The costs and the benefits of going solar

Solar Panels Components and Solar Panel Cost

Over the past year, it has become more common to drive by a home and see solar panels on the roof. A solar panel system is made up of four parts. First, there are the solar panels. These are used to capture the sun’s energy and converts it to electricity. Next, there is the controller. This will protect the batteries by regulating the flow of electricity. The batteries will store the electricity for later. Finally, there is the inverter. The inverter will convert the energy that was stored in a battery to the voltage necessary to run standard electrical equipment.

The cost of a solar power system installed depends on the system that is installed. A 5 kW system costs between $25,000 and $35,000. These prices are subject to change at any time. For example, the typical 5 kW system costs between $5 to $7 per Watt (W). If the installation and auxiliary equipment costs are reduced to $1 per Watt (W), the price could go down as low as $10,000.

Solar Panel Financing

Are solar panels worth it? Today solar companies can use financing mechanisms such as solar power purchase agreements (PPA) and solar lease that allow homeowners and businesses to switch to solar with zero out of pocket. These are companies who will put the solar panels on your home at no cost, but you would pay for the energy that the solar panels produce.

Many people are doing this because they want a cleaner form of energy, and in most cases, their energy bills will be cheaper when using solar power. Some companies will save you more money than others, it just depends on which company you choose. You can check the solar energy market place at EnergySage to see whether there are companies in your area that provide these financing mechanisms when you want to going solar.

Solar panels 

A Solar panel refers to a panel modified to absorb the ultra-violet rays from the sun for generating heat or electricity.

A photovoltaic, written in short form PV, is a module connected to an assembly of six by ten solar cells. These panels constitute a photovoltaic system that supplies while generating solar electricity for residential and commercial applications. The module is usually rated between a power range of100 to 365 watts.

The area of a module is determined by the of each efficiency of a module given the same rated output – an eight percent efficient 230-watt module will have two times the area of a sixteen percent efficient two hundred and thirty-watt module. Some modules exceed the nineteen percent efficiency. A photovoltaic system includes a solar inverter, solar tracker and interconnection wiring, a panel of solar modules and sometimes a battery.

With time and advancement in technology, solar electricity will reach grid parity, a point at which solar power will compete well with other sources of energy. 

Solar Panels Efficiency

Solar panels can produce electricity from a range of frequencies of UV rays depending on the construction. Solar panels can give far higher efficiency if illuminated with light that is monochromatic. Sunlight can be split into different wavelength ranges and then the different light beams are directed onto different cells that are tuned to those ranges.

This design raises the efficiency of a solar panel over fifty percent. Scientists from subsidiary of Boeing called Spectrolab, have developed a multi junction solar cell with a forty percent and over efficiency which is a world record. The Spectrolab scientists predict that concentrator solar cells could achieve forty-five and fifty percent efficiency in the near future.

Currently 21.5 percent efficiency is the only best achieved sunlight conversion rate for new commercial products, which is usually lower, compared to solar cells in isolation. The most efficient mass-produced solar panels have a 175 W/m2 power rating density.

Solar panel cost 

The pricing of solar panels is categorized into 3 pricing categories: large quantity buyers, mid-range buyers (up to 10 MWP annually) and small quantities (panels of all sizes in the KW range annually). With advancement in technology there has been a gradual decrease in pricing of solar panels.

For example, in 2012 the quantity cost per watt was about sixty cents USD, which was two hundred and fifty times lower than the cost in 1970 of one hundred and fifty USD. A 2015 study shows price kilowatt per hour dropping by ten percent per year since 1980, and foresees that solar electricity could contribute twenty percent of the total electricity consumption by the year 2030, whereas the International Energy Agency foresees sixteen percent by 2050.

World prices depend on a great deal on weather conditions. In the United Kingdom which is a cloudy country, price per installed kilowatt is higher than in sunnier countries like Spain.

For commercial solar power stations, where the solar electricity is being sold into the transmission network, the cost of solar electricity will need to match the wholesale electricity price. ‘bus bar parity’ or ‘wholesale grid parity’ is usually used to name and point this occurrence.

There are several reasons that more and more people are using solar energy today. Some are using solar power for the energy costs mentioned above, however, there are several other benefits of using solar power to produce electricity in your home.

  • To reduce the effects of climate change
  • To reduce air pollution
  • A reliable energy resource
  • Creation of local jobs

The One Downside to Solar Energy

With all of the benefits of solar energy, there is just one downside. Unfortunately, the sun is not shining 24 hours a day. Therefore, the energy would start to dwindle during the late evening into the early night. This is a time that we need our electricity the most. When it begins to get dark outside, we turn on our lights. Because the power begins to dwindle, you would need to rely on a mix of clean and traditional energy, or some form of energy storage.

So,  are solar panels worth it? 

Depending on your current energy costs, and availability of solar energy resource, it is definitely worth the investment. To help you find out whether solar energy will be worth your investment for your specific case, get started here to review how many solar panels you need and how much your solar panels would cost.You will also find out everything you need to know to switch to solar, including the financing options available as well as going solar with no money down.

9 Responses

  1. This is an extremely well written and informative article, Personally i was looking for some general information about the cost and the benefits of solar panel and your post was just perfect, and I really like the way you have explained each and everything so well, Very well done with the article, thanks for sharing I enjoying reading them

    • Thanks for your positive comments and I am happy to know you found this blog useful. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. Also keep visiting this blog and exchange ideas or other comments that may help to share knowledge and information for people interested in solar. Thanks again!

  2. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that energy storage would be needed to continue to use solar power at night. My husband and I have been making some changes around our house to make it more energy efficient, and we were thinking of switching to solar power. Is there a way to store energy throughout the day for a residential system? Thanks for the great post!

    • Thank you Lilian for stopping by and reading our blog posts. Yes, you can store excess solar power on batteries or feed it on the grid to be used by your neighbors when you are not using this power if your country or state supports net-metering. Storing with the grid helps your meter to run backwards and hence at night when there is no sunshine, you can use this power where your meter starts moving forward. Over a 12-month period, you pay only for the net amount of electricity used from the utility when you decide to store energy on your utility grid.
      It is a great idea you are switching to solar. You can check how much you can save with solar and your solar potential at the click of your mouse. Learn more about online solar tools which you can give you preliminary research information concerning your going solar. Learn more about online solar tools and let us know if you need any help.

    • Hello Lillian, thank you for stopping by and your comments about energy storage. Yes energy storage will be necessary if you are to go off-grid or in remote areas where there is no power from the grid. Storage technologies are there, but what is needed is to reduce the cost of these technologies so that they are competitive in the market. Thank you again of your comment and I appreciate that you found this information useful.

  3. I really like the idea of getting solar panels. Just the fact that the only downside to these panels is relying on the sun to shine makes me happy to buy them. The sun is out almost all the time where I live, so that shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

  4. It’s interesting to see that solar panels can have an efficiency of over 50%. I didn’t think that the technology was that far advanced! If that’s the case, my husband and I should look into getting some for our home. Cost is not really a concern for us, so I think we could make it work!

    • Hello Maggie, thank you for stopping by and reading our blog posts. You’re right today you can get solar panels of high efficiency especially if you are willing to pay more and get good efficiency solar panels. However, most solar panels have an efficiency that range between 15 to 22%, and that means you need more panels as compared to installing 50% efficient panels. If you are considering to go solar, please check out online solar tools that can help you decide whether solar is right for you when considering costs, financing, solar potential and savings.

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