Independent Living: A Guide To A Solar Powered Home

Solar panels are an amazing investment for any home. Adding solar panels to your roof can save you money on (or even eliminate) your electric bill while reducing your carbon footprint on the planet. If you're interested in having solar panels or shingles installed on your roof, here is a guide to tell you everything you need to know.

How Solar Power Works

Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to harness energy from the sun and create direct current (DC) electricity. Next, an inverter converts the DC to alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type of electricity that you need to power your home. Depending on how many solar panels you have, you can either reduce the amount of electricity you use from your electric company, or power your entire home with solar energy.

Benefits of Solar Panels

There are several advantages to adding solar panels to your home. These include:

  • Save money—the average homeowner with solar panels saves 50% on their energy bill. A larger system will eliminate your bill completely.
  • Increase home value—depending on your location, solar panels will add between $5.50 & $6.40 per watt to your home.
  • Faster home sale—homes with solar paneling sell 15% quicker than homes without it.
  • Reduce carbon production—home electrical use produces about 7 1/2 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

Backup Systems

One question that many people have is, "What do I do if the sun isn't shining?" If you are still using electric from your electric company, this obviously isn't an issue. However, if you are trying to be completely self-dependent to power your home, you need a backup system unless you plan to light some candles when the sun sets. The most common method is to have solar energy batteries installed with your solar panels. These batteries store the energy that the sun creates. Once the sun is not longer producing enough energy for the power that you need, the stored energy from the batteries kick in.

Another method is a backup generator. If the weather isn't cooperating or the sun sets for the day, your backup generator will kick on. You can buy a generator that runs off of natural gas, or even a solar powered generator. All of your electricity will be solely provided from the sun.

Solar Panels vs. Solar Shingles

Solar panels are installed on top of your existing roof. A huge benefit to solar panels is that you can buy a solar panel kit and install them yourself without any professional help. They'll last 30-40 years, leaving you with solar energy for a large majority or even the rest of your life.

 Although solar panels have fantastic benefits, they have drawbacks as well. Although you install them on your existing roof, you don't want to install them on an old roof. Doing so will cause your roof life to end long before the life of your solar panels. Another issue with solar panels is the gap. They're installed about six inches above your shingles. The gap left between the shingles and panels leaves space for animals to nest.

Solar hit the market in 2005. They are installed in place of your traditional shingles. If your roof is old, you won't have to replace your shingles and add solar panels on top. The shingles are lightweight, flexible, and a gorgeous indigo blue color.

The ease of having solar panels for shingles may seem optimal, but they have their drawbacks as well. With less than a decade of use, there is insufficient data to conclusively state how long they last. Solar shingles are also difficult to position since they lay flat on your roof. If your roof doesn't face south they may not produce sufficient energy.

Solar panels and shingles are both a great way to power your home. It's an investment that will save you money for possibly the rest of your life. You can click here for info on living green and independently without sacrificing energy to your home.