Thinking About Solar Power? Here’s What You Need to Know

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With the sudden emphasis on going green and working toward a sustainable world, solar power is on the rise. Solar energy is energy collected from the sun. It begins as thermal energy and is captured through solar panels (usually installed on the roof of your home). These panels capture and convert the energy into electricity for your home.

Solar power is a great option for residential and commercial properties in Denver. We often receive questions about switching to solar power, what it entails, and the science behind the process. If you’re interested in going solar, here’s what you should know.

Cost vs. Value

One of the biggest factors impacting North American decisions on solar power is cost. While it does cost you to install solar panels and set up your power grid to receive the energy from the sun, it’s more of an investment than a price paid. Over time, you save money by cutting ties with your traditional power company and switching to solar.

Check out the local Denver website to see what we’re currently allotted for solar tax breaks or credits. This amount changes annually. Generally, you can expect rebates somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000.

How Much Solar Energy Do You Need?

Another big question we receive a lot at Bell Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, & Electrical is, “How much solar power do I need?” The answer varies by the size of your home, and your average power output now. For a traditional gas-heated home, you’re looking at a lower requirement than an electric heated home.

Most people can expect somewhere between 7,500 kWh to 35,000 kWh, which is a pretty big range. It’s best to talk to a professional for a more realistic quote based on your home size and function.

The Potential Downsides of Solar

Like any investment, there are pros and cons to solar energy. Most of the impacts you’ll feel with solar power are for the better. However, there can be some cons, including weather conditions and access to sunlight.

For your solar panels to properly function and store energy, they need access to the sun. While we know clouds don’t completely block thermal energy from coming through, it does diminish the generation of your solar power panels by about 75% to 90%. That’s a big chunk of energy loss on a cloudy day.

Of course, solar-powered homes don’t rely solely on the sun. Not most solar-powered homes anyway. In Denver we see many homeowners use a hybrid of electricity and solar power. This reduces overall energy costs through traditional energy sources but still allows for a reduced carbon footprint on the planet.

Adding a Solar Battery

Not sure you’ll have enough energy from solar panels alone? You can add a solar battery to collect and store excess solar energy. This allows you to rely on those days of bright sunlight to power through any cloudy afternoons or long nights.

Adding a solar battery is an extra cost, which means if you’re nervous about how much you’ll pay for your solar setup, you may not be as thrilled about adding a battery. On the other hand, the savings you’ll receive by keeping your power primarily solar will even out eventually.

Batteries also require room. If space requirements are tight in your home, it might not be the best option for you. Larger homes, especially those with big garages and storage sheds shouldn’t have an issue.

The longer you want your battery to last, the more batteries you’ll require. Many homeowners choose to use two or three to store ample hours of juice for later.

Upgrading your Electrical Panel

One item that many homeowners don’t consider when beginning the solar installation process is the rated size (capacity) of their electric service panel (containing the home’s circuit breakers). Up through the 1960s and 1970s, standard-sized homes were usually built with electric panels rated at 100A (amps). But for newer (and larger homes), the larger 200-amp panels were standard.

Electrical code rules limit the size of a solar energy system that can be connected to a home, depending on the rating of its service panel. If a home needs a larger solar energy system than the service panel will support, there are several ways to accommodate this and may include upgrading the size of the panel from 100A to 200A; (this is also a good idea for older panels that are no longer working well or if replacement parts are difficult to get). Our licensed electricians can easily perform this task either before or along with the solar panel installation.

Contact Bell Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, & Electrical to Learn More

Interested in adding solar energy to your Denver home? You might want to start with an analysis of your electrical panel. Bell’s licensed electricians can audit your electrical panel, replace it where helpful, and even provide you with a full home electrical safety analysis.

If you would like a quote on upgrading your home electrical panel, we invite you to give us a call or visit us online for more details.

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