What to know about Solar Panel Systems

Solar panels are becoming more common than before as a clean source of energy, many homeowners are considering getting a solar panel system for their home and cut down the electricity bill costs, and invest in their home to increase its value, in this article, we will answer most frequent questions and explain further about what is solar panel, and what does solar panels mean exactly.

Solar Panel Definition

Solar panels are devices built to absorb and convert the sunlight energy into heat or electricity depending on the needed output, they are mainly used to power up remote power systems that include cabins, communications equipment, and producing energy for residential and commercial properties.

But What is the Meaning of Solar Panel

To explain further, a panel Is a collection of the photovoltaic cells (or PV), which is used to produce electricity through photovoltaic effect, these cells are placed in a grid-like pattern to shape the surface of the panels.

What Do I Need for a Solar Panel System?

It is always wise to be prepared when it comes to beneficial projects like solar energy system, while the components of a PV system are simple, the variety of products and brands can make the final decision fairly complicated, we will break it down into five main equipment that you will need.

  1. Solar Panels
  2. the main factors that you should consider when you pick the brand of the panels that you will have are cost, warranty, and the technology type.

    the panels are generally divided into two types, monocrystalline and polycrystalline, both types have the same function but they differ in appearance, monocrystalline is more efficient and more expensive and come in dark blue or black tint color panels, but the polycrystalline is more affordable and comes in a lighter blue color panel.

  3. Inverters
  4. after the panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC), the inverter converts the direct current into alternating current (AC) for all residential and commercial use, however, there are three types of inverters to compare.

    • String inverters:
    • also known as centralizing inverters, the reason they are given this name is to refer to the string technology that attaches your solar array to the panel of your home, this type of inverter is the most affordable option as well.

    • Micro-inverters:
    • the difference between them and the string inverters is that they are connected individually to every panel, thus maximizing the production of your array, they are also considered as the most expensive option among the inverters

    • Power Optimizers:
    • these devices are not considered as inverters but they do the same function, they combine the definitions of micro and string inverters, they are considered ideal for higher maintenance roofs with shading issues or panels that need to face other directions, they offer monitoring performance for each panel.

  5. Panel holders
  6. it might come as a surprise for homeowners that the panels are not attached directly onto the roof of the home, they are placed onto solar racking equipment, it allows the professional installer to angle the panels for maximum performance and efficiency, it is good equipment if you are looking to install the panels on the ground rather than on your roof.

  7. Performance monitoring systems
  8. this device will show you the amount of electricity produced by your panels by the hour while tracking any performance issues your system might encounter.

  9. Extra batteries
  10. adding batteries to your solar energy system is always a wise decision and considered one of the best electricity plans with solar panels, they can perform as a backup electricity source during the nighttime or any case of bad weather, these solar batteries are available as either lead-acid or lithium-ion, the difference between them is that the lithium-ion is more expensive and more efficient than the lead-acid.

How to Determine How many Solar Panels I Need?

One of the first question homeowners ask the professional installers is how to calculate how many solar panels I need?

the average home will need between 21 and 34 solar panels to cover its electric bill

but it is also worth noting that each house has its own electricity consumption that is different from another house, the easiest way to track it is by checking the monthly electricity bill and decide how many will you need.

Will I be able to add more solar panels to my system in the future?

There are 5 factors to consider for adding new solar panels:

  1. Energy needed
  2. addressing how many solar panels will you need is important for it will affect your system design and cost for the added panels.

  3. Space for new panels
  4. if you have a rooftop solar panel system and you ran out of space on it, a ground mount system will be a good alternative to install the new panels.

  5. Panel’s similarity
  6. it is a wise decision to install the same type of panels that you have when adding new panels, this will keep everything matched aesthetically with the same power output and efficiency, if you could not find the exact same panels, it is advisable that you still look to install new panels with the same power output, otherwise your array could be damaged.

  7. Inverter replacement
  8. it is important to check the limits of your inverter when adding new panels, you might need to replace it if it cannot handle the capacity after adding the new ones to your system.

  9. The expert installer
  10. having the same professionals that installed your system is a good idea, they will be familiar with your system and will have the knowledge needed to handle and add new panels onto your system.

How Big of Solar Panel system Do I Need?

When discussing the size of the solar panels, we are basically discussing the system’s capacity to produce electricity.

the first element is your monthly and yearly power bill and usage, keeping in mind when adding more devices into your home will significantly add more Watts to demand from the panels, if you have future plans to increase household members, it might be a good idea to consider larger sized panels.

the second element is the daily direct sunlight, it is why the location of the project matters, different positions on earth can affect the angle of the sunlight hitting different places in the country, the size of the panels will determine how much sunlight absorbed, and stored.

How much would Solar Panels cost Me?

To talk about how much do solar panels cost can differ from a state to another.

Are solar panels worth the cost? Absolutely, the financial benefits of going solar are significant, you can tell by noticing the monthly electricity bill and how it more affordable than pre-solar.

here is a list for solar system sizes with their cost before tax credit :

System sizeCost before tax credit
2 kW$5,060 - $6,300
5 kW$7,590 - $9,540
10 kW$25,300 - $31,500
15 kW$37,950 - 47,250
25 kW$63,250 - $78,750

Not that you will receive almost immediately after installation about 26%+ of the system’s cost.

Will Solar Panel Prices go Down?

The solar energy system components became more affordable over the past decade, and their prices are expected to continue to drop as well.

However, the solar panels’ installation cost will not be dropping at the same rate, the cost of the hardware is less than 40% of the total price for a home solar installation, some predict it might increase as local and federal rebates expire.

How to Make Solar Panels Look Good?

There are aesthetically pleasing ways to take advantage of the benefits of solar panels and having an attractive home, there are two factors to combine the efficiency and the beauty of owning a solar energy system.

  1. Choosing the location for the panels
  2. installing solar panels over the roof is the most common option and gives a more futuristic look but if you are looking to keep your house the way it is, you can install the panels somewhere more discreet like the backside of your roof, but keep in mind that solar panels tend to give the most energy when they are facing south, in case your house is facing north.

    another way to install solar panels is the ground mounts option, it uses a racking system pinned to the ground in concrete, the main disadvantage of this option is that it is slightly more expensive.

  3. Matching the color of the panels with your roof
  4. most solar panels come in either silver or black, with white frames or none, matching the roof’s color palette can be a great idea to make the house more attractive, if this luxury is not doable, you can install the panels to be on both ends of the roof or choosing one side to install all the panels to give it the organized look.

solar panel series vs parallel, which one is better?

to have the full idea about how panels are connected and wired, we will list the two main types of connection that is common in every household with solar energy system:

note that you can have both types of wiring at the same time in your system, large solar energy systems tend to use the hybrid connection for voltage and amperage balance.

overall, the wiring of your solar panels comes down to your system size.