, to learn more about this new tool, you can visit the EnergySage Solar buyers and also get solar quotes online from some of the most popular solar brands in the market.

How to reduce the energy costs of your business

energy saving

1. Why energy saving is important?

With the growing concerns about climate change and the increasing energy costs, businesses of all sizes, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as large businesses are putting measures in place to save energy and the environment. Many of these businesses are switching to renewables or implementing energy-saving measures to reduce their carbon emissions while gaining their competitive edge at the same time.

Energy saving is an interesting concept, but at the same time, a concept that requires careful thought in planning and consideration in order to save energy by influencing behaviors, improving knowledge and skills. Technological changes both locally and internationally imply that today there is a shift that is in favor of clean and energy-efficient technologies that can be applied to save energy and protect the environment at the same time.

Energy saving is also a concept that many businesses are incentivized to implement because energy costs make a significant expense and reducing such costs will help companies gain a competitive edge in the long run.

2. Energy saving is possible with continuous improvement 

Energy-saving will require companies to set up a plan of implementation once a comprehensive energy audit has been conducted.  An energy audit by an energy professional will help to determine the amounts and types of energy consumed in your business.

Energy audits provide data when it comes to knowing how your energy is consumed and where the energy wastage is taking place – that is, it is not possible to manage what you do not measure. Hence, the data collected and analyzed during an energy audit is key to making decisions about how much energy saving can be realized over time depending on your baseline.

Once an energy management plan has been drafted, energy saving should be integrated into your company policy to introduce continuity or sustainability in the implementation of energy efficiency. To encourage behavioral change to energy efficiency, all levels of the organization should be involved, including senior management. The implementation plan would also include setting up an energy-saving committee while organizational policies and procedures should include the need to save energy and other utility costs.

3. Solar PV is a great candidate for energy saving for many businesses. 

Solar PV is a great example of a technological change that can reduce your energy costs dramatically both in the short-term and long-term.  Solar PV may have a high initial investment, but in the long-term, it will help you save a significant amount of energy and contribute to your efforts of contributing to sustainability.  With solar PV, once your solar panels are paid off perhaps after 5 to 7 years depending on their payback period, going solar can save you anywhere from 20% to 100% of your energy costs.

How much energy you save with solar panels will depend on what other energy-saving measures you implement, for instance, switching from incandescent light bulbs to energy-saving lights.  Implementing such low hanging fruit energy-saving measures will help to reduce your investment cost for solar panels.

How many solar panels you need for your PV system depending on your energy profile. To find out how many solar panels you need, you can use a solar panel cost calculator to allow you to see your current PV system based on your roof size and how much sunshine is hitting your roof.

Can solar panels meet your household heating needs?

energy efficiency

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) is a technology that works well to provide solar electricity suitable for running most of your electrical needs such as air conditioning, lighting, refrigeration, water pumping, etc. However, when it comes to thermal or heating needs, solar PV is not well suited. 

Solar PV can provide thermal energy, but it will require many solar panels than usual making it expensive.

For cost-effectiveness purposes, solar electricity (PV) is a great supplemental source of electricity and when connected to the grid, it can help to reduce your energy costs for on-grid PV systems.

For off-grid PV systems, hybrid solar PV systems such as solar PV /solar thermal with geothermal heat pumps, or with wind power systems or with solar power generators can offer solutions to meet all your energy solutions. 

Solar PV on its own can be an expensive energy option because you still need batteries to store excess power needed at night when there is no sunshine.

However, grid-connected PV systems can eliminate the battery cost. As such, during the day when your solar panels are generating power, it can be fed into the grid causing your meter to run backward helping to reduce your overall energy bill.

At night, this power can be drawn from the grid to power your household. At the end of the month, you can receive credit helping to reduce your energy bill. 

Technological options to supplement your solar PV for thermal or heating needs. 

During the day solar electricity can be used to run your air conditioning (in summer), refrigeration, lighting or water pumping for your pond, swimming pool, etc.

In winter, you might need to supplement your solar PV for heating or thermal needs. Thermal needs come in various forms, energy for cooking, energy for bath or energy for space heating, etc.

