Introduction to Solar Panels


With a new awareness for our environment, many homeowners are choosing to look for greener options to provide energy to their home. One way to do this is to install solar energy panels on or outside your home. While almost every homeowner has paid the electric company for energy in the past, residential solar energy is a relatively new trend. An introduction to solar panels could provide you with the information you need to make decisions about green energy for your home.

A solar panel consists of a series of photovoltaic or solar cells that absorb energy from the sun. During a process known as the “photoelectric effect,” energy from the sun knocks electrons loose from their atoms. The electrons then travel in into a circuit within the solar panel, forming an electrical current. The amount of electrical energy produced is dependent on the amount of sunlight. As such, more electrical energy will be produced on days with more hours of direct sunlight. Although solar panels work on cloudy days, the process is much more effective on sunny days.

While it only takes one solar cell to produce energy, the amount produced is tiny. Typically, about 40 solar cells are combined to produce a solar panel or module. More panels can be added as needed to produce more energy. A single solar panel has an output between 10 and 300 watts. Due to their convenient modular nature, additional solar panels can be added, either on the roof your home or on the ground, to produce additional power. While 10-20 panels would be needed to provide only solar electrical power to your home, many people install a few panels to offset their electrical use.

As mentioned above, solar panels can be attached to your home or mounted on the ground. Many people choose to have the panels mounted on their roof, as this frees up their lawn space. However, if you have a large yard, mounting solar panels in the ground may be the best idea. By mounting solar panels on posts in the yard you can ensure that your panels are at the correct south-facing angle to absorb the most sun. Additionally, solar panels can be mounted on posts that track the sun throughout the day. Moving to follow the sun will ensure that the maximum amount of solar energy is absorbed and harnessed for your use.

You can choose to use your solar panels off the grid, or connect them to an electrical distribution system. If you are on the grid, most electrical companies will reimburse you for any power that your solar panels send back into the grid. You can also choose to send additional solar power into large batteries within your household. Energy absorbed on sunnier days can be used at night or during times of lower sunlight.

One important factor to consider when making decisions about solar panels is cost. While we would all love to utilize solar energy, the expense can be a mitigating factor. Modules begin at about $225 for a 30 watt structure and go up to about $1300 for a 165 watt structure. This wide range of costs make it possible for nearly everyone to supplement their electrical use with solar power. Additionally, tax credits from the federal and your state government could provide you with additional savings.

Although there will be an initial outlay for the solar panels, using solar energy provides many benefits. Solar energy will not have a negative impact on global warming, smog, or acid rain. Additionally, despite the cost, solar panels will eventually save you money on your electrical bill. Utilizing solar panels will make you feel good about your energy use, and can help you contribute to our planet’s health.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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