Solar panels are an innovative clean energy resource that’s developing as quickly as technology advances. Home and business owners have always been interested in reducing their carbon footprint with a solar system, but the cost used to outweigh the benefits. That’s no longer the case. Today, solar panel installations are more affordable and accessible than ever. The specific costs and benefits for solar panels depend on their location, how much energy you consume and factors unique to each installation, but solar energy is a hot commodity.
History of solar energy costs
In the 1970s, solar technology advanced significantly, which made it more accessible for residential and commercial use. Although the technology was available, the high cost of solar panel installations made it impossible for most people. Electricity is measured in watts, a unit of power that describes the rate of energy transfer over time. In 1977, the average cost of solar energy was $76.67 per watt. In the 1970s, the cost of living was a lot cheaper, so paying that much for electricity was next to impossible. A gallon of gas cost 36 cents and the average cost of a new car was less than $4,000.00.
In 2016, reports showed that the average price of a solar module was just $0.49 per watt. The impressive drop in price is because technology has made solar energy more efficient and more cost effective. The price of solar power has been steadily dropping for decades, and experts predict that this trend will continue.
Solar installation costs today
Government incentives to improve solar tech and install more solar panels support growth in this clean energy power source. Growth in solar technology leads to price reductions. Solar power systems are either installed on rooftops or on the ground. Rooftop solar panels cost less to install, but you have to adjust for chimneys, antennae and other obstructions. You need to make sure your building is structurally sound and can support extra weight. Ground solar panel installations generally have space for larger systems, which means they will produce more energy.
When researching solar installations, the terms can be confusing. A bunch of photovoltaic (PV) cells make up a solar module. Multiple solar modules are called a panel, and several panels are called an array. A solar array is the complete solar unit that generates power. Switching your home or business to solar electricity requires more than just a couple solar panels. A solar panel expert will recommend the number of solar panels you’ll need. This will depend on how much space is available to install the panels and the quality of the panels. Higher quality solar panels will be more effective, so you don’t need to install as many of them. Figure out how many kilowatt hours of electricity your family or business uses on average. This will give you a better idea of what to expect from your solar panels.
Battery storage for excess energy
Homes and businesses powered by clean energy are usually still connected to a power grid, they just use a lot less electricity from it. If you want to go completely off the grid or significantly reduce your dependence on conventional energy sources, a battery is required. High power batteries work in addition to an array of solar panels to store the excess energy that’s produced. Connecting your solar panels to a battery has major benefits in the event of a power outage. The stored electricity will keep your lights on in the dark and your heater running in the cold.
Solar panels can have an intimidating price tag, but homeowners and businesses recover the upfront costs with long term energy savings. Clean energy resources continue to develop, becoming more affordable and more accessible than ever. Specific costs and benefits depend on your unique installation, but prices are falling. Invest in solar renewable energy for your home or business. Who knows, this green technology might help keep some green in your wallet.