Solar Panels – The Advantages and Disadvantages for Homeowners

Solar panels are seeing a huge surge in uptake, with around a million roofs of UK homes now being adorned with them. One of the main reasons for this surge is the interest in renewable energy and climate change. Before you decide to go solar, take time to check out the main advantages and disadvantages as discussed below.

energy efficient technologies

The Advantages of Solar Panels

There is no doubt that one of the biggest advantages of solar panels is the potential to save money on your energy bills, something that is highly attractive when consider alongside the increased cost of living. According to the Energy Saving Trust, Most solar panel owners can make savings of between £250 to £600 a year, location-dependent, and will be able to sell any unused energy back to the grid for other users.

Another potential advantage is the ability to sell any unused energy back to the grid via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). The SEG allows suppliers to buy any unused energy direct from solar panel owners in return for a cash payment. This not only helps your finances but also supports the demand for renewable energy and lower carbon footprints.

Finally, the other main benefit of installing solar panels is that it is a no-fuss solution that will not need excessive maintenance, nor will it make any noise when they are in use. Plus, most installers offer a 25-year guarantee on all the panels in case of any issues.

The Disadvantages of Solar Panels

Despite offering so many benefits, there are disadvantages that you will need to consider before forging ahead with solar panel installation. The first one is the initial cost of the system that you will need to invest in to get your solar panels up and running. Most homes can expect to pay over £6500 for solar panels even with the ongoing drop in prices as they become more popular.

Next, you will need to be realistic about the amount of energy your solar panels will create with the British weather. Solar panels are always going to work better on bright sunny days, meaning that your production will slow on cloudy days and through the winter and produce less energy for you to send back to the grid.

solar energy diy

Finally, solar panels are not suitable for every home, and you may find that your roof does not face the right way or have the right angle to accommodate the panels. Even if you do have the right roof, your solar panels will take up lots of space, so you will need to work out if your roof is big enough to offer the supply that you need.

Solar Panels – a Summary

Getting to grips with all the pros and cons can be daunting, so we have summarised them below for quick reference:

Pros Cons
Offers a genuine saving on energy bills Takes a long time to make any money back
Reduce your carbon footprint Can be expensive to install
Simple to maintain Hard to move once installed
Range of financial support options Weather can reduce performance
Several types of panels to choose between Can look unattractive
Make cash from the energy you do not use Needs lots of space
Noiseless once installed Not suitable for all roofs

If you are keen to proceed with solar panel installation, then take the time to search for the best deals and check out all the financial support packages that may be open to you as this will help you get the best return on your investment for years to come.

Factors to Consider Before Subscribing to Community Solar

So you’ve heard of community solar and are now thinking of subscribing to one. Naturally, you want to know if you are qualified for a solar farm subscription. In this article, we will discuss factors that you need to consider before you sign up for a community solar program.

What is Community Solar?

Community solar or shared solar is one of the biggest renewable energy trends to have emerged in the past decade. Compared to residential solar which is mostly individualistic, a community solar project allows several neighboring households to tap into a single solar farm installation.

what-is-community-solar

Instead of installing panels on residential roofs or backyards, solar farm owners set them up at a central location like an open field or even an open body of water. Since it is subscription-based, you will simply receive a portion of the solar energy generated by these farms. Usually, this power will be coursed through your existing power lines, which means you don’t have to get any new gear just to enjoy your subscription. Sounds promising, right?

Am I Qualified for a Subscription?

Just like traditional solar panels, though, community solar programs are not for everyone. Here are some factors that make you a great candidate for community solar:

1. Your utility provider has a solar project

A lot of local energy providers own or manage their own solar farms. This way, you can buy in and ‘fund’ the community project in exchange for rebates in your monthly energy bill. Supporting these utility-sponsored projects will allow you to reduce your own electricity costs while helping your provider reach their goals in terms of building a more balanced energy portfolio.

Check with your utility provider if they have such a project. If they do, then chances are you are automatically qualified to subscribe to it.

2. You live near a solar farm

Utility providers are not the only entities that can own and manage solar farms. Private companies, non-profit organizations, and even local government units can run shared solar projects that you can easily subscribe to.

Sometimes, members of the actual community come together to pitch in the capital for the solar farm, making it purely community-owned and for the benefit of the general public.

In any case, it is required that you live close enough to a solar farm for a viable subscription.

3. You can’t put up solar panels at home

One of the most important considerations when choosing your solar-generating system of choice is feasibility. PV panels will require you to have ample space at home, not to mention the authority to make such installations on the roof (or even on the ground surrounding your house.)