As such, the following energy options could be explored based on their cost, efficiency, and application:  

  1. Net metering: Grid-connected solar PV is a great solution to supplement your solar PV for the thermal energy needs that your system may not be able to meet. This is one option that is cost-effective and widely applied in many homes in the USA.  
  2. Geothermal Heat Pump for your home space heating or cooling: This is a renewable energy technology that has started to be applied for home space heating or cooling. It can be used to heat your home in winter and cool it during summer based on the fact that depending on latitude, ground temperatures range from 45°F (7°C) to 75°F (21°C).  As such, the geothermal heat pump takes advantage of this by exchanging heat with the earth through a ground heat exchanger since this ground temperature is warmer than the air above it during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. However, this technology is still being developed and the cost might be prohibitive for some people, but with tax credits and other financial incentives from the government, it might work based on your budget and energy requirements. 
  3. All solar PV and solar thermal (heating): Rural areas that may be very far away from the utility grid might want to consider going all solar and using battery systems for storage to store excess energy produced during the day and using it at night. You might want to consider other renewable options such as geothermal energy or wind to supplement solar. All these options will depend on what technology is applicable in your situation and whether it is cost-effective or affordable.  Solar thermal (heating) in homes is mostly used to heat water used for showering, laundry, and other household use. 

All of the above options may or may not be feasible for your specific case and today with the advancement of software technology, you can use simple online tools like a solar panel cost calculator from the EnergySage to estimate for example, how many solar panels you need to power home and using their platform you can be guided when it comes to other energy options suitable for your specific case.  

Energy-saving options

solar panel cost calculator

Going solar is a great long-term solution to saving energy, reducing your energy bill, and for sustainability. However, how you maximize solar savings depends on how you shop for solar and the guidance you get as you plan to go solar. 

The process starts by wanting to know whether going solar is for you. Today with the onset of online solar panel calculators, it is easy to determine whether your rooftop receives enough sunlight to generate clean solar power. Using a solar panel calculator, not only gives you an indication as to whether you can create your solar energy but also, estimates how much it would cost plus the savings. 

Once you have estimated the costs and savings for going solar, the next step would be to determine possible ways to obtain the full benefit of solar power. Getting the full advantage of solar power means reducing your solar panel cost significantly and save more money in the long-term. These options include energy efficiency, the use of online solar marketplaces, exploring tax incentives available, and the use of a solar panel cost calculator. 

1. Explore energy efficiency options for your home or business.  

Conducting an energy audit by a professional energy rater certified under an accredited home energy rating system (HERS)would help to determine some quick energy efficiency measures that could be implemented to reduce your energy demand and hence help you to save you the number of solar panels required to power your home or business.  

By conducting an energy audit, you may find out that you need to switch to more energy-efficient appliances that are ENERGY STAR certified. ENERGY STAR rated, means that they consume less energy than their traditional home appliances. Implementing such measures has a high upfront cost, but in the long-term is a cost-effective option. The department of power is a good starting point to point you in the direction of how to finance your home energy efficiency projects

Conducting an energy audit by a professional energy rater certified under an accredited home energy rating system (HERS) would help to determine some quick energy efficiency measures that could be implemented to reduce your energy demand and hence save you the number of solar panels required to power your home or business.  

2. Explore online solar marketplaces to find out who has the best solar panel deals 

Online solar markets can aggregate different solar panel quotes from different solar installers hence helping to reduce your overall solar panel cost.  

An online solar marketplace like the EnergySage provides prospective solar photovoltaic (PV) customers with a platform to obtain and compare quotes from multiple competing installers.  It is an excellent tool for solar customers to get more quotes, and the competition between drivers may allow customers to receive lower prices in a platform like the EnergySage. 

 

solar panel cost calculator

(Source: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL))

For instance, recent, NREL research studies have shown that solar panel prices from online solar marketplaces are about $0.20/W to $0.40/W lower on such platforms compared to market-wide prices. 

According to NREL, these price differences are robust after controlling for the various market- and system-level characteristics (e.g., system size, module efficiency). For instance, a typical residential solar PV system, the price differences equate to about $1,000 to $2,000 in savings.

3.  Additional ways of getting the full benefit of solar panels 

Reducing the cost of solar panels by exploring further about some of the available rebates and tax credits available from your state or Federal government, respectively. You can also explore different grants or low-cost financing options that are available in the market to help lower your initial solar panel cost. 

A great place to start and get the link up to all these offers and ways of getting the full benefit of solar power is through the use of a solar panel cost calculator. Get started today to get the full benefit of your solar panels.