The sun has been at the center of our universe for as long as we can remember, in fact, our galaxy, including the sun, is billions of years old, and it is supposed to last us another few billion years. If we were to ever lose the sun, all life would soon cease to exist and we would be plunged into a much worse ice age with a possibility of no inhabitants remaining. The sun is at the center of all life and activity since the sun provides us with light, energy, and heat.
Researchers now say that solar energy is not a recent discovery of the previous century, in fact, ancient Egyptians were found to also make use of solar energy. They would design their homes in a manner that allowed them to store solar energy which would then be used to warm their homes at night.
The subject of solar energy has been making the rounds the last few decades because there is an increasing alarm in scientific circles about the dangers of non-renewable energy and how the world’s supply of non-renewable energy has slowly been depleting, and how we will have nowhere to turn to once we run out. Plus the added pressure of the harmful impacts of fossil fuel is making scientists and governments around the world to look into solar energy as a possible alternative energy source that we can rely on, plus sustainable energy is now the goal, and advancements in solar technology have made it possible to open discussions for solar panels in our homes.
If you think about it, the sun is a limitless source of energy that will not reduce or deplete itself regardless of how much we use it, and a lot of industries, businesses, farms, and homes have made the switch over to solar energy in the past decade and for good reason. If you happen to still be unconvinced about solar energy, then you can keep on reading a few of the benefits that we have mentioned down below:
The Rise of Solar Power
Currently, the US is the second country with the most number of solar panels recorded in 2020. Whilst solar energy was adopted 10 years ago, the movement has gained more momentum and support in the last five years.
If you want to talk numbers then it has been reported and noted that the US is responsible for powering up to 13 million homes with solar power, and this has been possible because the US alone installed 2.1 gigawatts of solar power. If anything, it has been predicted that the solar PV capacity will grow 2x its current capacity. It is hoped that by 2024, the US will be able to install up to 15 gigawatts of solar power.
If you want to understand the benefits and immediate effects of going solar, then it might help you to know that for every family that goes completely solar-powered, we end up preventing the addition of over 12000 pounds of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. That is the equivalent of not burning 4500 kg of coal, not adding 18,000 miles of driving time, and so on.
When Americans were surveyed about solar power, over half of those who had already installed solar panels were happy that they were being eco-friendly and believed that they were helping to change the future.
Almost 60% of Americans have admitted that reducing their electrical costs has been a big motivator for going solar as well.
There is a lot of potential in solar power, and it is going to lead to more jobs, more revenue, and better outcomes for everyone as well. If anything, it is currently the fastest-growing job market, and it has already managed to create almost 250,000 jobs so far.
Powering Your House With Solar Panels
Several factors need to be taken into consideration when we talk about using solar panels in our homes. So, there is no fixed answer to the question of how many solar panels are required to power home because there are a lot of things that need to be considered first.
The number of solar panels needed to run a house depends on the size of the house, its position, and direction, and then the overall energy needs and consumption of the house. Your location is also pretty important when talking solar panels since some cities receive more sunlight than others and will hence require fewer solar panels than a city that does not receive a lot of sunlight. California for instance, being a sunnier state, requires fewer solar panels compared to cities like Portland, Alaska, or Seattle where there is not a lot of sunlight naturally present.
Of course, the number varies depending on the state, but one study has calculated that the average American household manages to consume up to 10, 164 kWh annually, so about 847 kWh of electricity is consumed every month, and down to 28 kWh almost every single day.
If we are still talking math, we then have to divide the daily energy expenditure with the number of sunlight hours the city in question receives. So if the city receives an average of 9 hours of sunlight a day, we will divide the two and get 3kWh.
Kilowatts will then be converted to watts since solar panels normally come in watts, so for that, we have to multiply the number with 1000, and you will get 3000 watts in this case. If we are using a standard 72-cell 350-watt solar panel, we will have to divide 3000 watts with 350, which will round off to 9. So we can assume that the house in the said city will need 9 solar panels to power their homes and meet their energy needs.
The number of solar panels you will need will depend on the size of your house, your daily energy needs, and your location’s number of peak sunlight hours, and so on. So the number of solar panels needed will vary for every person, so some people might only need a few solar panels to efficiently meet their energy needs whereas others might go up to double digits when it comes to the number of solar panels they need to keep their house running year-round.
In some cases, the number also varies depending on whether or not the house wants to go completely or partly solar. In that case, the amount of energy consumed by each appliance that is using solar energy is calculated, and then more calculations are done to figure out how many solar panels might be needed to run them properly.