More often than not, you will not be allowed to make modifications to a rented house, even if it’s for something as beneficial as a solar panel system. In this case, subscribing to a community solar program would be your best bet.

solar-powered-home

Even if you live in your own house, though, solar panels may not always be suitable. Not all roofs can accommodate those installations. If your area gets more shade than sunlight, sourcing your solar energy from a shared solar garden might still be the most cost-efficient solution.

4. You move a lot

Flexibility is a prime benefit of having a community solar subscription, as opposed to investing in your own solar system at home. If the nature of your job or lifestyle is that it requires you to move a lot, it just won’t be practical to invest in your own panels because of the sheer effort it would take you to uninstall, transport, and install them all over again with every move.

Going for a solar farm subscription will give you more flexibility when moving since it’s typically easy to suspend or cancel your subscription to one and just subscribe to a different project that’s nearer the place where you’re moving. It’s also a great way to maintain environmental sustainability with every move.

If any or all four of these factors are attendant in your case, then you already know that you possess the golden opportunity to try out a community solar program and see how it works out for you.

Solar-Powered Pumps are Game-Changing for Agriculture

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear solar power is a solar panel placed on a rooftop for creating electricity for commercial or residential use. However, solar power has another important function – to mine and deliver water to improve productivity. This is especially applicable in sunny nations like Australia and most countries in Africa since its main industry is agriculture. Still, their productivity is suffering since their fields don’t get sufficient irrigation. Though, using solar pumps, they can double or even triple their profits. These economic gains can improve the lives of many farming communities.

Importance of Water in Agriculture

Our lives depend on clean water. The developed countries can sometimes take water for granted, but the evolving economies understand the significance of this commodity. A solar pump is an ecological option to get water for the crops and deliver drinkable, clean water.

The founder and CEO of the British-American company Ignite Power, Yariv Cohen, confirmed that solar pumps brought more efficiency, leading to bigger disposable income and more employment. Farmers can now grow three seasons per year instead of one. So, disposable income increased by 20% to 30%.

60% of the Sub-Saharan Africa population is employed in agriculture. Therefore, agriculture is accountable for 60% of economic output. This is less productive than the other regions in the world since only a part of the farmland gets constant irrigation – just 6% across Africa. Most farmlands go without irrigation, so most farmers in Africa rely only on rain for the larger lands, while they take care of the smaller areas with manual effort.

What is Solar-Powered Pumping System

The solar-powered pumping systems include a solar panel array, which fuels an electric motor. The motor, in turn, fuels the surface pump. The water is pumped from the stream or ground into a storage tank, utilized to water crops. If the farmland is irrigated consistently with solar pumps, the farmers will double the production compared to farmlands irrigated by rainwater or with manual effort.

Life-changing mechanism

About 600 million who live in Africa don’t have consistent electricity access. This is damaging the economic health of the continent. Everyone knows the ideal solution is to expand the electrical grid, but financial and geographical considerations prevent that. Ignite Power provides off-grid solutions to African countries in rural places like Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Cohen explains how solar pumps allow the farmers to irrigate their lands by using the sun. They first connect the homes, and then they utilize the same solar panels to water the fields. Using solar power, the pump enables a big area to be regularly irrigated. This improves the yield affordably.

Ignite Power has 1.1 million customers in Africa. So, there is room for enormous growth for his company and other providers of solar power in the continent. Cohen aims to reach 500 million houses.

They work with the bank and try to find the ideal solutions. They want to provide the best solution for the country with the help of the government. They can connect any payment providers or manufacturers to their system. They can connect all the suppliers, so many people could join.

The case of the two Rwandan women Grace Uwas (23) and Tharcille Tuyisenge (20) is admirable. They started working with Cohen’s company and bought solar systems for homes in Rwamagana, so people there have sustainable and safe electricity. Until now, they have installed twenty-five solar systems and more are coming!

Bottom Line

Electricity is the quintessence for any country. The solar power is game changing for African evolving communities to get access. In this way, they won’t just keep their lights on, but their agricultural productivity will be improved.

The Costs and Benefits of Solar Panels: 6 Factors to Consider

Solar panels are sliding into mainstream consumerism—and it’s posing a challenge. For instance, when you want to buy a car, there is a surge of first-hand information from friends and family who can walk you through the ins and outs of buying a vehicle.

Putting up solar panels on your roof, on the other hand, doesn’t carry the same level of hype from the people around you. What’s worse, they cost the same as a brand new car. To make matters dicier, the number of homeowners who’ve adapted to solar infrastructure isn’t all that many, too.

