If you’ve gotten wind about how much solar energy is growing in the US, your first question may be, “How many solar panels would I need?” This is a natural question to begin with, which more and more homeowners are asking as renewable energy gains popularity. Soon after learning about the amazing benefits of producing energy yourself, you may ask, “How much will I save?” or even “How much will we profit?”
Here’s the rundown.
What are solar panels?
Solar panels make electricity using the simple, yet amazing principles of energy transference. A photovoltaic panel array is a self-sufficient power creating system that creates usable electricity from the sun’s rays. Specially coated surfaces generate a charge when exposed to UV rays. The grid captures the electrical charge and finally converts it into the same type of power you draw from the grid. It does not have to be sunny all of the time in order to have sufficient energy production. Even in non-idyllic climates, solar power owners get a return on their investment for going solar.
Even if you are not going solar for health or environmental reasons, it makes sense as a capital property improvement. All combined, the financial incentives of going solar make for excellent return on investment.
What are the financial benefits of owning solar panels?
- A lowered electrical bill results in big savings while creating energy at home.
- Net metering takes your lowered bill to the next step: The power utility meters electricity used and created, then pays out a check for any surplus energy you create at the end of the billing cycle.
- Federal tax incentives have been extended fully through 2019. Invest in solar panels for your business or residence and claim 30% of the total installation cost as a tax credit, not deduction! After 2020, the tax credit begins decreasing
- Solar Renewable Energy Credits are awarded for clean energy production so that utility companies can buy them in order to satisfy renewable portfolio standard requirements. SRECs belong to the producer, to sell as you see fit. Arrange private sale or sell them online auction-style.
- Other state and local incentives exist to support local economic growth. In some towns, real property exceptions were enacted as a way not to discourage new green builds with higher property taxes. You can search online or ask a reputable local solar energy contractor for information.
So how many solar panels would I need?
It depends! Are you looking to offset all of your power needs? Then determine your usage based on past electricity. Another approach is to determine the maximum capacity for solar energy production on your property; include roof space, stand-alone panels, or build a new structure such as a solar-paneled car shelter.
Estimate production using solar energy potential maps, free resources created using years’ worth of reliable data. For example, a typical panel on a home in Baltimore, MD will produce an average of 344-watt hours every day, per panel. So experts track production using daily averages.
The costs of a new solar build vary. Depending on your homes size and location, your installation may range anywhere from $15-40K. So it’s best to have a professional solar evaluation done and to receive real-life figures for your particular property. Regardless of how big your system needs to be, the ROI will be in proportion to your investment.
Think about all the things you could do differently with extra money in your budget every month. Once you start saving on your energy bill, will you make more home improvements, splurge on something fun, or save for the future? It’s up to you. The real question to ask about solar panels is, “What am I waiting for?”