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How Do Solar Panels Work On A Home?

In recent years, solar energy usage has grown tremendously throughout the world with the need for alternative energy solutions. But, still the sun remains an underutilized natural energy source that can power our homes, cars, and electric grids.

The growing adoption of residential solar energy use has helped the growth of the solar energy industry. Solar has become a popular choice for homeowners looking to make an investment in their home and save on energy costs.

The cost of solar energy has been declining over the past few years with improvements in efficiencies in the industry. And, now with new financing options, you can put solar panels on your home around the U.S. with no downpayment! Homeowners are starting to realize the affordability of residential solar, and the benefits that come with it.

Homeowners that go with solar can stand to eliminate energy costs for their home (once they’re paid off and at their break even point). Once you reach that break even point, you are essentially generating free, clean energy for your home. Solar users also cut the carbon footprint of their home, and get to feel good about helping the planet and live sustainably.

At this point, you may be curious about how solar panels would work on a house like yours. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know in order to get started with home solar energy.

So, How Do Solar Panels Work For A House?

For a residential home, solar panels are typically installed on the roof of a house. Brackets are installed to the frame of the roof that hold the solar system in place. This system is typically designed by your solar energy contractor based on a number of factors like size and angle of your roof, your location, amount of sunlight you receive, and your home’s energy needs. Once the solar arrays have been configured and installed, they are wired together and connected to your home’s energy panel by a certified electrician. Connecting to the panel is the way solar energy will be transferred from sunlight to usable energy to power your home.

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

Solar panels are made up of a number of photovoltaic cells (PV cells) that are created from silicon layers that each produce a positive and negative charge. These layers interact with one another to create an electrical field where energy can be created.

These components of the solar panels work to generate the flow of electricity. Sunlight is converted to direct current electricity (DC) which is passed along through wiring to an inverter. The inverter takes DC electricity and turns it into a usable form of energy called alternating current (AC). AC is the type of energy your home takes in to use for your everyday needs.

All of this information may be a bit overwhelming so here is a recap to summarize how a solar system works on a house:

  • Group of solar panels called a solar system are installed on your home’s roof to create enough energy to power your home

  • Solar panels made up of PV cells take in sunlight and convert it to DC electricity

  • Panels are wired together and flow to an inverter where the energy is converted to usable AC energy

  • Inverter is wired to your home’s electric panel where the AC energy is pumped to power your home

Now that we have an understanding of how solar panels work to create energy for your home, let’s dive into some other questions about solar panels for your home.

How Much Energy Do Solar Panels Produce?

Depending on the quality of the solar panels you choose to put on your house, they may generate a range of energy. But, most panels today produce somewhere between 250 and 400 watts per panel per hour. Many residential systems have an energy capacity of 1kW to 4kWs.You may be wondering ‘what does this mean’, and ‘how does it apply to solar panels on my home?’. That leads us to our next topic:

How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Power A Home?

How many solar panels you need for your home depends largely on a couple of factors:

  • How much energy does your home need?

  • How much sunlight can your home absorb with solar panels (depends on location)?

These two factors are crucial in determining how many solar panels you would need to effectively power your home. But, we can use an example as a reference point.

An average 1,500 square foot home in an area that gets moderate to above average light would produce enough electricity with 20-25 panels. This is determined by dividing the amount of energy needed by the output of a solar panel.

To get this estimate, you also need to take into account the average solar energy production over a full year because depending on where you live, your home will absorb less sunlight in the winter vs the summer. For an exact estimate of what size your system would need to be, contact a solar energy provider to get a more accurate analysis.

Pros and Cons of Residential Solar Panels

Now we know how solar panels work on a home, and how many you might need (or at least how to calculate it). Next, let’s talk about the benefits and drawbacks of having solar panels on your house.

Benefits of Home Solar Energy

  • Solar panels generate clean, solar energy from a renewable energy source. This also reduces your carbon footprint, or how much carbon you specifically generate into the atmosphere.

  • Save money on electricity bills. As long as your home is generating enough electricity from your solar panels, once your system is paid off, you’ll be generating free electricity for your home. You may even be able to generate a surplus, and sell energy back to the power grid.

  • Tax credits. Several government subsidies exist that incentivize homeowners to add solar to their homes. This can add up to be a considerable savings for your home.

  • Low maintenance. Solar panels require little to no maintenance. Once they’re installed, you shouldn’t have to maintain them other than possibly cleaning them off a couple times per year. Most systems come with warranties that last decades so equipment failures shouldn’t be a concern either.

Drawbacks to Solar Energy

  • Sizable upfront investment. Solar systems range in cost from a few thousand to over ten thousand dollars. But, luckily, there’s many financing options in place that allow you to get started without money down, and the option to pay off over time.

  • Solar panels don’t generate much energy at night. While it’s true they don’t contribute much in the evening, panels work all day and if you use a battery, can store a surplus to make sure you’re generating energy throughout the day.

  • Can’t install solar yourself. It may be tempting to get up there and pull off a DIY solar project, but the truth is, it’s best left to the professionals. Working with electricity is dangerous, and you’ll want to use a certified electrician and solar contractor to safely and properly install your solar system.

  • Roof may not be right for solar. Unfortunately, not all roofs are created equal. Some are too sloped, don’t receive enough sunlight, or are just too small.

What To Do Next If I Want Solar On My Home

If you’ve read all about how solar panels work on a house and you want more information about what to do next, get in touch with a trusted solar energy provider in your area. Urban Sol Energy works with residents across the U.S. to provide them with clean, affordable solar energy. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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