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Solar 101: Guide to Solar Panel Systems

Welcome to one of the most complete guides to home solar in 2023 you’re going to find!

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Why everyone is talking about solar energy right now
  • Why brands are important when it comes to choosing solar panels
  • Solar trends for 2023 and why they matter
  • Lots of pro tips on going solar and choosing wisely
  • Solar Smart Tips that can help you make informed decisions

So if you’re thinking about going solar this year and have lots of questions, this guide is for you.

And even if you’re already a solar pro, this guide for 2023 will give you the most up-to-date info.

Let’s get started.

solar panels 2022

Chapter 1

Solar Energy 101

In this chapter we’re going to break down the basics of solar energy, including:

  • Why solar energy is taking off
  • Why old energy sources are running out
  • Why alternative energy sources are becoming increasingly important
  • Why you should look to the sun to power your home in 2023
solar growth key findings

The Rise of Solar Power

Solar might seem like a fad, but it’s not going away anytime soon. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in November 2022: “Solar power accounted for 2.8% of U.S. electricity generation from all sources in 2021.” (2)

That may not seem like much, but it doesn’t stop there. With major legislation in place to promote solar adoption, the move to solar is expected to accelerate in coming years. In fact, in a 2021 report done by the U.S. Department of Energy, one of the key findings was:

“Solar will grow from 3% of the U.S. electricity supply today to 40% by 2035 and 45% by 2050. In 2050, this would be supplied by about 1600 gigawatts alternating current (GWAC) of solar capacity.” 

And many cities in the U.S. are setting 100% renewable energy goals every year. There’s a simple explanation for this rapid growth: solar is not only great to power your home, it’s also great for the world.

Solar Energy Snapshot 2022

Let’s take a look at recent reports from SEIA summing up the growth of solar in 2022: (1)

  • In August 2022, the U.S. passed the Inflation Reduction Act(IRA). The law includes many incentives for solar manufacturing and installation, including a 30% tax credit to homeowners who install rooftop solar.
  • In Q3 2022, the U.S. solar market installed 4.6 gigawatts (gW) of solar capacity, bringing the nation’s total solar capacity to 135.7 gW, enough to power 24 million homes.
  • Solar accounted for 45% of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the US in the first three quarters of 2022.

Read the full SEIA report

solar market 2022
Solar as an Economic Engine

As of 2021, Interstate Renewable Energy Council reports that more than 255,000 Americans work in solar, with an increase of over 20,000 jobs that year. In addition, the IRA is expected to spur job growth in the solar sector in coming years.
Solar also employs about 30% of individuals identifying as female and 2020 saw a significant increase in the employment of various ethnicities. In addition, veterans make up a larger share of employment than the rest of the country. (4) Solar is a great industry to boost the economy, as the more people who choose solar energy for their home, the more jobs it creates. These jobs include extensive training programs for the investment of knowledgeable employees that desire a lifelong career in solar.

solar workers chart US 2021
The Importance of Solar Energy in the Future

Renewable energy sources offer more flexibility to our electricity grids at a time when our grids need it most and homeowners need a break from electricity costs the most.

Ever-expanding electrical networks, increased demand on outdated grids, more pull of electricity required to power homes, appliances and cars — our demand for energy in the coming years is only going to intensify and become more unstable.

And the share of available fossil fuels will continue to decline.

It’s also a well-known fact at this point that clean renewable energies like solar and wind are better for our planet. The future generations who will need enough energy to power the civilizations of their own.

If we don’t curb our use of non-renewable sources soon, there will be none left for generations, not so far into the future.

It’s becoming ever more important in our current world to have alternative sources of energy.

Old News: Fossil Fuels

Our old sources of energy are running out.
That’s right. Fossil fuels (like coal and gas), the most widely used sources of energy on Earth, are non-renewable.

If you don’t believe us, take a look at this. This image shows us renewable vs. non-renewable sources and how much potential energy they provide each year.

Image source: GW Solar Institute

infographic that shows the renewable energy potential vs nonrenewable energy potential

Solar Powered Fun Fact

The amount of power from the sun that strikes the Earth in one hour is more than the entire world consumes in an entire year!

