Best Solar Panels Reviews
In order to switch from traditional electricity to a home fully (or mostly) powered by the sun, you’ll need to invest upwards of $10,000. The sum can be intimidating, particularly if you’re not yet used to the way solar panels work.
The starter kits reviewed below feature some of the best solar panels for home use, but they can be acquired for a much lighter initial investment. They’re a great way to get familiar with the technology so that you can then decide whether you want to go solar all the way.
Why Choose Solar Energy for Your Home?
As they experience climate changes, but also rising prices of electricity, more homeowners are switching to solar panels. In theory, solar panels reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower your electricity bill, and set you on the path of being energy independent. The main benefit of harnessing solar energy is that the process does not produce any environmentally adverse side-effects. Once installed, the technology requires no supervision and little to no maintenance, which makes it a low-commitment high-reward energy source. More importantly, solar panels for home use give you the ability to use less electricity from harmful supplies. Currently, the most polluting energy sources are coal plants, natural gas, and nuclear facilities.
However, solar panels for homes are not always a sure-fire investment. Before signing any purchase agreements, there are a few key elements that determine whether a domestic photovoltaic (PV) installation is a sound investment on your part. These factors include whether you live in a geographic area that gets direct sunlight for a decent amount of time every day, the cost and provenance of native electricity, the cost of installation, as well as the existence of government incentives for switching to green energy. In some parts of the world, you can even connect your panels to the public grid and sell any excess energy you produce.
Is Solar Energy the Right Choice for You?
Before you browse and compare solar panel reviews, you might want to carefully evaluate the elements that render a PV system profitable. Without enough exposure to the sun, not even the best solar panels can save you money and help reduce gas emissions. Moreover, you may find that most of your electricity is generated by hydroelectric and wind turbines.
Location and Sun Exposure
Location is crucial when it comes to solar energy. PV panels rely on sunlight exposure to produce electricity. Latitude, sunlight hours, cloud covers, aerosols, elevations, orientations, and shading all play a role with regards to your potential to generate solar energy. Without a doubt, the best locations for solar technology are the places that get the most sunlight exposure with the least amount of cloud covers. In the United States, several areas in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and New Mexico are blessed with abundant sunshine that guarantees a maximum return on solar investments.
Roof Size and Orientation
Homebuilders and real-estate developers rarely think of optimizing for solar energy when they commission house projects. The direction that your roof faces, also known as the azimuth, is the game changer. South and West facing is currently the best way to go. Since many roofs are multi-faceted, there are high chances that you have some slopes already. In addition, the bigger your roof, the better. An average of 300ft is the optimum surface for a system that has about 20 panels, each capable of generating 250Watts.
Your energy requirements and costs will directly impact the viability of investing in some of the best solar panels for homes. The more expensive your electricity, the higher the odds that you’ll offset your initial costs and then accumulate some handsome savings. New England and California, for instance, are known to have the highest rates per kilowatt hour in the United States. Although the national average is around 13 cents per kWh, this will often fluctuate according to energy source availability and consumption. Many homeowners are also purchasing solar battery banks to store any excess energy, which renders them 100% energy independent.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels?
On average, the purchase and installation of solar panels for homes will cost anywhere between $24,000 and $35,000 for a system that is capable of generating between 8 and 12kW. What is essential about this price is that you can significantly reduce it with a federal tax credit. The ITC scheme was extended by Congress at the end of 2018 by an additional 5 years. After reductions, the $24,000 to $35,000 can be turned into a highly affordable $17,000 to $25,000, which can mean almost $10,000 worth of savings on your end. In addition, there are state rebates and local tax incentives you can cumulate with the federal credit to give you an even better price.
Furthermore, each 1kW of solar panels for home use adds an average of $5,900 to the resale value of your home. Given the average cost of installing a 5kW system, you can actually make a good profit just by reselling your property once the solar panels are in place. More importantly, you’ll be able to save anywhere from $500 to $1,500 every year on your energy bill, depending on your location, how much you consume, as well as local kW rates.
PPAs and Leases for Solar Panels
When looking for solar installers, you’ll find that many vendors offer the possibility to make a solar lease or engage in a power purchase agreement (PPA). These have become common ways to reduce your electricity bill, since the contracts are straightforward, low-maintenance engagements on your part. Although some agreements require no money from the client, others may ask you to make a down payment. The obvious advantage of these options is that you can reduce the cost of solar panels and your utility bill at the same time. However, the major drawback is that you do not own the solar system installed on your property, so you will not benefit from any tax incentives either.
Another option that few people consider is purchasing a starter kit. Adepts of DIY can sift through solar panel reviews and, once they’re familiar with the technology, they can select the best solar panel starter kit for their specific needs. Upgrade options include more panels and an energy bank that can store additional electricity they’re not using. Some energy providers even allow them to export excess electricity to their grid, so they can make even more money from their solar investments.
Before You Buy Solar Panels
The most important things you should consider before you buy a solar power installation are the level of sun exposure you get and the suitability of your roof(s). Secondly, you should estimate the cost of installation and maintenance, how much money you can make by giving excess energy to the grid (if possible), as well as how much you’ll be saving over a 10/20-year timeframe. A few additional factors to consider are the following:
The efficiency of a solar power system is determined by how much of the sun’s energy the latter is capable of converting into electricity given ideal conditions. It is a fact that even the best solar panels will become less efficient in time and this variable is commonly factored in by solar power calculators that estimate how much your investment is worth. Recently, manufacturers have been adjusting their technology to increase conversion efficiency, which has led to the development of solar cells in the shape of micro-pyramids.
If you want to maximize the efficiency of solar energy, the temperature coefficient of your solar panels can also make a difference. The coefficient is the result of the percentile decrease in output for every additional 1 degree Celsius (°C) of heat. For instance, solar panel reviews often mention a coefficient of -0.3 to -0.5%/°C. Their average temperature for producing maximum energy can range between 15°C (59 F) and 35°C (95 F). For every extra degree above their range, their energy generating potential will decrease by the specified amount.
Materials (or equipment) warranty
Typically, solar power installations have equipment and a performance guarantees. Despite the fact that PPA or lease contracts calculate a 70% performance efficiency, your panels will likely decrease in output by no more than 10% every 10 years. Product warranty concerns those scenarios wherein the system sustains damage in any form that is not a result of misuse, manufacturing defects, but also premature wear.
A monitoring setup is instrumental towards your ability convert your solar panels ratings into raw performance. Depending on the product of your choice, manufacturers will likely offer a proprietary system that helps you keep track of energy consumption, generation, usage trends, as well as various strategies for optimizing use. This is an often underrated aspect of solar panel comparisons, because without one of these, you won’t be able to tell whether your solar power system is operating at peak performance.
Overall, although solar power is widely recognized as a viable domestic energy investment, there are several fundamental elements you need to review before committing to a purchase. From geographic sunlight exposure in your region to governmental tax credits, rooftop position, and native electricity costs, a more thorough analysis of your circumstances is necessary before you can estimate the viability of a solar installation. Given the right conditions, the right solar panels for your home can potentially make you 100% energy independent.