Your Questions About Solar Panels For Your Home

Jenny asks…

Are there any monthly expenses when purchasing solar panels for your home?

I understand you pay the price for the solar panels once and then use them for like 20 years – but are there any other expenses? Such as…charging the battery, maintanence, etc.?


ssadmin answers:

batteries, inverter, wiring, switches, photo cells, knowledge to hook it all up,
solar isn't, what its all hoped up to be,
solar lights are a better deal, you can put them to work, but to power a home ? Forget it,
buy a 13 K generator for total home power, all that cost is fuel ,
use propane powered stove,s fridge,s freezers, [ the amish do ]
there still for sale, in cross ville, tn
there is a lot of other ways to be self sufficient, solar is a gimmick, for now

Mandy asks…

What's the best deal for Solar Energy panels for your home?

What's the best deal going on companies leasing out Solar Panels in California?

ssadmin answers:

Solar Power Purchase Agreements, or PPA, have historically been for large systems for commercial and municipal customers. However, they are starting to venture into the residential sector.

Buying the power from the panels instead of the panels itself can help with the upfront costs and lock you in to a lower per kwh cost than buying from the electric company. However, you would not qualify for the rebates available if you bought the equipment yourself, so you would continue to pay for electricity after the equipment was paid for if you bought it outright.

I don't know anything about these companies, but a quick search for California Solar PPA turned up:

Heliomu PPA
Solar City Lease
SunRun PPA.

Richard asks…

If you were to install solar panels on your home that would allow you to…..?

always use less power than what the panels are generating, does the electric company pay you for the excess electricity you produced?

I live in California. I know it may be different in each state.

ssadmin answers:

The 3 major suppliers in California do NOT pay you for excess generation – the best you can get is a credit on your bill up to the amount of your usage. This is true for the PG&E region, as well as SCE and SDG&E. Also there will be a minimum charge for staying connected to the grid, nominally $5-10 a month, which cannot be undone by generating credit.

This being true, if you get a solar electric system, you want to size it to not quite meet your electrical needs, averaged over the year. We made the mistake of over-sizing our system, so ended up with a net credit at the end of the 2007 period. At that time, the power company said “thank you for your donation” and zeroed out the credit.

See the California Solar Initiative site below for official information.

George asks…

solar panels for your home?

hey, i am wanting to help our earth a little bit, and I was wondering how to do a solar panel connection for powering my home…. i just want to reduce my energy bill a little bit,

Would these solar panels work?
and how would i connect them?

(i live in st. louis, MO)

ssadmin answers:

General Information
The installation of solar modules (panels) requires a great degree of skill and should (if DC voltage exceeds 100V:) only be performed by a qualified licensed professional.

1. Avoid electrical hazards when installing, wiring, operating and maintaining the module.

2. A photovoltaic module generates DC electricity when exposed to sunlight or other light sources.

3. When installing or working with module wiring, cover module face completely with opaque material to halt production of electricity.

4. It is recommended that the module remains packed in the box until time of installation.

5. Do not touch terminals while module is exposed to light or during installation. Provide suitable guards to prevent contact with 30VDC or greater. As an added precaution, use properly insulated tools only.

6. Do not drop module or allow objects to fall on the module.

7. Do not stand or step on module.

8. Since sparks may be produced, do not install module where flammable gases or vapors are present.

9. Never leave a module unsupported or unsecured. If a module should fall, the glass can break. A module with broken glass cannot be repaired and must not be used.

10. Work only under dry conditions, with dry module and tools.

11.Module installation and operation should be performed by qualified personnel only. Children should not be allowed near the solar electric installation.

12. If not otherwise specified, it is recommended that requirements of the latest local, national or regional electric codes be followed.

13. Use module for its intended function only.

14. Do not artificially concentrate sunlight on the module.

15. The word “module” as used in this Guide refers to one or more photovoltaic modules (panels).

1. All instructions should be read and understood before attempting to install, wire, operate and maintain the photovoltaic module. Contact with electrically active parts of the module such as terminals can result in burns, sparks, and lethal shock whether the module is connected or disconnected.

2. Photovoltaic modules produce electricity when sunlight or other sources illuminate the front face. The voltage from a single module is not considered a shock hazard. When modules are connected in series, voltages are additive. When modules are connected in parallel, current is additive. Consequently, a multi-module system can produce high voltages and current which constitute an increased hazard.

Chris asks…

would you invest in solar panels for your home?

ssadmin answers:

That's difficult to say because current costs of photovoltaics is about $10 per watt installed but projections are that it will be less than $1 a watt quite soon and will be integrated into common building materials like roofing tiles and even paint.

I would focus first on insulating the home, then on using solar thermal collectors for hot water and for heating. If you're in a warm climate, it's possible to use solar heated water in a lithium bromide chiller to provide for airconditioning but due to the low demand in the market, small scale residential units aren't available forcing one to buy an expensive 30 ton unit and derating it for residential use. If there are significant tax breaks then a photovoltaic system might make sense but in the meantime you can get about 80% of the benefit with much less expensive solar thermal.

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