By now you have most likely seen solar panels in one way, shape, or form. It may have been on your neighbor’s roof, at a local park, or even strapped to a vehicle. Yes, some RVs or other vehicles have their own solar energy system!
Solar panels convert solar energy from sunlight by producing electrical current. This electricity can be used to power devices. These are as small as phones up to entire buildings depending on the capacity of the system.
Now, before reading on, just be aware of solar installation companies who want to provide you for a quote to set up your whole system. Often times these can be over priced. Sometimes they’ll even ask for a copy of your electric bill just to help build the case on why you should switch to solar. If you’re considering solar, I highly recommend checking out distributors such as SanTan Solar. They sell new, used, refurbished and overstock solar panels at much better prices than your whole-home-installers.
What cost does solar energy save?
The average electricity consumption per year in the U.S. is 10,972 kWh, or about 914 per month. This equates to about $1,400+ dollars every year! If you’re reading this page, then you probably are well aware of what your own utility bill boils down to.
Putting all the fancy numbers aside and without bringing in the whole “No Cost Solar Programs” you see advertised on Instagram or Facebook, this is what sums it up. You can basically zero out your energy bill. Just don’t jump into signing up for a 10+ year payment plan on your brand new shiny solar system without understanding what you’re paying for.
What does a solar energy system have?
When you look at what’s involved in upgrading your home (or side project) to use solar energy, there are 4 primary components that make it up. Solar panels, inverters, racking and batteries will claim that shining sunlight as your own electrical power plant when combined together.
These roof-dwelling beauties are the most visible part of a solar energy system. In fact, they’re so visible that some Homeowners Associations actually dictate what yours have to look like. These are the gateway into your personalized energy grid. Sunlight hits the face of these panels, which is then converted into DC electricity due to the material properties of what inside the panels. I won’t bore you with that on this page, but just know they make the magic happen.
Inverters for Solar Energy
The next stop on this power train is the inverter. Inverters are responsible for converting that DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity. This is what your home runs on. When you plug your favorite kitchen appliance into the wall, it receives AC electricity. This can get a little more complicated (whether you have one for the whole system, or one on each panel), but the end goal is the same.
This one may seem pretty straight forward, but this is how the panels are actually mounted to your roof. You wouldn’t want to just toss them up there as they need to stay in place. Often times these will also allow for proper placement and angle of the panels to optimize the system for energy production.
Not all solar energy systems have batteries. Sometimes you only need power during the day, or when there is sun out. If that’s the case then a battery would not be involved. However, if you are wanting to run your system during the night time or when rain clouds come rolling in, you’ll need batteries. These store the energy from the solar panels for usage when the panels themselves aren’t producing enough energy.
Where to Buy Solar Panels?
Solar panels and other parts of the system can be found through various ways. Tesla offers an incredible product called the Powerwall, but it’s definitely on the pricey side of things. It’s well worth it if you can afford the cost. Otherwise you can look at programs from local companies that offer you an entire quote for all parts and the cost of installation.
Both of those are good options, but if you’re looking to save you should look for alternative suppliers. These are especially good if you can find used, refurbished, or overstock panels.
In my experience Santan Solar is by far one of the largest “wholesale” solar system suppliers with the most reasonable prices. They offer new products as well as used and refurbished. Depending on their availability you can find panels from common manufacturers like SunPower, Trina, REC, and more. They also have their SanTan Solar panels which are highly competitive in performance and cost.