Fossil fuels such as coal and oil are depleting at an alarming rate, causing many countries to look for alternative resources. Solar energy represents one of the collection of various renewable energy sources and in contemporary society, solar energy is being harnessed not just for use in industries and commercial buildings but also in our homes.
The power of the sun can now help fuel homes in many parts of the world. All a home owner requires is to have solar panels installed onto the roof of their homes to catch and store solar energy. This energy is converted to electricity or solar photovoltaic, and for solar water heating, enabling the home owner to become almost if not entirely independent of traditional energy.
There are always stipulations and the key to getting the most of this alternative source of energy can be simpy be down to location. If you are like me and live under a cloud, you may not get the benefits so ideally, it is always good to be located in a region that gets a lot of sunshine! A house facing the south would be ideal as well.
Types of Solar Technology
There are two types of domestic solar technology:
- Solar PV (photovoltaic) – This type is used to generate electricity.
- Solar thermal- This type is used to heat water
More and more people are installing solar panels to power their homes.
Components of PV System
The following is a list of components found in a basic PV system:
- PV panels: These are the most important and expensive part of the system. They can cost from $2.40 per watt to about $5 per watt. Placement and mounting of the panels must be done precisely by authorized personnel so that the PV system provides optimal performance.
- Mounting equipment: The panels must be mounted to get maximum sunshine throughout the year. It must be strong to last at least 25 years or more.
- Tracking mounts: These are required to mechanically move the PV panels through the day, so that the panels are always facing the sun.
- Wiring and fuse box connections: These are required to connect the panels to the household main fuse box.
- DC-to-AC inverters: Inverters are required to covert signals from the panels into 120V AC (or 240 V AC). Quality of inverter must be very good to have reliable service.
- Disconnect switches: These are essential for safety purposes and must be installed within easy access.
- Utility power meters: There are conventional power meters and digital meters available in the market today to suit specific needs of homeowners.
Cost Making Homes Solar
The exact cost of a solar power system varies depending on several factors such as different types and sizes of the roof, as well as the different energy needs of individual homes. If a home has a hot tub and an electric car, the home would probably need a larger solar system than a neighboring home of the same size and style.
Solar panel manufacturers state that an average solar system including panels and installation can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000. Studies reveal that the average home uses about 3,400kWh/y, so a 2.5kWp system would provide little above half the power needed for the average home.
Despite the initial high cost, this is justified by the manufacturers by claiming that homeowners will make a substantial saving from energy costs year after year.
The installation of solar power systems may have a large upfront cost but, in the long term, massive savings can be made.
Benefits of Solar Homes
The main advantage of a solar power system installation would be that it offers a reduction in the cost of electricity.
The other key benefits are as follows:
- Solar heating systems use free heat from the sun
- The excess power produced by the PV system can be sold to the utility company, giving the homeowner an opportunity for some profit in the long term
- No dirty fossil fuel toxins
- No power outages in storms
- Solar panels are sturdy equipment that has a long service life
- The surface of the panel is coated with a protective film and rainwater usually washes any dirt and dust away
- Only minimal maintenance is required to ensure the panels are dust-and debris-free
- Help reduce the carbon footprint
- Solar systems are green, renewable heating systems that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions
- US homeowners using these systems enjoy generous 25-year government feed-in tariffs (FIT), or subsidies, which literally mean solar panel owners get paid to own them. This scheme was introduced to encourage 'green' power.
Solar power is definitely a viable option and homeowners can benefit in the long run especially if local governments provide good incentives and subsidies. To make the best use of the solar power systems at home, expert advice can be sought.
Sources and Further Reading