That aside, the stakes are high. You are, after all, going to install this on your roof. It’s also an adaptation you can’t easily shrug off as, “I’ll do better the next time if I make a mistake now.” Present figures tell us that solar installations are rising and the costs are becoming more feasible. But how much do we know about the said technology and are we personally ready to switch to natural energy?

Here are a few tips to research your solar panels:

Have you tried working on energy efficiency before turning to solar panels?

The whole point of using solar panels is for you to be able to store and conserve natural energy. But apart from that, have you started doing the little things to help better your energy consumption, like turning off the lights when they’re not in use or unplug the television cord when you’re not watching?

The extent of solar energy you need to come up with equates to how much you need. That said, it’s wiser for you to begin consuming your energy much more efficiently before turning to solar panels. You can begin by looking at efficiency upgrades starting with an energy audit before whipping up a blueprint.

Is your roof sturdy enough for solar panels?

This can make or break your solar panel situation. Additionally, if, for most of the day, your roof is covered in shade, then having to splurge a hefty amount for solar panels might not be worth it. You should consider that condition before marching onward.

Also, how sturdy is your roof? Even the lightest panels can be heavy for a decaying house covering. Make sure your roof is in structurally good shape. The usual warranty for solar installations can last up to 25 years and if your roof will need renovation in the next couple of months, you might want to rethink your strategy. Having it renovated first is often the smartest route versus putting up these panels straight away.

Moving forward, another factor is ownership. Many times, house dwellers can’t call the shots because they simply rent the place such a vacation rental property with solar energy system. A good solution to this is resorting to a community solar. This alternative lets more clients buy a stake in these installations and receive electricity bill credits.

Do you trust your installer?

Advertising comes easy nowadays. Don’t trust the first solar installer who hands you a flyer or presents you an ad. You have to remember that solar projects are a combination of electrical work and home improvement. References, credentials, and certifications are important. For instance, do they have accreditation under the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)? It goes without saying that you wouldn’t hire an electrician to come to your home and shake things around when they don’t have sufficient experience. Consider an expert’s number of years in the industry.

It also comes as no surprise that these installations call for big checks. Shop around for installers and get as many quotes as you can before inking a deal. This can be challenging, but try looking for a company that will be available for you throughout your installation. While solar cells are stationary, you’re going to want to work with an installer who will emphatically extend their services even after your warranty period is over.

Which solar-type should you go for?

There are two prevailing solar sciences: the first one is solar photovoltaic energy. This technology produces electricity sourced from sunlight. Thermal, the second one makes use of sunlight to heat air or water for your everyday needs. At the end of the day, your context and living conditions help determine what you need the most. Despite that, those who use solar thermal are rare and qualified installers for this aren’t that many.

Buy or lease?

Before diving right into the world of solar panel usage, run a cost-benefit analysis. Is buying your own solar infrastructure the wisest decision you can make? Purchasing your costs more in the beginning, but you’ll have more evident benefits in the long run. On the other hand, renting grants you access to more affordable electricity bills. On top of that, you spend little to no money upfront in this arrangement. The tradeoff, however, is that there are limited monetary benefits for you.

When you rent your system, the company who you ink a deal with owns the infrastructure and you only shell out a certain fee for the electricity. When your rental period is over, they can either take the solar infrastructure back or sell it to you. But if you own your infrastructure, you can reap its advantages long after you’ve bought it. To snag a better deal, weight the lifecycle cost of both arrangements to see where you benefit the most. Factor in how much you earn at present and how much you see yourself earning in the near future. You have to put in a lot of research before you make a decision.

What should your contract contain?

As with any other contract, your welfare should be upheld as these last for long periods. The deal you ink should break down ownership, financing, and performance expectations. You should also factor in data-collecting technology if your infrastructure contains web-enabled devices. Determine who has access to it, if this applies. When there are things or contract segments you’re unsure of, it’s best to consult a legal advisor.

After everything’s been said and done, you’re not only cutting back on costs, you’re also contributing to a healthier planet.

How to Heat a Greenhouse With Solar Panels

Heating a greenhouse with solar panels is a great way to reduce your energy costs and help the environment. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of heating your greenhouse using solar power. We will discuss types of greenhouse heating systems, as well as the pros and cons of each of them.

