Your Questions About Solar Panels For Your Home

Richard asks…

Are DIY Solar panels legitimate for saving electricity?

I have seen DIY software which explains everything for novices. Specifically, how to build your own solar panels and tie them into your home electrical system for about $100 in parts.

Has anyone tried doing this? Was it easy?

ssadmin answers:

The local codes in most areas in the US won't allow you to install a homemade solar panel on your house, it needs to be UL listed. Don't believe all of those bogus sites that promise you can power your house for $200, you can't. Also, besides the solar panel, you also need an approved inverter to convert the DC power from the solar panels to AC that your appliances need.

Factory built solar panels are generally guarantied for 20 – 25 years, with a life expectancy of twice that. You will never get that life from a homemade panel.

To save money on a solar installation, you may be able to install at least part of it yourself, but the equipment needs to be UL listed or equivalent.

You can see an example of a very small grid-tied electric system here. You can see that the solar panel is just one component. Http://www.altestore.com/store/Kits-and-Package-Deals/Grid-Tied-Systems/Alt-E-Designed-Grid-Tie-Packages/AltE-Grid-Tied-Package-Micro1/p5642/ The output of this system will be very small, but it is a staring point.

You should consider solar water heating as a way to save on your energy bills. Heating your water accounts for about 25% of your energy use. If you can cut that by 75%, you will save a lot of money. Depending on where you are and how many are in your household, it may cost about $5000 for a do-it-yourself installation. There are tax incentives available that could potentially pay for as much as half of the system. These systems can pay for them selves in as little as 4 – 5 years.

Donna asks…

How many and which Solar Panels are for my home???Are they good of bad?

My home is 10,200sq.ft. and I was wondering if solar panels really are energy efficient, can lower your energy bill or if you can sell some power back to electric company because of the solar panels.
I have found some good and bad things about panels so I wanted to know if they are good or bad?

ssadmin answers:

It depends on what you want. Heating water or electricity. It also depends on whether your home is ideally situated – not all of them are. Email me for more help if you like.

Donald asks…

Wanting to add solar panels to my home?

I have a home in Manchester Tn and we have been slowly remodeling the home. It is about 2100 sq ft of living space. Our normal electric bill is about 150 a month. We would like to add some solar panels to the home to help reduce the amount of the bill. How many panels do I need and what would be the cost? I am not trying to go completely of the grid but I would like to start somewhere and maybe over the years be able to add. What is your recommendation for a reasonable cost of under 2 to 3 k??

ssadmin answers:

Unless there has been some major breakthrough in solar panel efficiency – Forget it.

I had looked at some “utility interactive” systems where the electricity generated by the solar panels went through a special inverter and into the electrical system of the house, any power you didn't use went backwards through the meter and into the grid.

I figured that even if it was sunny every day, it would take about 20 years to break even on the system. That is, if I had invested $5,000 in a small system, to save $5,000 off the electric bill would take 20 years. If I had $5,000 to invest, this wouldnt be the place! It would take much more than 20 years of electrical savings to match even a modest investment. Then, don't forget what happens if 10 years from now the inverter or some of the panels fail and need replaced.

Invest in fluorescent lights, maybe even LEDs. You will see a much quicker return on investment. Install more insulation, put in a heat-pump system.

I appreciate you desire to save some energy, solar just isn't going to be worth doing, at least not yet.

John asks…

A few questions about solar energy for your home?

How much does it cost?

Is it hard to install?

What is the best kind?

How big do the panels and the generator need to be to energize a whole home? Or do people only use solar for some energy? If so how much?

I live in the midwest and dont get all that much sun. Will they still work on overcast days? Basically will I get enough energy in the midwest or is this just for AZ and CA?

From what I understand you get a solar panel and put it on your roof and then you also need a generator that stores the energy that the panels produce? If there are any other tips or advice or technologies that I am not thinking of please tell me.

ssadmin answers:

There are 2 ways of installing solar, you can stay on the grid and get a system that will reduce your bill, that's what I did. Or you can go off the grid, you will need a much larger system and you will need a bank of batteries to store the energy for when the sun isn't shining.

I can tell you that the system I had installed cost $26K, but I got a rebate from my utility of $10K and a fed tax credit of $2K. If you install a system now you will get a fed tax rebate equal to 30% of the installed costs. I have a 2000 sf tri level home and my system generates over 75% of my summer usage and over 50% of my winter usage. That is a savings of over $2K per year. I should break even in 6-7 years, it would have been more like 10 without the rebate. My utility lets my meter run backwards so they are buying back all the energy I produce but don't use. I've only had one day that I didn't really generate any electricity, so even on cloudy or overcast days I get some sun on my panels, it only needs the light so it temperature doesn't matter.

The best thing to do to see what type of system may be right for you and what results you can expect is to have a local licensed contractor come out and give you a no cost, no obligation quote. Your specific site will determine your results. My roof isn't at the best angle, but I'm still getting better results than the contractor quoted me.

Steven asks…

Average energy output of solar panels?

Hi every1.

I wanted to ask, especially for those of you who have solar panels installed on your home, roughly how much energy do you actually get out of those? Is it enough to power your whole house? If not, how much of a saving (in the long term) are you actually looking at by implementing solar panels?

Thanks heaps.

ssadmin answers:

How much energy any array puts out per year depends on the size of that array, its location, and how well the install was done.

Our array is about 3 kW, and produces about 6000 kWh per year. This is roughly equal to our annual consumption of electricity. But we're in a nearly ideal area.

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