Solar panel tips and guides

Solar energy continues to increase in popularity in the U.S. market, with PV installations for both residential and nonresidential users growing exponentially in recent years.

Solar may not be an ideal fit for everyone, however, and it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages before committing to a solar energy system for your home.

Here are some of the primary pros and cons associated with residential solar energy systems:

Pros
• Reduces your electricity costs: The average U.S. household spends about $1,400 a year on electricity. A solar energy system can save you tens of thousands of dollars in electricity costs over the lifetime of the panels.

• Increases the resale value of your home: A 2015 study by researchers at UC-Berkeley found that homebuyers on average were willing to pay $4,000 more per kilowatt of solar capacity when buying a solar-equipped house. This means that a standard 6-kWh solar energy system can add $24,000 to your home’s resale value.

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• Sell excess power back to the electrical grid: Grid-connected solar energy users can sell excess solar-generated power back to their utility through a process called net metering.

• Solar incentives can reduce your cost burden: There are a number of federal and state solar incentive programs that can shave tens of thousands of dollars off of the initial upfront cost of a solar install.

• Flexible financing tools: Solar-specific financing tools, like solar loans, allow you to realize returns on your solar investment while avoiding significant upfront costs.

• Reduces your carbon footprint: The average U.S. household uses about 11,000 kWh of electricity annually, which is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from 9,000 pounds of burned coal. Producing this power through renewable sources like solar can dramatically reduce your household’s carbon footprint, and help reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

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Cons and Considerations
• Solar energy systems can be costly: Solar energy systems can be cost prohibitive for homeowners who don’t qualify for federal and state solar incentives or who lack access to solar financing options. It is important to weigh the upfront costs against the long-term energy savings potential when evaluating your solar options.

• Solar energy is an intermittent energy source: Solar energy production fluctuates based on time of day and season, so unless you have a solar battery to store your energy and smooth out the fluctuations, your panels will do you little good during off-peak times.

• Rack-mounted panels can be aesthetically unappealing: Traditional rack-mounted solar panels are not very visually appealing, but new-age solar products with a sleek design, like solar shingles and solar tiles, can help to mitigate this issue.

• Little benefit if your electricity costs are already low: If your electricity costs are already low, you won’t benefit much financially by getting a solar energy system.

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• Not a good fit if you plan to move soon: The payback period for most solar energy systems is between 5-10 years. If you know you will move from your home in the near future, then solar panels make little financial sense for you.

Ultimately, whether solar is a good fit for you will vary depending on your particular situation. Like with any major investment, you should do your homework and evaluate all the pros and cons associated with residential solar energy systems. Be sure to check out all of the resources on Solar Tribune to help make the decision-making process easier.

Costs and Savings of Solar

The improving economics of solar panels continue to draw in more and more homeowners to the residential solar marketplace.

Let’s take a look at some of the basic financial considerations to keep in mind when considering a residential solar energy system.

How Much Will I Pay?

The price of installing a solar energy system in the U.S. varies based on location, but here are some baseline assumptions to help get an idea of what the average residential solar energy system will cost you.
Owners of solar energy systems are able to shave off a good bit of the initial upfront expenses thanks to attractive federal and state tax credit programs. For instance, the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows owners of solar panels to deduct 30% of the install costs from their federal taxes. Visit our solar incentives page to learn more about solar-based tax credits and incentive programs.

After accounting for the ITC, the average upfront cost of a solar panel install can be reduced down to $9,800-$13,300. Additional state tax credits can drive that cost even lower.

There are a number of websites, like Solar-Estimate.org and SolarPowerRocks.com, that offer a more detailed state-by-state snapshot of what a solar energy system is likely to cost you based on where you live. To compare the prices of solar companies us our quote tool, see our guide to the Top 10 Solar Companies in the U.S.

How Much Will I Save?

Regardless of whether you buy or lease your solar panels, you will enjoy serious energy cost savings over the life of the panels that will make your investment more than worth it.

Your annual energy savings from having a solar energy system will vary based on your location, electricity usage, and other factors. Still, the typical payback period for a residential solar system is between 5-10 years.

Using those assumptions, a solar energy system that costs between $9,800 and $13,300 after federal tax credits would pay for itself in under 10 years. From there, your solar panels would essentially be making you money by reducing your future electricity costs. Solar panels can typically last for 25-30 years, so your savings could potentially be significant.

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Assuming annual home electricity costs of $1,400, a 5 kWh solar energy system costing $9,800 would be paid for in 7 years, while a system costing $13,300 would be paid for in 9.5 years.

After payback, a typical 5 kWh system with a useful life of 25 years would result in energy savings ranging from $21,700 to $25,200. The post-payback savings of a system with a 30 year useful life would be even greater, ranging from $28,700 to $32,200.

