Solar energy is one of the most promising renewable energy solutions to help cut down on your monthly electricity bills. You can generate your own power right at home with solar panels, which helps reduce strain on your local power grid and saves you money in the long run. Solar panels are relatively easy to implement, but there's a lot that goes into a solar installation. Before you decide whether it's a good option for you or not, you need to know the basics about how solar panels work as well as what makes for an ideal location for them.
How Solar Panels Work
Solar panels connect to the grid in one of two ways. One is through a bidirectional meter, which tracks how much power your home is drawing from the grid and how much it's putting back in. The other option, called net metering, is when power production and consumption are balanced every month.
Many homeowners install solar panels on their roofs in order to generate clean power with no emissions that can be sold back to the utility company. Solar panels absorb energy from the sun during the day, which is then converted into electrical current that powers your home.
The Location for Your Solar Panels
Photovoltaic cells make up solar panels that convert light into electricity. The more light they capture, the more electricity they produce.
Your solar installer will help you find the best location for your array based on a number of factors, including:
- Sunlight exposure: The more sun exposure, the better. South-facing roofs are ideal because they catch the most direct sunlight. Trees or other structures may also cast shadows on your roof, reducing production.
- An unobstructed view of the sky: Solar panels work rain or shine! However, tall buildings nearby may restrict sunlight to your property and reduce overall energy production.
- Orientation: For maximum efficiency, your solar panels should face south if you live in the northern hemisphere. North-facing panels are recommended for homes in North America because they will get the most sun.
- Slope and pitch: Flat roofs offer more surface area for solar panels than pitched roofs do. That said, steeper roofs often have less shade and might be better for long-term installations.
These are some of the factors to consider when choosing the best location for your solar panels.
Going Beyond Solar
Before you decide if solar is the way to go, it's important to understand how many options are available for harnessing renewable energy.
There are a few different types of renewable energy: solar, wind, and hydroelectric. While solar and wind power can be installed in homes, hydroelectric power relies on a lot of space for water flow or a large amount of water pressure at once.
When you get ready to invest in solar, contact a renewable energy service to discuss the right solutions for your home.