By the end of this guide, you will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not heating your greenhouse with solar panels is right for you!

heat a greenhouse with solar panels

Benefits of heating greenhouses with solar power

Using solar panels to heat up your greenhouse can have some great benefits that will serve you in your present and future. Here are some of the benefits of using solar greenhouses:

1. Cost savings

Installing a solar greenhouse at first may need some money, but this will allow you to have zero running costs later. You won’t need any other source for power, hence you will save a lot of electricity bills.

2. Easy to implement

Installing a solar greenhouse is not a complex thing to do. You don’t need that much work or to have all the information about it to make it run. 

3. Reliability

Solar greenhouses can run smoothly without any problems as long as it’s set up right.

It gets its power from the sun so you won’t have any problems with the power if the electricity goes out or maintenance is needed, you will always be ready to go.

4. Environment friendly

One main point of the benefits of a solar greenhouse is that you also do your duty towards the environment and reduce your carbon footprint by a ton.

Types of solar greenhouse heating systems

1. Active solar greenhouse system

An active solar greenhouse system uses solar panels to generate electricity from sunlight and then uses this energy to circulate heat to plants using fans, heaters, and pumps.

This type is widely used at almost every solar greenhouse at least to capture the solar energy used to generate the heat.

Advantages of active greenhouse systems

  • Very efficient at transferring heat to plants
  • Can be used with any type of greenhouse

Disadvantages of active greenhouse systems

  • Requires solar panels and other heating equipment, which can be expensive
  • May require more maintenance than other types of solar greenhouses

Solar panel placement in an active system

The solar panels in an active system should be placed so that they will get the most direct sunlight possible. This may vary depending on your location and climate.

In general, the best place for solar panels is on the south side of the greenhouse. However, if you live in a very sunny area, you may be able to get away with placing them on the east or west side.

2. Passive solar greenhouse system

A passive solar system doesn’t need any electrical or moving devices to get the heat. In this system, the greenhouse captures the most out of the direct sunlight using large glass or plastic windows that get covered at night to keep it warm. 

There is a common term in this system known as the thermal mass which is another name for storing more heat using water tanks, rocks, concrete walls, soil, etc.

The main idea is that we use materials that soak up the heat of the sun store it for a long time and also take a long time to release it. The advantage of using thermal mass is that it provides a stable heat source during the day that can be used to heat the plants at night or when they need heat. 

Advantages of passive greenhouse systems

  • Very low cost
  • Can be used with any type of greenhouse
  • No moving parts means less chance for things to break

Disadvantages of passive greenhouse systems

  • May not work well in cold climates

3. Mixed solar system

This is one of the best options that can be used to heat a greenhouse. It is very effective and efficient as it combines using solar panels with devices like fans and heaters to heat the greenhouse. It also uses a thermal mass method to generate heat so it has a part of all methods.

Advantages of mixed greenhouse system:

  • Can be used with any type of greenhouse
  • More efficient than using just solar panels or thermal mass

Disadvantages of mixed greenhouse system:

  • May require more maintenance than other types of solar greenhouses
  • Takes a lot of space

How to heat your greenhouse using solar power

Now that you know about the different types of solar greenhouses, let’s walk through the process of how to heat your greenhouse using solar panels.

The first step is to calculate how much power you will need to heat your greenhouse. You can do this by simply multiplying the size of your greenhouse in square feet by the number of degrees you need it to be warmed up.

For example, if you have a 500 square foot greenhouse and you want it to be heated for eight hours per day, then you would need 4000 watts of power.

Once you have this number, you can size your solar panel system by using a solar calculator. This will tell you how many panels you need and what size they should be.

After getting the panels, now it’s time to install and connect them to a battery system and an inverter. Finally, you need to connect the inverter to your greenhouse heating system.

And that’s it!

Now you’re ready to start heating your greenhouse with solar power!

Conclusion

There are a few different ways to heat a greenhouse with solar panels. The best option for you will depend on your climate, location, and the type of greenhouse you have.

In general, using solar panels is a very effective and efficient way to heat your greenhouse. However, it can be a bit more complicated than just using a passive solar system.

If you’re not sure which option is best for you, consult with a solar specialist. They will be able to help you find the best way to heat your greenhouse using solar power.

5 Tips for Adding Solar Panels to Your Home

Solar panels are technological appliances that generate electricity by converting light energy into direct currents which are applicable for commercial and residential purposes. The advent of solar panels is a major progress in technology, providing the world with a more economically sustainable and reliable power supply for all possible applications. It also savages the situation of spending extra money on energy bills which can be high, depending on the amount of energy consumed.