Read more about the rise of solar power

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Chapter 2

Parts of a Solar Energy System

In this chapter, we’re going to break down the parts of a solar energy system. If you’ve ever wondered, “How do solar panels work?” this one’s for you, including:

  • The three types of solar panels and why efficiency matters
  • Microinverters versus string inverters
  • What racking is
  • Why brands matter in solar

For those curious tech hounds, let’s dig into the parts of a solar panel system.

1. Solar Panels

Solar panels are the solar technology you may have heard about before. It’s pretty simple. Solar panels collect the sun’s energy from your rooftop and convert it into usable energy for your home.

Solar fun fact

There are 3 types of solar panels.

  • Monocrystalline is the most widely used type of panel for residential use.
  • Polycrystalline panels are typically less efficient than monocrystalline and are often used for commercial buildings.
  • Thin film is more flexible, has a shorter life-span and is typically used in small solar installations.

Read more about how solar panels work

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Solar panel efficiency: which solar panels are most efficient?

Why does solar panel efficiency matter? When you’re going solar, you probably want to know how to get the most from your solar energy system. How do you do that? You’ve got to understand solar panel efficiency. Not all solar panels are the same. They come in different sizes and different finishes. But efficiency might…

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How many solar panels are needed to power a house?

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Solar Smart Tip

Consider the efficiency of the solar panels you choose to power your home. You’ll want a brand you can trust to last for years and high efficiency panels to keep your home powered.

2. Microinverters

Your solar panels produce DC energy. Your home needs AC electricity. Simply stated, a microinverter is the component that turns DC your solar panels produce into 230V AC  electricity that your home can use.

Solar Fun Fact

Before microinverters were invented, string inverters were the norm. Each panel fed straight into one main inverter via “strings” attached to each panel. The problem with this was that the system would only produce as much electricity as its least productive panel.

Learn more about solar technology

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3. Racking

The racking component is what holds the solar panels. The racking goes on your roof and the solar panels fit into the racking. It’s as simple as that. You generally don’t need to worry about this part. It’ll come with the solar installation and your solar company will handle it.

Solar Smart Tip

The most important part of this section is to understand how important it is to consider the brands you’re purchasing. Solar is a major investment: an upgrade to your home that can last over 25 years and could also increase the value of your home, but only if you shop wisely and ask the right questions.

Get your free customized solar estimate

Call (866) 935-6509 or enter your information. An ADT Solar Energy Specialist will contact you to schedule your estimate and help you determine if solar is right for you.

1 of 3

Chapter 3

All about home energy

In this chapter, you’re going to learn all about home energy, the best ways to save energy and how the grid powers your home, including:

  • Understanding the power grid
  • What being “on the grid” and “off the grid” really means
  • What net metering is and how it could work for you
  • Why your home energy use is important to know and how to calculate it

Gridlocked: What’s the power grid, anyways?

Whenever you start talking about rising electricity costs, outages and blackouts, it all points back to the power grid.

The power grid carries the electricity provided by your utility company and runs throughout neighborhoods, shopping malls, office parks and across property lines. To sum it up easily, being on the grid means your home is connected to this power grid.

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What’s the difference between “off-grid” and “on-grid”?

What does being “off-grid” mean?

Being “off the grid” means that your home does not receives power from the electrical grid.

Solar panels and being “off-grid”

In terms of solar energy, being off the grid is different from having solar panels installed on your home. Having a solar panel system installed on your home means your home will be powered by solar energy while you’re still connected to the grid. 

For this reason, solar panels alone will not work during a power outage, therefore you’ll need a solar battery for that. We’ll get to that soon.

Being connected to the grid certainly has its advantages. For one, if your solar panels collect more energy than your house needs (which is likely depending on your peak sunshine hours), then you have the option to “sell” it back to your utility company.

This is called net-metering, and it’s available in most states (not all, so check with your state’s guidelines on net metering.)

Net Metering 2023

As of 2022, these are the states that offer state-mandated net metering:

net metering states map

But even if your state doesn’t have a full-fledged net metering program, that doesn’t mean there are no options for your solar panel system’s excess energy. More than a dozen other states offer some form of compensation in exchange for solar panel-produced power. Have no fear, your Solar Energy Specialist will help you understand net metering, as well as how to take advantage of programs and solar incentives in your state.

