On-Grid Solar Energy System Efficiency
Many homeowners are making the switch to solar as a way to both save money and be a steward of the environment. Despite this change in thinking, many are still wary about the low efficiency of solar panels. So, what questions must be answered before making the decision to go solar?
- What Is The Average Efficiency Of A Solar Panel?
- How Many Solar Panels Could Power Your Home?
- What Is The Cost Of A Solar System That Could Power Your Home?
What Is The Average Efficiency Of A Solar Panel?
Most solar panels operate with an efficiency of 15 to 19 percent. While this sounds low, keep in mind that the fuel for solar panels is absolutely free. While the efficiency of burning natural gas to create electricity is certainly higher, it must be noted that the fuel being burned also has an associated cost. With solar, no fuel costs more than make up for low efficiency numbers when trying to power a home for an on-grid solar system.
How Many Solar Panels Could Power Your Home?
The number of panels that it would take to power your home depend on a variety of factors. The first is what wattage the panel is. The higher the wattage, the fewer panels you will need to generate enough power to run your home. For this example, lets assume a homeowner is using 360 watt solar panels. The average home can be powered by a roughly 5 kilowatt solar system. So, by dividing 5,000 watts by 360 watts per panel, we see that it would require roughly 14 solar panels of this size. Other factors, such as average number of sunny days, latitude and available roof space also impact your ability to produce enough power from solar. Because many homes are still grid tied, homeowners in certain states can take advantage of net metering. Net metering allows homeowners to export their excess solar power to the grid and then have this power credited back to their electric bill at the end of every month. This way, although you are not generating solar around the clock, you can still take full advantage of all the energy the system does produce without having to invest in battery storage technologies.
What Is The Cost Of A Solar System That Could Power Your Home?
While a variety of factors can influence your total cost to install a solar system, there are a few rules of thumb that can be followed which will at least get you in the ballpark. The first is to consider that, because home solar systems are relatively small in the world of solar, you will be paying a premium for the components that go into the system and the labor to install them. Solar panel installers often charge by the watt meaning that the cost goes up the bigger the system is. A rough estimate of a home solar system would be three dollars per watt. So, for a 5,000 watt system, homeowners can expect to pay roughly $15,000. Luckily, the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows homeowners to receive a tax credit equal to 30% of the total installed cost on the following year’s tax bill. This means they would really only pay around $10,500 once they cashed in their tax credit.