In recent times, the installation of solar panels to homes has been a prominent activity of homeowners, especially in the United States. A solar-powered home will not only boost the value of your home, but also give room for savings, and provide a safe and healthy environment. But yet, so many people shun the prospect of installation because it seems like a formidable task.

Today, the addition of solar panels to your home is not a big deal as it was, as the choice of system size, component selection, and mounting and appropriate safety disconnection can be achieved with proper information and knowledge.

These are five tips that you will need to successfully power your homes with solar panels:

1. Budget

Although there has been a common misconception that solar panel installation is expensive, it is indeed an incredible way of saving money. It helps in minimizing the rate at which you depend on electricity from the power grid, resulting in you saving money in the long run. Even though the initial expenses during the first action solar installation might seem much, it becomes a cost-saving electricity generating facility over time.

Over time, the cost of procuring solar panels is consistently dropping since many people are installing it because is one of the cheapest forms of electricity worldwide. Nevertheless, your financing options is an important thing to consider before anything else – the more financially buoyant you are, the more the utility that will be derived from it. Estimate how much cost that the procurement and the installation of the entire solar set up will incur. The strength of the panels affects the price – the more powerful it is, the more expensive each panel will be.

2. Roof Condition and Position

Solar panels are very durable and they can have a lifespan of 25 years or more. Considering the longevity of most roofing materials that are affected by some environmental conditions like snow, hail, rain, hurricane, and sunshine, most home roofs don’t last more than 20 years especially most asphalt shingle or composition roofs. So, the condition of the roof of your home must be in the best condition before setting up solar panels.

In addition to the age and condition of your home roof, the positioning in terms of the layout and the direction that it’s facing should be considered. It should be in such a way that sunlight shines on it daily so as to be able to reap all the amazing benefits that exist with going solar if your home qualifies.

If for the most part of the year, your roof is exposed to a considerably significant quantity of sunlight, installing solar panels would be an excellent idea. The more sunlight that is shining on your solar panel is, the more the energy produced. The presence of huge trees around your roof will cast shades enormously, therefore depriving the panels of direct exposure and also of maximizing the energy coming from the sun. When panels are being installed, they should be fixed in such a way that will prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris that could hinder the hitting of the panel by enough sunlight exposure.

Both factors ensure the longevity of an economically stable power supply from the solar panels in your homes.

3. Activities undertaken in homes

The nature of activities done in the home greatly affects the energy consumption rate. The monthly energy consumption rate of your household may differ in a year due to the fact that you will need to run activities and appliances because of the peculiarity of the season. For example, your electricity bill might be higher in summer months than other months in a year because you will probably run the air conditioner more in this season.

If the energy consumption rate is less, then an undersized solar setup will be sufficient and conversely. An estimate of the number of solar panels that will enough to meet your electricity consumption daily, monthly or yearly should be done appropriately. Fortunately, not all of your appliances will be running at the same time and with usage of smart electrical panels you can optimize the power usage and even automate some of the tasks

So, the knowledge of your home energy consumption rate and your home dimensions allows momentum solar experts to help you design solar systems that best suits your energy use and budget.

4. Types of Solar Panels

There are different solar panel types based on functions. In the market, the two most sought after solar setups available are:

  • Photovoltaic – which converts sunlight into light energy by using arrays of cells
  • Thermal – which heats up water or air with energy from the sunlight.

So, your choice can be made between the two solar technologies depending on your intended purpose.

According to make-up, solar panels are distinctly grouped into two major categories:

Each option should be examined carefully, not forgetting to measure how efficient the solar panel is going to be and the right fit for you. Do you have questions? Companies like https://customenergy.solar/ are here to help! SunPower by Custom Energy is a leader in residential solar power. Offering efficient, customizable energy solutions to the entire state of Utah.

5. Warranty Details

Solar panels that are installed in homes have chances of performing efficiently and hassle-free for years. Solar panels can last for as long as twenty-five years under normal conditions. Nevertheless, in rare situations, issues can occur. That’s more of a reason why you should make your buy from a dependable buyer in order to ensure a money-back guarantee and be assured of a lengthy time of performance without breaking down.

Purchasing the right solar panels for your home enables you to enjoy the numerous benefits that come with it. So, do go for a solar panel that suits your home best rather than going for the current fads of the market.

Why Solar Panels Make a Difference in Minnesota

Many would be surprised to know that, despite its cold, northern climate, Minnesota receives a substantial amount of natural solar energy. The amount received is even comparable to places near the equator such as Texas and Florida.