Solar Smart Tip

The solar energy you produce is also valuable when you keep it stored in a battery backup, just in a different way. Consider getting a solar battery backup for protection during grid outages and to use solar at night.

Why home electricity usage habits are important

We’ve all seen the bills. Year after year, electricity prices are getting higher. But solar energy presents you with an option that puts you in control of your home’s electricity.

Let’s talk about energy consumption. Are you aware of how much energy you use in a day? This question will help you understand how many solar panels can power your home.

If not, you might want to start understanding your energy consumption habits. For example, take a look at the wattages for common household appliances: (7)

Coffee Maker
900-1200 watts
Microwave
750-1100 watts
Toaster
800-1400 watts
Washer
350-500 watts
Dryer
1800-5000 watts
Iron
100-800 watts
Ceiling Fan
65-175 watts
Space Heater (40gal)
4500-5500 watts
Hair Dryer
1200-1875 watts
Laptop
50 watts
Computer Monitor
150 watts
Computer Tower
120 watts
Television 19”-36”
65-133 watts
Television 53”-61”
170 watts
Dishwasher
1200-2400 watts

Solar Smart Tip

To get a better idea of your home energy use, try using this calculation for a single appliance. While the final cost of a single appliance for the month might be less than $3, all your appliances will add up. And your usage can increase or decrease depending on this each month. For better control over your energy consumption, opt in for a smarter home. These upgrades tend to run more efficiently, conserve more energy, and save you more money on your utility bills. It’s a green living tactic that keeps the green in your pocket!

How do I calculate my home energy use?

1. Calculate Watt-hours Per Day
Device Wattage (watts) x Hours Used Per Day = Watt-hours (Wh) per Day
Example: A 150-watt computer monitor used four hours per day
150 watts x 4 hours = 600 Wh/DayInstead of watt-hours. your energy bill is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Since one kilowatt is equal to 1000 watts, divide the watt-hours by 1000.

2. Convert Watt-Hours to Kilowatts
Device Usage (Wh) / 1000 (Wh/kWh) = Device Usage in kWh
Example: A computer monitor using 600 Wh of electricity per day
600 / 1000 = 0.6 kWhNow, we estimate usage over a month or, for the sake of a simulated average, 30 days.

3. Find Your Monthly Usage
Daily Usage (kWh) x 30 (Days) = Approximate Monthly Usage (kWh/Month)
Example: A computer monitor using 0.6 kWh of electricity per day
0.6 kWh x 30 Days = 18 kWh/Month

4. Calculate Your Monthly Cost
Monthly Usage (kWh) x Electric Rate ($/kWh) = Approximate Cost per Month
Note: The average residential electric rate for Americans in 2020 was 13.26 cents/kWh

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Reading your electric bill

After you’ve mastered understanding your energy consumption habits, you should get to know your electric bill. And learn how to read it.

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Why solar panels are worth it: high electricity bills

Electric prices keep climbing every year (especially during the summer and winter), while the cost of solar is lower than ever before.

You’ll be paying your electric company for the rest of your life, at the mercy of whatever the utility company charges. These prices will continue to increase due to lack of available energy resources and increased demand.

rising cost of electricity over the years

Driven by climate change, temperature shifts are requiring more power for heating and cooling. More electric vehicles (EVs) are hitting the road and they need to be charged. Meanwhile, the demand for residential electricity is increasing as more people are now working from home. The already fragile electric grid faces even more strain in the future due to these stressors.

It should come as no surprise that electricity costs continued to rise dramatically in 2022. In fact, residential electricity costs rose around 8% in 2022,;  continuing a decade-long streak in climbing prices. (6) While there are smart ways to save money on your utility bills, going solar is among the smartest.

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Get your free customized solar estimate

Call (866) 450-1012 or enter your information. An ADT Solar Energy Specialist will contact you to schedule your estimate and help you determine if solar is right for you.

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Chapter 4

What is a solar battery and do I need one?

In this chapter we’re going to go through the ins-and-outs of solar batteries, including:

  • What is a solar battery backup
  • How it works
  • Why to consider a solar battery backup
  • How to protect your home from outages
  • Top benefits of a solar battery
  • What brand of solar battery is best?

What is a solar battery?

solar battery works like any other battery except for two distinct differences:

  • It’s connected to your solar system
  • It stores solar energy

How does a solar battery work? 

