Are You Considering Residential Solar Panels For Your Home?
Residential solar panels are a great investment that not only save you money and can increase the value of your property, but they also help the environment. Solar power is becoming very price competitive with conventional energy sources and there are many federal and state rebates and incentives in place to compensate you for the power you produce and also help offset your initial investment cost. The cost of residential solar panels for your home have decreased significantly, dropping over 40% in just the last few years. There has never been a better time to make the move to renewable clean energy for your home or business.
The Basics of Residential Panels
Residential panels convert the sun’s light energy into electricity using an arrays of solar photovoltaic cells to convert photons into usable electricity. Solar cells, or photovoltaic cells, are arranged in a grid-like pattern on the surface of the panel to produce a specific wattage of electricity. Then multiple panels are arranged in an array and installed on a roof or in a field, which produce energy that can power a home or business.
Residential panels typically are constructed with crystalline silicon and the more expensive gallium arsenide, which is produced exclusively for use in photovoltaic cells. More efficient panels are assembled by depositing amorphous silicon alloy in a continuous roll-to-roll process. Cells created from this process are called Amorphous Silicon Cells, or A-si. Panels constructed using amorphous silicon technology are more durable, efficient, and thinner than their crystalline counterparts.
The newest panels function on the molecular or quantum level. These panels are created by implanting carbon nanotubes or quantum dots into a treated plastic. Unlike silicon-based panels, these panels do not have to be constructed in a clean room, and therefore production costs are somewhat lower.
Residential panels work by collecting radiation from the sun and actively converting that energy into electricity. Solar panels are comprised of several individual solar cells. These cells function similarly to large semiconductors and utilize a large-area p-n junction diode. When the cells are exposed to sunlight, the p-n junction diodes convert the energy from sunlight into usable electrical energy. The energy generated from photons striking the surface of the solar panel allows electrons to be knocked out of their orbits and released, and electric fields in the cells pull these free electrons in a directional current, from which metal contacts in the cell can generate electricity. The more cells in a solar panel and the higher the quality of the cells, the more total electrical output the solar panel can produce.
How Much Power Can Be Produced?
The amount of energy that is produced by solar panels is influenced by the quality of the panel, the materials and technology that are used in making the panel, and the amount of time the panel has been in use. When purchasing solar panels, it is best to look beyond the size of the panels and to look at the dollars/watt ratio.
Residential solar panels of the same size may produce variable amounts of electricity, this discrepancy is caused from variations in the functioning age of the solar cells, the quality of the solar cells, and with what technology was used to produce them. Early cells are not quite as efficient as modern cells. Panels have an effective lifespan of about 20 to 25 years, and their value and wattage output decrease steadily over time.
Get More Out Of Your Residential Panels
The best way to get the most out of your residential solar panels is to take simple steps like switching to CFL or LED light bulbs, invest in energy star appliances, use smart power strips that turn off electronics when not in use, and making sure your windows, doors, and insulation are energy efficient.