Solar Energy Minnesota users have tapped into this phenomenon more and more. They utilize natural sunlight to power their homes and protect the environment. With the help of monetary incentives, they even save money while doing it!

minnesota-solar

By analyzing the environmental possibilities of the future and the fiscal incentives of the present, it is astoundingly clear why anyone would choose to invest in installing and maintaining solar panels. Due to its ever-growing importance and accessibility, this choice is only going to become more conventional.

An Eco-Conscious Undertaking

Excess greenhouse gases continue to deteriorate our ozone. Moreover, non-renewable resources risk becoming obsolete with each passing day. The question of how we must prepare ourselves is a recurring theme. We can make everyday decisions, like:

  • Recycling
  • Cutting down on plastic
  • Eating according to a vegan diet

Still, there are also larger steps, like using alternative energy sources. Solar energy is an exemplary renewable resource that is being encouraged for the state of Minnesota. This is because of its usefulness and the state’s considerably substantial accumulation of it.

It has been estimated that Minnesota can garner up to 38.5% of its electricity through solar power. This statistic can be jarring when considering facts like Minnesota used nuclear power for about 24% of its electricity in 2019 and is in the top 10% of ethanol producers in the country. Switching from these finite resources to a renewable one would positively impact both the state and the nation.

Financial Incentives

Just as everyone has a water bill and a cable bill, homeowners and property managers must also manage the responsibility of paying for power usage. The cost of electricity has a significant impact on how one goes about powering their home or business; however, numerous companies are now offering incentives to promote solar power usage.

solar-powered-home

Many people’s decisions are a matter of price and affordability. By companies distributing incentives for the installation and maintenance of solar panels, plenty of individuals who never expected to partake in such a transformative endeavor can now do precisely that for federal tax credit and/or a utility rebate with up to 51% of the cost credited back. This applies to residential and commercial uses alike.

Personal Savings

Research from 2016 claims that over a decade-long period, solar panels will actually pay for themselves, and in a twenty-five-year span, they will start to make money back. Even dismissing the incentives to get started, solar energy could start making back money once it has found a foothold. This is a consistently discovered statistic in the studies of environmental sustainability—the more effort we put into incorporating renewable resources now, the less long-term climactic troubles we will have that result in displacement or worse.

Additionally, many of these companies that promote solar panel usage also assist with installation and upkeep—maintaining your panels in the frigid Minnesota winter is just one example of aid offered to those who commit to the process.

Bottom Line

Due to eco-conscious values, fiscal incentives, or impending climate change, solar power is taking a front seat in Minnesota’s most commonly used energy sources. Right now may be the best time to invest in solar panels, as those who do are likely to get money back for their contribution to a cleaner, safer world.

While the eco-conscious choices yesterday were a matter of money, it is evident that tomorrow they will be affordable for all.

The Latest Developments On Solar Energy Technology

Twenty years ago, solar panels on residential homes were virtually non-existent. In today’s age, they’re becoming more and more prevalent. That’s due to several factors, including plummeting costs, advances in tech, and more. Homeowners also have some attractive incentives to go solar, including tax breaks and lower utility bills.

By the end of Q3 2020, the US had enough solar panels to power an impressive 16.4 million homes. While that trend slowed a bit recently due to component shortages, it’s sure to continue to rise in the future. A lot is happening in the world of solar energy lately, including some exciting new research. As efficiencies in technology continue to improve, prices will continue to fall. As such, solar power will become more accessible to residential homes in America. Here’s a look at some of the latest developments related to solar panels and renewable energy.

Trends in Solar Energy Technology

NREL and Improving Solar Panel LID Defects

As of October 2021, researchers at the US Department of Energy have been designing improvements for solar panels. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory partnered with the Colorado School of Mines to do so. Their goal is to develop a new technique to identify defects in silicon solar cells. These defects are what cause significant drops in a solar panel’s efficiency. That’s known as light-induced degradation (LID), and it’s long been a problem for solar panels.

Researchers are working at the atomic level to identify LID defects in silicon solar panels. Light-induced degradation can strip the efficiency of a solar panel by 2%. While that may not seem like much, it does a lot to wear away at a panel’s typical 30-40 year lifespan. Solar panels made from silicon make up more than 96% of the panels on the market today. The potential improvements that the team at the NREL can create from their research are massive. If they can discover a way to combat LID, they can revolutionize the way manufacturers strengthen their solar panels.