To understand the advantages of having a solar battery, let’s first understand how having a solar battery works into your solar panel system:

  • Solar begins powering your panels in the morning when the sun rises.
  • Excess solar energy charges your solar battery during peak hours.
  • Your solar battery runs your home at night and during power outages.

Here is how the Tesla Powerwall, one of the industry’s leading solar batteries, works.

How the Tesla Powerwall works

Do I really need a solar battery?

Considering a solar battery can be a big decision. On the one hand, it adds to the price tag of your initial solar cost. On the other hand, it’s a great way to get more protection from power outages and natural disasters. Let’s break down the reasons why you might want a solar battery to give your solar panels (and home) a boost.

There are 4 main reasons you might want a solar battery:

  • Power during the night
  • Less dependence on the grid and rising costs
  • Complete control of your home energy usage
  • Protection for your home and family during outages

Power through the night

The first major benefit of a solar battery is freedom from your utility company. While you can’t have complete independence since you’ll still be grid-tied (as we explained earlier), you can have more freedom and flexibility than your utility company can offer you. That means whatever solar energy your panels produce can be stored instead of sent back to the grid. Remember how we said the electricity you produce is 2-3 times more valuable? Well, now you can keep it all! Use it at night, during outages, or when the sun isn’t shining as much.

Avoid surging electric prices

Because you have more freedom from the utility company, you won’t be trapped by the rising rates each year. The cost of energy is constantly rising due to energy resources running out, so this will become an ever-increasing issue.

Monitor your energy

Wondering how much electricity you use during the day and how much your solar panels produce? Having a solar battery system with the most up-to-date technology, like the Enphase Encharge or Tesla Powerwall, can help you keep your power in your control. There are other ways to approach green living as well, such as using smart light bulbs and smart appliances. Overall, green improvements are the best ways you can power your home and monitor your energy. Using a mobile app, you can monitor your home energy system in real time, get weather related updates and even control what appliances are getting powered during outages with Enphase IQ technology.

monitor your energy use

Do solar panels work in power outages?

Learn more about solar batteries

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Is the Tesla Powerwall worth it?

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Other important reasons to consider

Homes that operate essential equipment that cannot have interruption like medical equipment, homes with small children, or even homes in extreme climates that need heat and AC to keep occupants comfortable.

You may have noticed a lot of extreme weather in 2022 like in Florida and California, causing wide areas of power outages. You can stay ahead of disaster preparation by arming yourself with a battery backup.

Solar Smart Tip

A solar battery is covered under the solar federal tax credit, as well as other statewide solar rebates and state incentives. Make sure to ask a professional about what may be covered in your particular situation.

Which solar battery is best?

Solar battery backups are the champs of battery backup power over generators. There are several important things to look out for when shopping for the best solar battery available for your home. Terms like depth of discharge, round-trip efficiency, lead acid and lithium ion. This can all get confusing pretty quickly, but don’t worry, we’re here to help you out.

Depth of discharge (DoD) and round-trip efficiency (RTE)

In short, all these terms are referring to is the amount of charge a battery can hold and how long it can be used before needing to be charged. All you need to know is: look for a DoD over 95% and a RTE of 90% and over.

What is a solar battery made of?

There are generally two types of solar panel battery for your home and they are made of lead acid or lithium ion. The quick facts: lithium ion batteries are more expensive but last a lot longer than lead acid. They are also a lot safer, with Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) being the safest option, compared to Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC).

Chapter 5

What you need to know before solar panel installation

Now it’s time to give you all the tools you’ll need to make an informed decision about going solar in 2023. Specifically, our solar smart tips for staying an informed consumer with all the confusing information out there, including:

  • How to choose the right solar company
  • Why warranties make a difference
  • How to avoid solar scams
  • How to choose the right amount of solar panels
  • How to take advantage of the new tax credit for 2023

Solar power for your home is now more accessible than ever before, which means your decision to go solar comes with many more considerations. That includes one very important question: where do you start? If you’re convinced that solar is the way to go, it’s natural to feel puzzled about what to do next. Let’s start with making the big decision. It can be the most dreaded step, and yet, the most important part of the process.

But, how do I choose the right solar company?

