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What to Know About Solar Panels for Your Home

Solar panels on the roof top of a home during sunset

Solar panels are an amazing and energy-efficient solution to harness the sun's rays and generate power for your home. Although they've been around for many years, they've become more practical and affordable over the past decade.

If you hope to save money on your utilities, use the sun to reduce your electric bill! Here's what you need to know about installing a solar panel system for your home.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Blue sky and the sun shining down upon solar panels

Solar energy has been around for a long time. The first panels were invented in the late 1800s when Charles Fritts created a solar cell with gold-coated selenium. Although the first solar cells were very low-energy, they confirmed that sunlight could make power.

Today’s solar panels are highly efficient. They are made from semiconductive materials such as silicon. Panels are usually installed within a metal frame under a glass casing. Sunlight generates photon particles. These particles knock electrons free from atoms, creating a charge. The energy generated by the sun is then absorbed by the photovoltaic (PV) cells within the panel.

The energy in the panels generates electricity and turns it into usable currents.The excess energy is often saved in a battery, so you can rely on solar energy even when there's little sunlight or at nighttime (no need to worry about sunny days to meet your energy needs). They can help you save on energy costs, lower your carbon footprint, and reduce your dependence on the power grid.

Most solar panel manufacturers offer beautiful panels that blend into the look of your home. The good news is that there are attractive solar panel options that won't grab attention (just the sun's rays for clean energy production). 

Cost: Will Solar Panels Get Cheaper?

A hand holding money in front of solar panels

Thanks to the latest advances in solar panel technology, solar energy is now a less expensive alternative than the previous options, even for residential solar panels. Because of the growth of solar energy and the trend to move away from traditional fossil fuels and other energy sources, there are also government incentives and tax credits to help.

The solar industry is receiving federal funding to help offset production costs, and much of these savings are passed onto the consumer. These days, solar panels are about 70% less expensive compared to just a decade ago!

Solar panels help you save money over time by lowering your dependence on the traditional "electricity grid." There are also other financial benefits to homeowners who go this route.

What Are Residential Solar Tax Credits?

State and Federal governments offer several tax credit options for people who purchase and install solar panels. In some cases, the credits are even available for vacation homes and rental properties. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit program runs through 2035 and can provide a 22-30% federal tax credit for the cost and installation of solar panels.

Many states also offer tax incentives to help offset the cost and installation of solar panels. Of course, before claiming any tax credit, it’s always a good idea to check with your tax accounting professional to ensure you properly qualify.

It's worth noting that your local utility company may also offer some incentives for installing a solar power system. These incentives may not apply towards your tax credit, so discussing them with your financial advisor to ensure you're maximizing your savings is essential. In addition to saving money on your monthly utility bills, you'll save with credits, making solar panels a very cost-effective option.

Benefits of Solar Panels

Solar panels have several other benefits besides saving on your utility bills and the possibility of tax credits. One of the main pros of choosing solar panels is that they can increase the value of your home. As we move towards more green energy options, solar panels offer an enormous appeal to potential buyers and can help you fetch a higher asking price.

Additionally, solar panels protect you and your family from power outages. If you live in rural areas or places where weather patterns can frequently lead to grid outages, solar panels offer reassurance that you'll have access to power no matter what happens.

Solar panels are also an eco-friendly choice. They can help to limit global warming and the potential damages of over-mining fossil fuels. Solar panels don't pollute the air or add to carbon emissions. They work with very low environmental impact, and solar energy is an unlimited resource.

The biggest benefit to homeowners is the savings solar panels provide on your energy bills. You can produce enough energy that you may not be dependent on the grid at all, or you may only need to use a small amount of local power. Solar energy can dramatically cut your monthly bills.

Maintenance & Upkeep: How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Hand cleaning a solar panel with a squeegee

If you're ready to invest in solar panels, you might wonder how long solar panels last. The answer can vary. Most manufacturers offer a 25-30-year warranty on panels. But that doesn't usually mean that panels suddenly stop working when they hit a certain age. Some panels continue to produce energy and work fairly efficiently for 50 years or more.

The problem with aging solar panels is that they degrade and decline over time. Eventually, they won't produce the same amount of energy as they did when they were brand new. Studies have shown that they can degrade at a rate of about .5% per year on average. When a panel reaches about 20 years old, it’s lost about 10% of its efficiency.

Otherwise, solar panels require very little maintenance. Most panels are installed on the roof of a house because they need a clear path to the sun. Make sure there are no trees or other items that block the sun's rays from the panel.

Solar panels may require periodic cleaning. About every 3-6 months, you may need to gently clean the panels, using a long-handled, non-abrasive wiper to clean from the ground. If you must get on the roof, take all precautions to ensure safety.

You may also need to clear snow from your solar panels in the winter. Again, the best way is to use a long-handled tool and work from the ground to keep yourself safe from accidents.

Where to Buy Solar Panels

There are many places where you can buy solar panels and solar power and generator accessories. Do it Best has many smaller-scale solar-powered lights and outdoor accessories to help you maximize the sun's power.

We also carry the tools and items needed to install solar panels on your home. Depending on the type of panels, the number, and the setup you have planned, you may need a ladder and basic tools to install your solar system.

For very large setups that can power your entire home, you’ll want to use a professional solar installer that provides a warranty and guarantee on their work. Shop around for the best solar company to help you save as much energy and money as possible. Some companies may offer financing options to help you offset the initial cost of solar panels.

After solar panel installation, the maintenance and upkeep of your solar panels is generally a DIY task, with occasional snow removal and cleaning. Keep an eye on any signs of damage to ensure that your solar panels continue to work for many years.

Is it Worth Getting Solar Panels?

Are solar panels a worthwhile investment for your home? It’s often a matter of personal preference, finances, and some calculations to decide if solar panels are a wise investment.

With tax incentives and other savings options, solar panels can significantly cut back on your monthly payments. Depending on how much power they generate, they can offer dramatic savings on energy consumption. They can help make your household less dependent on city power grids and are a positive investment in the planet's future.

That said, solar panels require an investment with a somewhat high upfront cost. It’s important to decide if the total cost savings are worth it for your particular situation in the long run. They will often increase the value of the average home, and gone are the days when solar panels were an eyesore. Many solar panels blend right into the look of your roof. If you live in a rural location or are subject to weather hazards, solar panels can help ensure that you always have as much electricity as you need when you need it.

Should you decide that solar panels are a smart investment for your family, you’ll get the accessories and items you need for maintenance and upkeep at your local Do it Best. We carry the tools to help you get all your home projects completed!


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