Solar homeowners can further improve their financial picture by taking advantage of net metering, a process that allows you to sell excess energy back to the grid.

It is worth noting that the above calculations are based on a static assumption of annual household electricity costs being $1,400. In reality, the cost of residential electricity continues to outpace the rate of inflation, with no signs of letting up. Since 2003, the average price per kWh of residential electricity increased by almost 50%.

Tips to install solar panel

Let us talk about how to install solar panels. You can use the services of an EPC installer or can do-it-yourself. Given below is the solar installation guide for an off grid solar system which is simple and easy.

A prospective solar buyer can read this blog and understand how to install solar panels on his own at his home. We have already discussed about 1 kW rooftop solar system installation.

Here is the simple steps to install solar panels
Step – 1: Solar Panel Installation Made Easy
Step – 2: Assembly of Solar Panels
Step – 3: Electrical Wiring
Step – 4: Connection between Solar Panel and Solar Inverter
Step – 5: Connection between Solar Inverter and Solar Battery
Step – 6: Connection between Solar Inverter and Grid
Step – 7: Start Solar Inverter through Solar Panel & Grid
Step – 8: See Solar Panel Installation Video
Step – 1: Solar Panel Installation Made Easy

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Which direction should be the solar panel face?

The mounting structure provides the base for the entire solar system so make sure it is sturdy and properly fastened to the rooftops of your house or commercial establishment. A typical mounting structure is made up of aluminium. The performance of the solar panels depends upon the direction in which these panels are placed. The best direction to face solar panels is south, since here they receive the maximum sunlight. East and West directions also work well. North is the only direction that we should not want to put our panels on. Since India lies in Northern Hemisphere, south direction works best here.
Rooftop Solar Mounting Structure is used to fix solar panel with it. You can fix both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panel with it. This is ready to use structure of 1 kw, offered by loomsolar.com. You can connect 4 panel of 270 watt.

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In Which angle should you install solar panels?

The Solar panel tilt angle (the angle between the horizontal ground and the solar module) should be decided according to the latitude of your location anywhere in the world. It is generally believed that the modules placed at a tilt angle equivalent to the latitude of the place, would generate the maximum energy output. You can also use a solar tracker to increase the conversion efficiency.

Here are the latitudes of leading cities in India –

States –

Zone -1: J&K, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand – 30-360
Zone – 2: Rajasthan, UP, Delhi, Haryana, Bihar, North EASTERN STATES – 24-300
Zone – 3: Gujarat, MP, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa – 18-240
Zone – 4: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, AP, Telengana, Kerala – 12-180
Step – 2: Assemble Solar Panels

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Once the solar structure is fixed accurately, we will connect it with solar modules. We should ensure that all nuts and bolts of solar modules are fixed with solar structure so that it is properly secured and lasts long.
Step-3: Electrical Wiring
MC4 connectors are used to connect solar panels. These are universal connectors and can be connected with any type of solar panels. The solar array wiring becomes simpler and faster using MC4 connectors.
Few modern solar modules come with wire leads that have MC4 connectors on the ends, else they have a built-in junction box at the back with wires jotting out. In a series connection you will have to connect the positive wire from one module to the negative wire of another module. In a parallel connection, you connect the positive to positive and negative to negative leads. A parallel connection maintains the voltage of each panel while a series connection increases the voltage in order to match it with the battery bank.
Step-4: Connection between Solar Panel and Solar Inverter

In the picture given below, the backside of an inverter is shown where solar panel wire is connected. Connect the positive wire from the solar panel with the positive inverter terminal and the negative wire with negative terminal of the inverter.
There are other connections too like battery wire connection and output wire connection with the inverter. In all, Solar panel, Solar Battery and Grid input are connected with the solar inverter to produce electricity. The output of a series string of solar modules is connected to the input of the inverter. Make sure the inverter is turned off while the connections are being done.

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Step-5: Connection between Solar Inverter and Solar Battery
In an off grid solar system, Battery is mandatory where it is used to store power backup. This battery is connected with solar inverter to recharge it with solar panel and grid. The positive terminal of the battery is connected with the positive of the inverter and vice versa.
Step-6: Connection between Solar Inverter and Grid
In order to connect the inverter to the grid simply plug it in in the main power switch board, so that it gets power from the grid. The output wire is also connected with board that is supplying electricity in home.
In order to calculate the excess energy generated from the solar system we need to install a metering device. We need to connect the positive wire from the metering device with the line terminal and the negative wire to the neutral terminal of the inverter.

Step-7: Start Solar Inverter through Solar Panel & Grid
After all the connections are done, we switch on the mains. There is a digital display which shows the total solar unit generated during the day, what is supply volt and current (amp) from solar panel etc. In the picture below is shown the front side of Microtek solar inverter.

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