There are so many companies to choose from, so many different products and, like any purchase, there are even scams to be on the lookout for. Before a single panel is placed on your roof, you’ll want to be prepared. When you know what to expect from the technology and the install team behind it, going solar is easy. In our experience, it’s a pretty exciting decision; especially when our customers are able to finally take control of their energy. But don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed. We’re here to help! Let’s just breathe and break it down together.

Tip #1: Find the warranties

Buying a solar PV system is a huge investment for your home and should be treated like one. Your car has insurance, so why not have peace of mind when purchasing a solar system? The solar panels on your roof will produce power on a daily basis, but it’s important to make sure that they last longer than the time it takes you to pay for them. A warranty is a crucial sign to determine the lifetime of the panels as well as the efficiency over time. After making the decision to switch to solar power, this is possibly the most important thing to look out for when choosing solar products and a company that will provide and install them. Once installed, a solar panel system is as much a part of your home as the roof on which it is installed — even more reason to be picky when it comes to quality.

Solar Smart Tip

Make sure you ask the specialist from your solar company to provide complete information about the panels themselves as well as any guarantees of service and maintenance should any extreme or
unexpected damage occur.

Tip #2: Be on the lookout for scams

You might have heard a lot about solar scams. There are a lot out there, which is why it pays to choose a trusted name company.When you provide solar service to thousands of customers in multiple towns, cities and states across America, reputation matters. More often than not, the level of trust in a company factors substantially into a customer’s decision to go solar in the first place.When you’re in our position, you simply can’t afford to overlook trust. The same is true if we were in yours.

How do I avoid a solar scam?
  1. Do your research. Know about solar energy and your options before you talk to a sales rep. Use it to help you ask the right questions.
  2. Check reviews. Any company that has mostly bad reviews is a company you want to stay clear of. Read the reviews thoroughly and find out what the complaints are as well as the positive reviews.
  3. Talk to your neighbors. If you know anyone who made the decision to go solar, listen to their experience. Ask questions and get their advice.
  4. Choose warranties. Find a company that backs their products and installs. This is key to protecting your investment.
  5. Be aware of anything that sounds “too good to be true”.  Stay away from any company quoting things like 100% consumption or zeroed out electricity bill.

Tip #3: Maximize the amount of solar panels during install

One of the biggest regrets homeowners have after their install is that they wish they would have installed more solar panels when they had the chance. They see the amount of power produced, and they want even more — especially if it means they can connect to a home battery like the Enphase IQ battery or the Tesla Powerwall to store excess power or sell it by way of net metering.

If you decide at some point after your install that you want more panels, it will be complicated and expensive, while adding additional solar panels to the original quote can be surprisingly cheap. Even though it may be increased initial installation costs, it’s a smart thing to consider.

How many solar panels do I need?

If you want to lower your monthly electricity bill, there are so many energy efficient upgrades you can make. But when it comes to solar panels, how many you need will be determined by exactly how much you want to lower it.

If you just want half your electricity use to be reduced, your solar panel system will probably be smaller. A great first step is learning how to read your electricity bill to find out how much energy your home is using. And if you’re looking to cover all your electric needs, you’ll probably need a larger solar panel system, which means of course, more solar panels

Read: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

However, if you have limited roof space you could instead use higher efficiency solar panels. This would mean fewer solar panels, but greater generation rates.

At the end of the day, the size of your solar panel system depends entirely on your needs.

Smart Solar Tip

Solar energy prices have gone down over the last 10 years. Government legislature is also providing more incentives to make the cost of solar more affordable. And great news! The federal tax credit was just raised to 30% and extended through 2032.

Get your free customized solar quote

Call (866) 935-6509 or enter your information. An ADT Solar Energy Specialist will contact you to schedule your estimate and help you determine if solar is right for you.

1 of 3

Chapter 6

Owning Solar

So you went solar. Congratulations and welcome to the clean energy club! Thanks for helping make the world a better place now and for future generations. Now here are a few important things you need to know.

In this chapter we’re going to go over everything you need to know about owning solar, including:

  • What type of maintenance solar panels need
  • How much solar can increase the value of your home
  • How to monitor your home energy use

Solar Panel Maintenance

The good news: Solar panels have no moving parts, so the maintenance is a breeze. In addition, solar panels are built to withstand weather, including hail and hurricanes! And most of the time, panels will be mounted tilted, which means the rain already cleans them off for you. You may also hose them down or use a leaf blower if it’s been dry weather to keep them running at their highest possible efficiency. If you live in snowy climates, you may need to wipe them off with a long squeegee or lukewarm water.

