7 Pitfalls to consider when installing solar panels

The benefit of installing solar panels are great and varied: from saving energy on your electric bill to saving the earth; however, it’s an important decision to go solar, and this decision should be made carefully with all available information. There’s no pros without the cons so to say, so what exactly are some of the pitfalls of installing solar panels.

  • Cost: Yes, installing solar panels does require some cost. The initial investment to purchase solar modules or solar shingles can be quite costly; however, there’s so many state and federal incentives that will pay you back for your investment. So as long as you can afford the initial installation and your energy bill is over $150 a month, you should certainly consider going solar. The typical home installation ranges 3 to 7 kilowatts and costs anywhere from $18,000 to $40,000.
  • Time: Sometimes savings might take a while before it shows. With some systems, you’ll save the day the system goes live, and other systems provide greater returns over time.
  • Efficiency: The efficiency of solar panels has many different factors: trees, angle of roof, size of roof, temperature, latitude, degradation of panels and orientation. Current efficiency ranges around 18% with a quality solar panel.
  • Variety: Sometimes variety is the spice of life, sometimes it isn’t. There’s many different styles and types of solar panels, and that can be a positive or negative trait. If you have a roof with limited space, sometimes finding the right solar panel can be tricky. It is a good idea to consult with a professional before any solar roof installation.
  • Applying for rebates/incentives: The amount of Federal and State rebates and incentives are numerous, but sometimes it’s difficult to wade through them all and even more difficult and tedious to apply for them. Funding options can take more than 30% off the cost of installation, so it’s important to check for these incentives despite how evasive and tedious they might be. Check with a solar services provider for options – let them work for you in finding the best funding options.
  • Finding reliable installation: There’s many installers out there, but are they reliable? Check out http://www.solarreviews.com to find a reliable solar installer near you. Read the reviews and pay close attention to any negative ones especially!
  • Making sure you have the right building permits: You must make sure that your installation meets the building code requirements of your city, county and state. If not, you must revise your solar installation plan to accommodate these regulations. Find a complete solar solution that can help you with this and the installation at the same time.

Solar Panel Installation Tips

Now that we’ve talked about solar modules, solar shingles and photovoltaics, you’re now ready to install your solar panel! At some point in the future, we’ll talk about costs and incentive savings, but for now, we’ll just focus on where and how to install your solar panels.

Position and placement of your solar panels are just as important as something like your garden – you wouldn’t put your garden under the shade of the garage overhang, would you? Of course not! Flowers need sunlight!

The positioning of solar panels is important because you want to get the maximum amount of sun exposure. It’s important to measure, research and possibly even consult with a professional before installation, as you want to make sure you do such an investment properly.

As seen here, most solar panels are placed at an angle.

solar-energy-300x225 There is a variety of locations where you can place solar panels: rooftops, on the ground, over parking lots and corridors and even close to some walls. The angle at which the solar panel is installed depends on where the property gets the most sunlight, the possibility of exposure to the elements and the strength of the roof or other objects that the solar panels are attached to. The last thing you want is your investment crashing to the ground! Again, it’s always a safe bet to get a professional to consult with you on the installation, even if they aren’t the ones doing the installation.


Solar Shingles: Affordable and practical?

We have discussed photovoltaic cells and groups of cells called modules. Now we’re delve a little deeper into modules and discuss a module type that has been gaining in popularity and lowering in cost: the solar shingle.

Prior to 2005, many of those who have chosen to go solar have opted for modules that bolt onto the roof or into the group, simply because solar shingles were more costly, but this has since changed. As demand has increased, the cost of input products changed and manufacturing of solar cells became more efficient, the price has decreased considerably. There’s much less excuses for not going solar!

Can solar shingles function as regular shingles? Absolutely. The solar shingles aren’t there for vanity’s sake. They are made to withstand typical weather conditions like regular shingles. They fight against brutal storms. They are flexible and practical.

Dow Chemical Company is one of the primary manufacturers in solar shingles. The first ones appeared in 2005, but Dow has perfected the manufacturing over time and, since 2011, the price of solar shingles has dropped dramatically. Dow’s estimate that the solar shingle market value will reach almost $5 billion by 2015 and $10 billion by 2020.

Solar shingles are typically 12×86 inches and have a dark, purplish-blue color. It can sometimes be mixed intermittently with regular shingles or other special installation, and people choose this option when going solar because of its aesthetic value. Dow’s new Powerhouse line introduces new technology all the time – recently it was the Copper Indium Gallium Selenide solar cell. These are not only efficient but can mix in with the regular asphalt panels of the roof shingles.

There’s significant savings in going solar. Dow reports that approximately 350 solar shingles can shave 40-60% off electricity bills. With the high cost of electricity, this adds up to huge savings. The cost of installation will pay for itself over and over again. Installations can amount to as much as $20,000, but state and federal incentives can make the cost of installation half that amount. In fact, twenty-seven states now have some pretty hefty incentives. The Federal government offers 30% tax credit with no purchasing limit on solar equipment.

Solar shingles are widely available. As of early 2014, Dow solar shingles are available in Louisiana, North Carolina, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

With the lower cost of solar shingles available in material that is more aesthetically pleasing, there’s no better time to go solar than now.

Solar Panel School – What is a solar panel?

We have previously learned the basics of photovoltaics and the anatomy of photovoltaic cells, now we’ll delve into the more complex design and function of solar cells. A group of solar cells, called a solar panel, is the basis for all commercial and residential solar energy systems. Most cells use crystalline silicon or cadmium telluride that is cut into thin wafers. The conducting wires are most often made of silver, copper or another transition metal. This group of solar cells are mounted on a supporting structure, such as a piece of metal and made into an assembled and packaged solar panel. The panels can be used on their own or as part of a much more complex photovoltaic system to generate solar power for larger residences or commercial properties.
Mounting systems can be fixed on a roof or on a pole above the ground. A solar panel can also be affixed to a roof. Some panels have solar trackers that tilt to get the best light exposure.
Solar Panel Efficiency
You’ve probably heard much about percentage efficiency for some solar panels. This is because photovoltaic modules cannot cover some types of light, specifically ultraviolet, infrared and diffuse light; therefore, some of the sun’s energy is wasted by solar panels. The efficiency increases if the panels are illuminated by monochromatic light. Some panel designs that have split light into wavelengths and have those wavelengths shine onto cell specifically made for that cell have increased cell efficiency by over 50 percent. The efficiency for most current products is around 22 percent in newer products and about 12-15 percent on much older modules. Most modules are able to effectively sustain through heavy temperature and precipitation conditions.
New technology
Some companies having started building smart modules that have individually tracking devices for each module and can optimize power more successfully. New technology has allowed the module to continue a state of efficiency even if one or more of the cells in completely in the shade.
Now we can recycle many parts of a solar module if it starts to lose functionality. Up to 97 percent of the materials are recyclable. After removing the aluminum frame, a mill crushes the glass, plastics and metals – all of these materials then get distributed to manufacturers who use that corresponding material. The recycling process for cadmium telluride models preserves 90 percent of the glass and 90 percent of the semiconductor material.
Solar panels may also have rebates for those who purchase them, so it’s becoming cheaper and more efficient to purchase a solar module.