Investing in residential solar panels can be an excellent way to reduce your overall “carbon footprint,” while also saving money on your home’s energy bills. Installing a solar system can also allow you to upgrade your electrical appliances and then use them freely, without worrying about added utility costs!
To choose the best residential solar energy panels on the market, you need to consider the efficiency of those panels, as well as their price, warranty, and the reputation of the manufacturer. Other factors to consider might be the temperature coefficient of the panels and if a company offers various options for solar equipment, rather than just roof panels alone.
Choosing the best residential solar systems is not as difficult as you might assume if you understand a few basics of the efficiency and ratings systems of these panels. It’s also good to consider how to conserve energy in your home, beyond the use of solar energy itself. This information will ensure you’re making all the right decisions when it comes to energy savings and conservation.
What Are the Most Efficient Solar Panels?
To choose the most efficient residential solar energy equipment for your home, first, consider what is meant by solar efficiency. Simply put, the efficiency of solar panels refers to how well the system converts sunlight into usable energy for your home. A solar system with a low efficiency rating will not trap and then convert as much sunlight into usable electrical energy as a system with a higher efficiency rating.
It’s vital that homeowners understand solar efficiency ratings, as systems with higher ratings are often more expensive. However, higher-rated systems also provide more electricity for the home, so that you pay less for city-supplied power throughout the year or get a more substantial credit on your electric bill. Efficiency ratings for solar panels are measured as percentages, and some of the best panels on the market today have efficiency ratings of around 20% to 22%, so consider investing in these types of panels when you’re ready to purchase a solar system.
What Is the Temperature Coefficient of Residential Solar?
The term temperature coefficient refers to how well the solar system will perform in poor weather conditions. It might seem a bit confusing, but solar systems operate better in a cooler environment and will become less efficient when exposed to hot weather and lots of unabated sunlight. The temperature coefficient measures how much efficiency is lost by the panels during inclement weather.
Temperature coefficient is expressed by negative percentages, indicating the amount of efficiency lost when the panel is exposed to extremes in temperature. A high-quality panel might have a temperature coefficient of -0.3%, as an example. This temperature coefficient number becomes very important for panels exposed to harsh sunlight, such as for properties in the tropics or those without any shade trees.
What Is a Good Warranty for Solar Systems?
Before you assume that the most extended warranty available is the best choice for residential solar systems, note a few considerations to keep in mind about the length of the warranty you would need for solar panels.
- Residential solar power systems don’t just stop working once their warranty is up; instead, you would typically need to pay for repairs after the warranty period is over. However, solar panels rarely need repairs or maintenance, so a short warranty may not necessarily mean that you’ll be facing expensive out-of-pocket costs for those panels after a few years of ownership.
- Consider if you might be putting your home on the real estate market in the future, as not all warranties will transfer to a new owner. As an example, if you will be retiring in fifteen years and might then move to a retirement apartment, a ten-year warranty for your panels may be sufficient for you, versus a 25-year warranty.
- Note any guarantees that solar panel manufacturers offer even after the warranty period ends. For instance, many manufacturers guarantee that their panels will work at 80% to 90% efficiency even after the warranty period is over. A solar panel that operates at 90% efficiency may be entirely sufficient for you so that you don’t need to necessarily invest in an extended warranty that guarantees 100% efficiency during that time.
How to Choose the Best Residential Solar Panels
Now that you know a little bit more about how solar panels are assessed and rated, you might note a bit of added information that can help you choose the best solar panels for your home.
- Shop around and get multiple quotes from various companies for residential solar panels cost and the installation of panels, and consider local installers rather than just national companies. Local installers are often just as qualified to install your panels as national franchises, but might charge far less than national companies.
- Remember to ask your accountant, or even your solar system salesperson, about rebates and tax incentives for which you’re eligible. You’ll want to consider these amounts when comparing costs between residential solar energy panels, as you might be able to afford a more efficient system once you figure in your tax credits or other such incentives.
- Consider if panels with a lower temperature coefficient would be a better investment, based on the amount of hot summertime sun in your area. On the other hand, if your property doesn’t get lots of direct sunlight, you may not need to spend the extra dollars to invest in a lower temperature coefficient.
Considering All Your Options for Solar
Solar roof panels are probably the most popular choice for homes, but they’re not your only option. Note a few additional options you might want to discuss with an installer or manufacturer when you’re deciding on residential solar power for your home.
- Solar water heating refers to a solar panel that is attached to the home’s water heater, as well as the heater for a swimming pool. A solar water heater can provide radiant heating, meaning small pipes under floorboards that circulate warm water. Radiant heating is often a more efficient and comfortable way to heat a home; when attached to a solar system, it’s also more affordable than utilizing a standard furnace.
- Solar shingles, as the name implies, are smaller solar panels, typically just slightly larger than standard asphalt roofing shingles. These shingles are applied on a roof and may look more attractive than large panels. Shingles are also usually more affordable than large panels, so you can opt for a smaller number of shingles and save on the cost of a solar system for the home.
- Solar panels can be connected to pool heaters and filters. Since homeowners typically only use their pools during the warmest parts of summer, this makes pool equipment a perfect choice for solar installation! Solar power will reduce or eliminate the cost of keeping your pool clean and comfortable.
- Stand-alone solar panels can often be installed on a property if the home’s roof is too small or has lots of peaks and gables so that it wouldn’t support solar panels. Stand-alone panels can also allow you to place the panels in an area of the property where they will absorb the most sunlight without getting overheated and losing some of their efficiency.
- Operate all of your property’s outdoor lighting on solar power! Lights along walkways and on a deck, string lights on fencing, pool lights, security floodlights, and all such lighting features can typically be attached to solar panels. Connecting such lights to solar energy will reduce your power bills and also ensure that those lights are fully illuminated, without the worry of rundown batteries, blown circuits, and the like.
How to Go Green at Home
Solar panels are an excellent choice for conserving energy and reducing the amount of pollution for which you’re responsible, as said, but they’re not the only option for reducing your carbon footprint at home! Note a few other tips that homeowners often overlook for reducing the amount of power they use at home and for reducing their environmental impact.
- Adjust your computer’s settings. Computers often use tremendous amounts of power, so adjust the settings for when these sleep and shut off.
- Most electrical appliances continue to draw power even when switched off, so unplug microwaves, televisions, phone chargers, stereos, and the like when they’re not in use. You can also plug your electronic devices into a power strip and then shut off that strip when you’re done using those devices. Turning off the entire strip disconnects the power supply to everything plugged into it, so you reduce this waste of power.
- Switch to LED light bulbs, or at least opt for bulbs that use fewer watts. Get into the habit of turning off lights as you leave a room.
- Take the coolest showers possible and turn off the shower while you lather your hair and apply soap to your skin. Shutting off the shower for just a few minutes will reduce the amount of hot water you use for each washing. There will still be enough hot water for a comfortable shower, but your home’s water heater won’t need to work as much so that you save electricity overall.
- Add insulating or darkening film to your home’s windows for an added layer of insulation. Insulating film will keep out heat and cold, allowing you to use your home’s furnace and air conditioner far less often.
If you utilize these tips along with residential solar panels, you will reduce your energy consumption and save both money and the environment!