Fun Fact

We love to debunk myths about solar, and one of these myths includes the fact that solar panels don’t work well in cold climates.

The truth is that solar panels may actually have better efficiency in cold weather than in very hot weather! And the better fact is that solar is designed to perform in any climate, even rain and clouds!

In addition, high-quality solar panels are made for high efficiency in all weather and are made to withstand the elements.

Solar Panels and the Value of Your Home

Here’s some more great news: having solar installed will most likely increase the value of your home.

According to data from Zillow, adding solar to your home can increase the value if you purchase your system with cash or a loan, depending on where you live (check your local area information).

What’s New

Do solar panels really increase home value? 2020 was the first year that California became the first US state to require solar panels on all new homes. And solar has become more than a way to get potential energy savings. It’s also a way to possibly make more money if you sell your home.

dollar icon
monitor your energy use

Monitor your energy use like a pro

If you have Enphase IQ microinverters and IQ battery installed, monitoring the energy
use of your home is a breeze. This means added savings and control of your home for years to come.

Solar Smart Tip

If you have warranties on all the equipment and service, you can rest easy knowing you’re covered.

Look for something like;

  • 25 Year Labor Guarantee
  • 25 Year Power Production Guarantee
  • 25 Year Panel Module Performance Guarantee
  • 25 Year Enphase Microinverters Guarantee

Get your free customized solar quote

Call (866) 935-6509 or enter your information. An ADT Solar Energy Specialist will contact you to schedule your estimate and help you determine if solar is right for you.

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Bonus Section

Top questions about solar… answered

So you want to go solar but you still have a ton of questions?

It’s likely Google didn’t give you the information you needed this year, and maybe you’re not quite ready to ask a Solar Energy Specialist.

No problem. We’ve got you covered. We compiled a list of all the TOP questions about solar that were asked in 2022.

Are solar panels worth it?

Going solar is a move that keeps on giving. Solar helps you gain control over your home’s energy, can reduce your carbon footprint, and may even reduce your power bills. And with the new federal tax credit increase to 30%, solar might be a great deal for you. Here are just a few reasons why solar panels could be worth it for your home.

  • Help protect the environment from harmful pollutants.
  • Save on your electricity bill.
  • Experience increased freedom from the utility company.
  • Protect your home from outages.
  • Be in control of your home energy and fluctuating energy costs.

That sounds great, but is solar energy right for my home?

There are many things to consider when thinking about going solar. If you’re wondering whether solar panels are worth it for your individual situation, get a free evaluation from an expert who can answer your questions and help you understand if going solar is right for you. Schedule a no-pressure consultation with an ADT Solar Energy Specialist.

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Other Solar Frequently Asked Questions

Are solar panels expensive?

The cost of solar panels depend on a lot of things.

The price of solar panels can seem high at first. Until you start breaking down the cost with a trained solar expert. They can help you do the math to understand what makes sense for you.

And with things like solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs), going solar can be more doable than you think.

Let’s put it this way. You’ll be paying your electric company every month for the rest of your life. And the cost of electricity is going up each year (see chapter 3).

us electricity prices chart 2021

Unless you have a fixed rate, (someone, anyone?) you’ll be vulnerable to these rising costs, especially as fossil fuels become less available. Because, don’t forget, they’re running out (see chapter 1).

But when you go solar, you’ll own the energy for your home. Even if you finance your solar system, you’ll pay a fixed rate each month instead of increasing, unpredictable rates. That means no more energy bill surprises. And with things like net-metering, federal and state incentives, solar tax credits and rebates, you may end up making money in the long run.

Just let us help you crunch the numbers and find out.

Oh, and by the way, you could help offset the cost of your solar system by using the ADT Solar Referral App.

Do solar panels increase home value?

Solar panels do increase your home’s value, according to studies. Let’s take a look at some of these findings.

The Department of Energy and Berkeley Laboratory did a price-premium analysis for homes with solar across 8 different states on nearly 4,000 homes.

