There are financial incentives at the federal and state level that help solar compete with fossil fuels, which also subsidized by the government. Having the financial incentives in place for renewable energy makes solar energy a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels and a often a practical investment for homeowners.
Solar systems in the United States qualify for a 30% federal tax credit. If you have tax liability and you put a solar system in service, you can claim a tax credit that’s equal to 30% of qualified expenditures that went into your solar system.
To learn about state and regional incentives in your geographic location, visit dsireusa.org.
“Soft costs” associated with permitting are also going to depend on your local Authority Having Jursidiction (AHJ). Unfortunately, the U.S. has yet to streamline permitting so much of this is going to be specific to your location.
Want to see how you can save by switching to solar? Get your monthly energy usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) from your electric bill and use ourSolar Energy Savings Calculator!
2. Solar panels only work on hot, sunny days.
Contrary to the common misconception that solar only works on sunny days, solar panels work best on clear, cool days. Even if it’s overcast and a bit foggy, your solar panels will continue to generate at about 30% of their normal energy output. Germany, which doesn’t have a reputation for being the sunniest of places, had about 21.6 times more solar power installations per capita than the United States by the end of 2011. Solar panels can also take a beating. Quality solar panels are manufactured with tempered glass and “hail-tested” with golf-ball sized projectiles to ensure that they will withstand environmental pressures. Click here to read about solar panel hail testing.
3. You can size a solar PV system based on the square footage of your home.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get an accurate idea of how many kW of solar you should install without doing some homework first. The first step is determining your load, or the average amount of energy consumed (kWh).
Dig out your electric bills for the past 12 months and average the kilowatt hours (kWh) used by your home or business. If you don’t have this on hand but want to figure out how much electricity you use, use this Load Calculator.
Solar has no moving parts, so consequently, there’s almost ZERO maintenance required to care for a solar system.The main thing to consider is cleaning your solar array every now and then to maximize the energy yield of your system.
The only time a solar system would require more regular maintenance is if you’re using batteries. This bleeds into the next myth about solar energy.
5. Solar energy is stored in batteries.
The overwhelming majority of solar electric systems are “grid-tied,” meaning they don’t use a single battery.
In some sense, the utility grid is your battery. In lieu of batteries, grid-tied PV systems feed electricity into the utility grid. When your system is producing more electricity than your home is consuming, that excess electricity is sent into the utility grid. Your electric meter spins backwards, racking up credit towards your electric bill. At night, when your system isn’t generating electricity, you’re drawing power from the utility grid.
Installing a grid-tie solar system basically means that you’re reducing your net consumption from the utility company.
Why not store it in batteries? Solar is cost-effective but batteries are usually not.
Solar systems that do use batteries are called off-grid, or standalone solar systems. Off-grid systems are ideal for homes that wouldn’t otherwise have access to a grid electricity. For example, if you want to power a remote cabin that has no electricity access whatsoever, you would be a candidate for an off-grid system.
6. Solar panels power your home during a power outage.
Because most solar systems are grid-tied, your home will lose power when your neighborhood does. This prevents your PV system from sending electricity into the grid in case utility workers are repairing power lines. Sending electricity into the grid during a power outage would be a huge safety hazard.
7. You can only install solar on a South-facing roof.
Photovoltaic systems can be installed on different types of roofing.
Though it’s ideal to install your solar array on a South-facing roof, solar systems will still work on West and East-facing roofs. It’s also important to note that solar systems can be installed on Spanish tile, flat tile, composition shingle, and metal roofing. Not only are racking solutions for different kinds of roofs, PV systems can be mounted on flat stretch of land with a ground mount or a pole-mounted solution. Do you have a question about solar energy?
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I believe clean, renewable energy is key to the evolution of society as a whole. Solar powers our planet, why not harness it to power humanity? Let's power our homes, our work, and our vehicles with solar energy. It begins with raising awareness and encouraging those around us to go green.