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FAQ About Solar Energy

1) How does solar energy work?

Everyone understands that sunlight warms whatever surface it comes in contact with; that is the basic premise for solar energy. Therefore when the sun shines on Solar cells on solar panels, they absorb its energy causing a chemical reaction that generates electricity. An easy way to explain this is that solar energy is also used in plants. We have all learned that plants absorb sunlight and turn it into food (the process of photosynthesis).

2) How do solar panels work?
Silicon is the raw material used to make solar cells. It's the second most abundant element on Earth. A solar cell converts sunlight into electricity. Photons from the sun strike the solar panel made of a semiconductor material. The incident photons are absorbed by the electrons in the silicon semiconductor. The big panels of a solar cell are sometimes referred to as the collectors because they do just that - collect sunlight.

3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of installing solar power for your home or business?
One of the most obvious advantages of solar power installation is money, the money you would save by essentially creating your own electricity. You typically don’t have to worry about running out of power because unless the sun ceases to shine, your solar panels will always create power! It is also extremely environmentally friendly. Solar power keeps the air clean and produces zero noise pollution.

4) What are the pros and cons of solar power?
Some pros of solar power are the environmental factors and we wouldn’t have to rely on other countries for oil as much or deplete our natural resources as much (because solar power could replace the need for oil almost completely). The most obvious disadvantage of solar energy is that is is expensive, almost five times more than what we are using now. Another disadvantage of solar panel installation is sole dependency on the sun. This is probably the most obvious setback when talking about solar panels for electricity. This issue has a new solution; however, as many solar panels have the capability of holding batteries so that they can still provide power throughout the night during cloudy days. This isn’t a problem for most of the U.S. but many places that cannot receive direct sunlight will not be able to probably use solar energy.

5) How much does it cost to install solar power for your home?
Depending on the size of the house and the kilowatt system that is needed, it can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $7,500 to install. The whole process CAN be expensive and could even cost you thousands. Depending on the size of your house, and whether you want your whole house to run on solar energy can cost as much as $20k to $50k! It is important to understand that it is the solar set-up and the materials themselves that cost money, actually running the system is nearly free, and can actually earn you money. There are also solar tax breaks that can reduce your initial cost (see below)

6) Are there any tax breaks for installing solar power in my home or business?
Speaking in federal terms, one would receive a 30% tax credit of the gross costs at installation. The $2,000 cap on the 30% federal tax credit for solar water heating systems has been removed. Solar water heating systems, other than those for pools or spas, are now eligible for a full 30% tax credit against the systems cost.

7) Can you get paid back by your utility company for having an abundance of solar power for your home?

Many cities and states have incentives of all sorts for the use of solar panels and solar energy. In some states there are laws that require your utility company to buy back any unused solar energy. To find out about your area, you can visit the website http://www.dsireusa.org/.

8) How much money will a solar water heater save me on my electric bill for my home or business?
The average house consumes electricity at a rate of 1kW. Since there are about 730 hours in each month and the average price of a kW/hr of electricity is about 10 cents, an average monthly electric bill should be around $73 for 730 kW/hr of electricity. However it is difficult to say how much you will save with a solar water heating system. That depends on several factors, including how much you already pay your local utility for electricity or natural gas. Another factor to consider is how much sun that each state sees each day.

9) How do I get more information about solar power?
Switching to solar power is a wise and positive decision that we are making towards protecting our environment. You can find information by browsing our site or filling out our solar form on the right. By filling out our form, we will be able to provide all the specifics you need for solar panel installation based on your individual unique variables (sun in your area, size of your house, solar tax breaks in your state, etc

10) Do solar panels work at night or if it’s cloudy?
The solar output power will be reduced. If you are relying on your solar panels alone and don't have other sources of power this can be an issue. You would need to have a battery for backup, this would also occur at night. This way during the day, the solar panels soak up the energy and then the battery would store it for use at night or during a cloudy day.
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