Solar Energy: A Guide to Owning a Solar Powered Home

Moving to green energy is essential if you want to help conquer global warming and eliminate dependence on fossil fuels. There are several reasons why the switch from fossil fuels to green energy is eminent. First, we are in “peak” oil. Oil is a finite resource, whereas solar is an infinite resource. There will come a time when we do not have enough oil to live as we do.

In this article we look at the easy solution of going solar by discussing how to:

  • Choose the right solar panels and provider

  • How to estimate the costs and savings of going solar

How to Choose the Right Solar Panels

Image via Flickr by Peter Blanchard

There is a variety of solar panels available. Those include crystalline solar cells and film solar cells.

The big difference between the two is usage. Crystalline solar cells are rigid, and their application is in places like roofs. Film solar cells are very thin and flexible. The application of film solar panels is different. They used as a film for skylights or on the side of buildings.

So which type is best for you? The answer to that question boils down to the type of building you have and their installation. For the best answer, first consult with a solar technician about your option for solar panels. Then make an informed decision about which type of solar panels are right for your home.

Buy or Lease?

One of the first decisions to consider is whether or not to buy your system or to lease your system. Some providers install a system that is yours and others lease the system to you.

Buying your system comes with a few considerations for every homeowner. You own the system, so, therefore, all repairs not covered under warranty are your responsibility. The benefit of buying the system is that all of the rebates and solar certificates are yours. Solar certificates are sellable which means that every time your system generates one megawatt of power, you get a solar certificate.

If you lease the system, you usually save money on the cost of the system. Repairs to the system are the responsibility of the owner, but they also get all of the rebates and solar certificates. It is important to read the fine details of every solar contract. A good solar provider has a history of providing good customer service and a high customer satisfaction rating. They should also have an office near you so that you do not have to wait days for a solar technician to do the repair work.

Estimating Cost and Savings

Base the estimation for savings on today’s market. Many estimates assume that the future price of electricity will rise, and while that is likely, it is not a guarantee. For that reason when you look at future savings, do so at today’s prices, and then create a range that represents the future.

Before you buy a system ask some hard questions. How much will the entire system cost? What other components will the system need? How much is insurance? What is the current price of upkeep? Will this cause my house insurance to go up in price? You also want to look closely at the benefits of leasing versus buying. As mentioned earlier, solar certificates are sellable. All of these things are important when estimating the true cost of a system.

There is a lot that goes into going solar. While the idea is good—go green and save the world—it is important that the decision is sound. For green energy to work, you must be happy with the results. That is one of the reasons why the first step for going solar is to have someone reputable come out and evaluate your property. In so doing, he or she can tell you how big the solar array can be and how much it will likely cost. With that data, you can make an informed decision about going solar.

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