Have you been considering solar panels* for your home to reduce your energy bills? Sure you have. You’re a Sustainablog reader, after all, and solar panels are the new granite countertops (in terms of adoption). But there is a bit more to it than some people realize so Jane and I are going to show you some simple steps that you can take before you take the plunge and install solar panels on your home.
First off you need a checklist of variables to check to make sure your site is acceptable.
- Do you have a shady site, or full sun?
- Have you done a simple needs analysis of your energy bill?
- Do you understand the technical terms involved?
- Have you visited a home with solar panels?
Let’s start of with a visit to someone who now owns them. Someone in your general area probably has an installation you could visit. Just be polite and ask at the door if they could let you see them and ask a couple questions. We get a lot of visitors to our home just this way; it really is not a bother either, as we like educating families on their renewable energy choices.
You will notice usually that the array is very large in that they take up a large surface area. Usually 20 or 30 panels are needed for most home applications, and all that space needs to be in full sun for the entire day for them to be effective at generating power for your needs.
Even a slight shading can cause a dramatic lowering of power production. Several inline inverters and other components are available to lessen the effect, but it is still wise to install them only in full sun if possible.
How to Determine How Many Solar Panels Your Home Needs
Take a look at your energy bill next. From this you will be able to figure out exactly how much electricity you and your family uses and this will tell you how many solar panels you will need and what kind of return on investment (ROI) solar generates. It is measured in Kilowatt hours (the amount of hours you use 1000 watts of power in your home).
It may come as a shock, but most installations are in the 3 to 5 kilowatt range and produce about 30 kwh at most each day. You may currently be using far more than this and will need to embrace both conservation measures in your home, and grid tie options. One other possibility that we highly recommend is an additional wind generator*, making your home a hybrid renewable energy producer. This makes for a much more reliable power source.
All of this talk of kilowatts and power sources may have you scrambling for a dictionary or some technical help. It is perfectly fine to admit that you do not know something, and seek to learn. Education about the terms used and the equipment you need to do this is very important. Try and find someone who knows what they are talking about, who lives with renewable energy themselves, and has been through years of solar and wind power usage. Learn about the benefits of a free solar consultation here.
Take the first step you will be glad you did. Finding good, reliable information about solar panels can be difficult to find at times, it’s hard to know who is giving you the truth and who is just talking.
For more information you can contact us here: Solar Panels
Once you’ve determined your ready to go solar, check out our extensive listings of solar products, including grid-tie kits, solar inverters, and solar heaters.
*Links to pages in sustainablog’s Green Choices product comparison engine