Bringing Solar Technology Indoors

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are finding indoor uses for solar. Doing so would significantly increase the energy efficiency of buildings and smart devices. NIST researchers used a series of small modular PV devices made of different materials. The goal was to test the indoor charging capabilities of these devices. To do so, they hooked up the lowest efficiency module to a wireless temperature sensor.

The results were exciting. The silicon module, absorbing light from an LED, could supply more power than it consumed. That suggests that the device could run indefinitely while the lights stay on. That would remove the need for exchanging or recharging batteries. In the past, flipping on a light switch meant expending energy. With the recent discoveries at NIST, flipping a light switch can mean producing energy too.

The world continues to move toward a transition to renewable energy. Solar panels are more affordable than ever, and solar technology is improving all the time. It’s easier now more than ever for a homeowner to install solar panels.

The Need-to-Know About Solar Panel Degradation

Some things get better with age – a bottle of whisky, a jar of pickles, or even a life full of wisdom. However, it is contradictory for an electronic device such as the solar power system. Solar panels and their system components are fated to degrade over time despite the lifespan of 20 to 30 years which depends on the manufacturer.

What is Solar Panel Degradation?

Solar panels deteriorate slowly over time. Degradation in solar panels means they generate less power output from the same amount of sunlight as they age. The period of degradation is measured against the lifespan of the solar panels.

what is solar panel degradation

Why Solar Panels Degrade Over Time?

The degradation of solar panels has been a challenging problem for manufacturers in the industry. However, advancements and developments pop up to lower the degradation rate while keeping up the power output. Although it is still a safe investment, the solar power system is expected to deteriorate at or below a specific rate.

The average degradation rate of the panels is at one percent each year. Nevertheless, a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that quality panels degrade at a rate of 0.4% over time which is remarkably lower.

Types of Solar Panel Degradation

There are three types of solar panel degradation to keep tabs on.

1. Light-Induced Degradation (LID)

Despite slow degradation as time goes by, it is crucial to know what happens to the solar power system once installed for the first time in residences, industries, or businesses. The degradation rate is significantly higher, which is at one to three percent within a short amount of time due to the sun exposure of the panels. This type of degradation is the Light-Induced Degradation or LID.

Without a doubt, sunlight is also considered a factor that contributes to the deterioration of the panels. To address this matter, manufacturers added UV blockers to protect the panels from the intense radiation from the sun.

2. Potential-Induced Degradation (PID)

The Potential-Induced Degradation or PID affects different components in the solar power system, such as the photovoltaic cells or panel frame. Once these components are disrupted, it causes voltage leaks which lowers the amount of electricity the panel can generate.

Although this type of degradation does not typically occur, it can significantly dent the panels’ performance by 30%.

3. Aging-Related Degradation

The solar power system will never be able to evade natural wear and tear. Various external factors contribute to the degradation of the panels. One of these factors, which is also difficult to control, is the weather. The adverse weather conditions in the country, such as snow, ice, hail, strong winds, and heavy rainfall, reduce the panels’ efficiency. These age-related degradations can cause microcracks.

Microcracks are very tiny cracks that form in the crystalline silicon of solar cells. Once these microcracks form, electrical connections also deteriorate. And if this happens, the photons from the sun have fewer paths to flow into; hence, less energy goes to the solar inverter that supplies electricity to the residence, industry, or business.

Microcracks are also caused by thermal cycling. Thermal cycling involves cycling two extreme temperatures rapidly. Warm temperature makes the panel and its components expand, while cold temperature enables it to contract. The constant cycling rapidly between these two extreme temperatures strains the panels and forms microcracks.

Water can get inside since these microcracks create holes on the panel’s surface and damage the seal. Other than these degradations, adverse weather conditions can also cause the hardening of the silicon, eroding of the frames, and contaminating the solar cells.

solar panels pigeon issue

Other reasons that contribute to the deterioration of solar panels

1. Quality of Materials

Some manufacturers will produce substandard or low-quality materials to keep the panels’ price low. These materials and components include solar glass, solar cells, and aluminum frames. Cheap materials increase the risk of product failure, which would eventually lead to more expenditures.

2. Installation

The way the panels are assembled and installed can affect their degradation rate. Installers need to be careful with the handling of solar modules. Since these panels are carried on top of their hardhats, the constant flexing, rocking, and bouncing back and forth can result in microcracks, scratches, and improper installations of electrical connections. Moreover, incompatible components and materials can speed up LID or PID on the panels.

3. Cleaning and Maintenance

Although the solar panel requires little maintenance, it is still vital to periodically monitor and check it to clear any debris or build-up that may affect its performance. It is also essential to check regularly the other components in the system, such as the cables, connections, and inverters, to ensure optimal performance.