  • They found that buyers are willing to pay an extra $12,000 to $15,000 for a home with even an average-sized solar array.

And according to a comprehensive report done by the US Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):

  • Each additional $1 in utility bill savings from your solar installation can add $20 to your home value.

This means, not only can you save on your home’s electricity bills, but for every dollar in savings, you’re also adding to your home’s value. What more could you want? And if that wasn’t enough, when you’re ready to sell your home, they also found that homes with solar arrays sold 20% faster, and for 17% more. Solar panels for the win.

What are solar panels made of?

Simply stated, solar panels are made of a few key ingredients: silicon, metal, and glass.

Nothing toxic, no moving parts, nothing to worry about, just clean energy converted from sunlight.

Read more.

solar panels are worth it: parts of a solar panel

Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

Solar panels will work on cloudy days for the same reason you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day. Solar panels will absorb some sunshine, depending on how much sun is coming through the clouds.

On cloudy days, solar panels will generate around 10 – 25% of their normal power output.

Although solar panels do not work as well in rainy or cloudy weather, they do still work and depending on your particular situation, that may be just enough.

In fact, some of the cloudiest cities house some of the country’s best solar producers. So don’t let that deter you from installing solar panels on your home. Talk to a professional about it.

What about when it’s raining?

They do! It’s the same as when it’s cloudy. See above for more information.

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Do solar panels work at night?

Solar panels do not work at night because they are powered by the sun.

No sun, no power. Unless of course, you have a solar panel battery like the Enphase Encharge or Tesla Powerwall. A solar battery will store your solar energy from the sun and power you through the night.

What do solar panels do?

This is complicated, but at the most basic level, solar panels take sunlight and convert it to electricity to power your home. Here’s a great place to learn more about how solar panels work. The journey through solar energy is a long history of developed science and product testing. Today, many advancements in the ways we harness energy from the sun are being explored.

Are solar panels toxic?

There are a bunch of solar panel myths out there about solar that just aren’t true. This is one of them.

Solar panels on your home are not toxic. They will not leak and they will not do damage to you or your home.

In fact, they are the only form of electricity generation that has no moving parts.

Solar panels are made from silicon, metal, and glass which takes the sun’s energy and creates a reaction to create photons (light energy particles) which then sends it to be converted to electricity for your home. That’s it.

But what about the pollution they cause after their lifespan is over? 

The good thing is that solar panels are built to last for 25 years or more. In fact, most decent solar panel manufacturers have a warranty for 25 years.

When your solar panels are finally done working, you may be able to recycle them some of the parts. This is because solar panels are made from silicon, metal, and glass, and all of these materials are useful for other things. In fact, they can be processed to re-use with around 80-100% recycling efficiency!

There is a lot of research already out there about recycling solar panels. Read about it.

While that doesn’t erase the damage of the trash or the energy that it takes to manufacture them, we’d like to think that offsetting the amount of energy you’ll be producing in the lifetime of your panels could just be worth it:

After 25 years, a 6.6 kW system will have a net saving of around 243 tons of CO2 from the air!

We can’t argue with reducing our carbon footprint by that much.

Sources
  1. U.S. Solar Market Insight: https://www.seia.org/us-solar-market-insight
  2. What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3
  3. Solar Job Census 2022, IREC: https://irecusa.org/programs/solar-jobs-census/
  4. Solar Job Census 2020, IREC: https://irecusa.org/programs/solar-jobs-census/
  5. Understanding your Energy Usage, Save On Energy: https://www.saveonenergy.com/resources/energy-consumption/#0-section-copy
  6. Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/electricity.php
  7. Solar power can boost your home’s value — especially in these 10 states, CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/05/solar-power-can-boost-a-homes-value-in-these-10-states-the-most.html
  8. Berkeley Lab Illuminates Price Premiums for U.S. Solar Home Sales, Berkeley Labs: https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2015/01/13/berkeley-lab-illuminates-price-premiums-u-s-solar-home-sales/
  9. Planning for PV, NREL: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/42733.pdf
  10.  Solar Homes Sell for a Premium, Energy.Gov: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/articles/solar-homes-sell-premium-0
  11. What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?, EIA: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3
  12. https://www.saveonenergy.com/energy-resources/energy-consumption/#0-section-copy