Solar power has never been more available and affordable in the United States. Ample capacity to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes now exists, reports the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. If you're a homeowners considering solar power keep reading to learn what your options are, what you can expect to pay, and what benefits you'll gain from solar power.
Solar Power 101: The Basics
Solar power is a renewable energy source that convers sunlight into usable electricity. According to measurements made by NASA’s most recent satellite missions, the sun generates about 1,360 watts of solar energy per square meter. A regular incandescent light bulb uses 100 watts or fewer, and a single square meter is about the size of a bath towel. According to NASA, one square meter of solar energy can power a refrigerator for a full day.
Homeowners can capture solar energy with panels that use photo voltaic conversion. Sunshine hits the solar panel, which absorb photons into its cells, separating the electrons from the atoms to create electricity flow. Every solar panel has multiple photo voltaic cells. This process allow you to take advantage of the sun’s energy to power your home, from lights to appliances, water heating and your other electrical needs.
Pros and Cons of Solar Power for Your Home
More than a million solar installations are throughout the United States. When considering if this type of energy is right for your home, check out the pros and cons first.
Solar Power Pros
- Renewable and sustainable energy source.
- Environmentally friendly. The use of solar panels doesn’t generate any pollution.
- Accessible. More than 9,000 solar companies are throughout the U.S., with a presence in 50 states.
- More affordable. The cost to install solar panels has dropped by more than 60 percent in the last decade, reports SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association).
- Low maintenance. Most solar power systems for homes need little maintenance beyond routine cleanings, performed about twice yearly.
Solar Power Cons
- Not all homes have suitable rooftops for panels, or they may have too much shade from nearby trees.
- Sun is a non-continuous energy source. Sunlight is not available 24/7, and cloudy, overcast days also means little-to-no solar energy is captured.
- Some solar power manufacturing processes produce levels of greenhouse gas emissions that may be associated with pollution.
What Does Solar Power Cost Homeowner?
The costs of a solar power systems for a residential home vary depending on the size of the home and type of installation. Beyond the cost of the hardware, which includes the panels, you will incur other costs. These include but are not limited to installation fees, permits and financing. Many states offer solar power incentives for homeowners such as tax breaks. Homeowners may also apply for various federal grant programs specific to solar power installation.