Although the degradation of the solar power system is inevitable, it is paramount to understand the reasons they deteriorate in due time. Understanding their life cycle helps set your expectations and get the most out of your superb long-term investment.

5 Tips for an Energy-Efficient Home

Living in a house is often comfortable or even idyllic but tends to get rather expensive. After all, a typical home offers significantly more space than most apartments. A lot of it is likely taken by numerous appliances, each one working around the clock to satisfy the home dwellers. When one of them breaks, it is normal to simply either repair it or purchase a new one in its place, but because of their numbers, the costs can skyrocket in an instant.

But even if nothing in your home breaks down and loses its good looks, there is still one dominant issue. Most of it requires a constant supply of power to function. The demand for electricity alone is enough to raise your bills so much that the home budget will be significantly lowered. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks to keeping your home budget intact, including updating your HVAC systems, insulating your walls and the attic, mounting solar panels, switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, and getting tankless water heater. Explore the tips below and see for yourself how much your bills improve.

Energy-Saving Tips for Small Businesses

1. Modernize Your HVAC Systems

The main culprit to your monthly bills is likely your HVAC system, which makes up half of the monthly payments that you have to make to your electric company. Luckily, there are a couple of things that you can do to save a lot on these bills.

The first thing that you should do is to change your old, inefficient systems for new ones. Fortunately, there are still a lot of options for you to choose from. Consider a heat pump as an alternative. This system will work by pulling heat from the air and transferring it to the air conditioner to release it as cool air. As such, you can save a lot on your bills by using this system. Regular heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, and air-source heat pumps work in different ways and come with certain advantages and disadvantages, but they all allow for energy efficiency and thus lower bills.

Another method that you can use is to change your floor heating for a more modern iteration. Cutting-edge ones like the hydronic radiant floor heating system might be complicated and expensive to install. However, they can effectively replace all other forms of warming up your home and still offer a big increase in energy efficiency over the other systems.

green heating and cooling technologies

2. Improve Your Insulation

It is also important for you to improve the insulation of your home. This way, you will be able to keep your HVAC systems running at their reduced settings and avoid drafts. As such, you will be able to save a lot on your heating bills.

You should know that two areas need insulation the most: in the attic and the walls. The first is especially important because it will keep the roof insulated and prevent unwanted moisture from entering the house. On the other hand, the walls will keep the warmth inside during winter and block excess heat during summer.

Some materials are better than others when it comes to insulating homes. The best are fiberglass blankets, foam boards, polyurethane panels, loose-fill insulation, blown-in fiberglass insulation, and wool insulation. You can use whichever option you prefer for your home, depending on your budget and what type of insulation is most available in your area.

3. Maximize Your Solar Panel Usage

You can also benefit from solar panels if you decide to mount them on top of your house. Solar panels are great for lowering your monthly bills because they harness the power of the sun to supply your household with electricity. It is also possible for you to choose them because they are getting cheaper over time. But before picking them, make sure that they can generate enough power for your household. Otherwise, they might not be worth the investment.

4. Opt for LED Lighting

LED lighting is also excellent for saving on your energy bills because of its energy efficiency. It can last up to 20 years or more without getting damaged or losing its capacity while consuming significantly less energy than traditional light bulbs. The latter uses around 60% less energy than incandescent bulbs while emitting less than half of its light. If you think about it, switching to LED lights has the potential of lowering your monthly bills by $5 or $10 every month or so.

energy efficient home

5. Install a Tankless Water Heater

Finally, you should also consider buying a tankless water heater. This way, you will avoid paying for the energy necessary to heat it beforehand in the tank. Since these heating units are designed to run on demand, they work much like the HVAC systems and thus use up a lot of energy. But unlike the latter ones, tankless water heaters can be adjusted according to your needs. It is important to know that they tend to be expensive, but you can install them yourself if you are tech-savvy enough.

Conclusion

After reading this article, you should know more about energy efficiency and how to maximize your savings on energy bills. The tips and tricks included here are sure to help you save a lot of money in the long run. All you need to do now is to pick the ones that work best for your home and start saving. So, if you have been looking for ways to save money on your electric bills, there is no better time to start than now.

As you start implementing the ideas given in this article, you will soon experience a significant difference in your monthly electricity bills. But remember that it is not enough for you just to do it once. You need to install the best equipment, upgrade your insulation, and change your light bulbs to achieve complete energy efficiency in your home.