Why You Need to Consider Solar Panels – Now
By Aimee Kunau
Higher utility prices are a reality for many hard-working Americans in a sluggish economy. Every month, it seems the bills are increasing, with no relief in sight. This trend is one reason why solar panels and solar array systems are slowly gaining in popularity among people seeking long-term reduction in their utility costs.
Solar Panel Popularity Gaining in Recent Years
Solar panels have been a source of public interest for some time. The potential for cost savings, greater efficiency, and environmental friendliness all contribute to the fact that homeowners are investigating solar as a viable energy alternative. In fact, according to a recent NY Times blog, the U.S. now has 5.7 gigawatts installed solar capacity. The federal Energy Information Administration reports that from 2010 to 2011, “Power generation from renewable sources continued to rise, mostly because of record-breaking supplies of hydroelectricity and increasing generation from wind, solar, and other renewable sources.” The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) informs a doubling in solar panel installations in the second quarter of 2012, with continued growth expected.
Proof of Savings over Time
Solar panels can have both an immediate and long term benefit to home owners, because the power produced by them is free. With the national average cost of electricity increasing at an 8% clip every year, the savings impact solar panels can offer now is quite significant. In addition, grid tied systems producing excess power that is not used can be sold back to your utility company. Solar panels will increase the value of your home, as well, which is a highly desired feature in the depressed U.S. housing market. In fact, many appraisal publications now show that homes with solar panels will typically sell three times faster than homes without solar.
A World of Difference
Not all solar panels are created equal. There are hallmarks of a superior product and residential system installation that savvy consumers should pay close attention to when contemplating a solar array system purchase. Some of these key elements of high-quality solar panels include:
- Panels that use black back sheets, cells, and frames that blend in better with your roof
- USA made components with strict quality standards
- Micro-inverters that allow for AC rather than DC current for greater efficiency and lower risk
- Flash plates with extended roof penetration warranties
- Long life warranties on components up to 25 years
- Online monitoring capability for use on your PC, tablet or smart phone
Companies that offer better grade solar array systems will also adhere to industry best-practices, including employee background checks that will instill trust that the individuals coming to your home are fully vetted and skilled.
Most States Get Plenty of Sun
For northern or Midwestern states, the average amount of daylight is more than sufficient to provide solar energy to any home. You do not need to live in a sunny climate to reap the benefits of this clean, renewable energy source. Ohio, for example, averages over 2300 hours per year of sunlight; plentiful enough for liberal use of a solar array system. Countries like Germany, which leads Europe in solar power usage, gets much less sun than the Midwest (only 1500 hours per year) and still outshine its neighbors and the world in harnessing solar energy.
Investing in Solar: More Affordable, Better ROI
In 2011, it was reported that solar panels overall were down 20% in price, representing a significant savings for prospective buyers. A lower margin of investment, coupled with an increase in home values, makes the decision to move forward with a purchase of a quality solar panel system a smart one. In only 4-8 years (on average) the system should pay for itself in terms of return on investment. The incentives offered by local and state governments can also help reduce the initial system investment, but will vary by location. Excess power generated but not used can to be a source of extra income when sold back to utility companies. Currently, a 30% federal tax incentive exists to help absorb the cost of installing solar panels. All of the above are strong reasons to seriously investigate installing a solar array system for your home.
To understand the specifics of how high-quality solar panels can benefit you, find out more by contacting a qualified solar provider that can explain in detail the features, benefits, and costs involved in installing a solar panel system.
Aimee Kunau is a freelance writer from the Cincinnati area. Her writing niches include green energy, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.