If you are looking to reduce your energy needs and the amount of energy you need daily, then one way you can do this responsibly is to switch over to greener, more eco-friendly products, and appliances. A lot of our older appliances have higher energy requirements and by replacing them with eco-friendly or energy-star rated appliances that consume less electricity. Yes, buying new appliances will cost you more money upfront, but the cost pays off in the long run once you consider the benefits. So, if you are looking to change old appliances or switch things up, do not forget to check the energy-efficiency of the product before making your purchase. You can end up making a significant difference to your energy bills this way, and at the same time help you reduce your energy needs, which helps if you plan on going fully solar-powered later on.
Small things can make a big difference so something as simple as switching over to LED lights can help, opting for more energy-efficient refrigerators or washing and drying machines can help you not only consume less electricity but also save on your water bill as well. If you have a higher rate of energy consumption, then you will need to spend more money to install more solar panels, so by having more energy-efficient appliances and products, you can significantly reduce the number of solar panels you might need to run your home.
Solar Energy Explained
Solar energy works very differently, and the way it works is rather interesting. So if you want to know how solar energy can power our homes, then you can keep on reading below:
If we sum it all up, then the answer lies in solar power inverters. Essentially the solar energy that is taken by solar panels is in the form of direct current (DC). Now direct current cannot be used as is to power our home or appliances, so it has to be converted to alternating current (AC) to do that, and to do that you will need an inverter to make it happen.
Now when we are talking inverters, it is important to look into their types as well.
On-Grid VS Off-Grid Inverters
If your solar power system is connected to your electrical grid, then you have an on-grid inverter and what this does is take the extra energy that is produced by the solar panels and feeds it to the electrical grid, which is known as net-metering. This is incredibly beneficial for homeowners since they get financially compensated by getting bill credits depending on the number of times and quantity that they have added to the electrical grid.
So you end up getting financial compensation this way and can rely on your electrical grid on days that you are not getting enough juice by your solar panels. On-grid inverters are secure, make you eligible for compensation, and are secure.
In the case of an off-grid inverter, you will need to spend extra money to make sure that you have enough storage space for the extra electricity that is produced during the day so that it can be stored and then used at night.
Solar panels can prove to be a great investment, but to ensure that you have to make sure that you installed them correctly or else you might end up facing issues and have to deal with problems for the next two decades. To make sure that does not happen to you, you will need to do all of the math which includes the number of solar panels you will need, making sure to hire experts to correctly install your solar panels and verify their credentials, license and other information as well because your solar panel’s performance is heavily dependent on is the installation process, so leave no stone unturned here, and then being sure that you are buying the right equipment for your solar panels. This will of course require extra research and dedication on your part, so do not skip out on this step because it is an important one.
One misconception that needs to be cleared here is that solar panels do not convert all of the sunlight that falls on it. The most efficient solar panel is not able to go beyond 23% so far, and the average solar panel efficiency usually falls at 15-20%. This means that your solar panel can convert 20% of the sunlight that falls on it to electricity. So if the numbers are done, it can take up to 12 years to pay off the overall costs of the solar panel which includes installation charges, taxes, and rebates, etc. However, after the initial cost is paid for, you can still up to a decade of free energy, which is pretty efficient and a great deal.
Another great thing about solar panels is that they significantly raise the overall market value of a home as well. So even if you have to move houses after a few years, your solar panel can help you out one more time by fetching you a higher price for your house given the increased demand in solar-powered homes. So at the end of the day, you have a great long-term investment with solar panels.
Solar Panel Types
Now there are mainly two types of solar panels in the market and this includes monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, and the two types can have different energy outputs
The monocrystalline variant of solar panels is made by slicing a single silicon cell and is visibly darker in color. These solar panels work well in shady conditions, can withstand more heat, and are generally more efficient in terms of energy production and space efficiency. While they do have a longer lifespan, they are the more expensive of the two.
Polycrystalline solar panels on the other hand are lighter in color and are made by using a combination of multiple melted cells. These solar panels do not work well in high temperatures, have a shorter lifespan, and are generally inefficient. However, they tend to be a lot cheaper than monocrystalline panels.
At the end of the day, a solar panel is a pretty long-term investment and if you want to make sure that it pays off, you will have to spend more time doing research, making sure you have considered everything and talked to the right people before taking the next step forward.