A solar system consists of numerous components that all play an important role in providing solar power to a building.
Here are the basic ones found in every system:
Solar panels: converts solar power into electricity
Inverter: converts DC power from the solar panels and batteries into AC power for appliances
Solar array mounting racks: attach the panels to your building’s roof, poles, or the ground
Power, utility, and kilowatt meters: measures the amount of power used by and sent to the system’s grid
AC, breaker, and circuit breaker panels: joins the system’s power source to electrical circuits in the building
Out of all these components, the solar panels are the most visible and arguably the most important. But it can be hard to know what panels are best for your needs.
How Solar Works
Solar panels use a complex yet ecologically friendly process to convert the sun’s rays into solar energy. It starts with layers of silicon pressed together. But silicon isn’t great for conducting electricity. So to help generate an electrical field, one layer on top is treated to generate a negative charge and another underneath is treated to generate a positive charge. This is what allows a flow of electrons to conductive plates.
When the sun’s rays hit the top layer, photons knock electrons off the negatively-charged silicon and, thanks to the electrical field at the junction of both layers, those electrons go from the field to metal plates. Those plates collect the electrons and run them down wires, and there’s your electricity! That direct current energy runs to the inverter and converts to alternating current, which is what powers your home.
Because of their eco-friendly design and capabilities, solar panels are durable and easy to maintain. Even when buried under heavy snow or pelted by hailstones, solar panels can last through a lot of punishment and continue to generate electricity for decades. This is one of the many reasons they’re increasingly installed in new homes, offices, schools, and other structures. They’re an option that saves both on natural resources and costs while also being durable enough that they don’t need constant supervision.
Solar panels are easy to maintain and designed to last for years. They offer a high return on investment by lowering owners’ energy bills and avoiding the costly repairs that are found with traditional energy systems used in buildings. But there are a couple different ways to manufacture solar panels and they each have their benefits.
Mono or Poly?
The solar panels available to the public today come in two primary models: polycrystalline (poly) and monocrystalline (mono).
Poly solar panels are typically blue solar panels and are made from raw silicon that is poured into square molds. Once the silicon is cooled, it is then cut into square wafers. These poly solar panels offer a number of advantages that appeal to people who want to install a solar system in their home or business:
- They are low in cost, allowing most home and business owners to easily afford them. This is due to how they’re built. The “poly” part of the name refers to how their panels are made from multiple fragments of silicon, which makes them easy to produce.
- They perform well even in cloudy conditions or during overnight hours when the sun is not shining. They have an energy efficient rate of 13 to 16 percent on average.
But even at that energy rate, because of how they’re manufactured, poly solar panels are not as powerful as their mono solar panel counterparts. Poly panels also need more space to be installed and are not as aesthetically pleasing as other mono panels.
Alternatively, mono solar panels also offer a number of benefits:
- They are more efficient and have a higher output percentage, ranging from 15 to 20 percent. They also do not require large amounts of space for installation, which means you can use fewer mono solar panels and get a higher rate of energy.
- They are typically black, so they offer a clean, uniform look, and are designed to last longer than other types of solar panels. They also perform well in low light conditions and are crafted to absorb more energy.
These panels come with a higher cost per square foot, but with it comes a greater efficiency. Luckily there are plenty of ways to offset the costs when you buy to own.
Solar Panels with Blue Raven
Based on a thorough consideration of all the pros and cons above, at Blue Raven Solar we install 290-watt monocrystalline, tier 1, black-on-black solar panels. Our panels feature German engineering and offer outstanding performance and warranties.
This comes with a number of advantages:
- Opens up roofing options
- Generates more power and value
- Looks nice on your property
When you’re interested in solar panels for your home, you want to know all your options. With Blue Raven, you can ask for a free estimate and we’ll see if investing in monocrystalline panels is right for you.
We’ll ask you a few questions about your home location, your average monthly electricity bill, and what you’re looking for out of a solar system. Not every homeowner has the same goals with their investment, so we want to make sure you get the most out of your decision.
For our estimate, we’ll assume you want the solar panels for your home to generate as much or more power than you currently pay for from your utility company. The size of your solar system depends on a few things:
Solar panels need the sun to perform at peak efficiency, but that doesn’t mean homeowners in Maine or Seattle have to give up on the idea of generating their own power with solar panels for their home. Thanks to the efficiency of mono panels, many homes can still generate electricity on a cloudy day. When we take into account the average number of sunny days your location sees, we can build a system that compensates for the days with less sun.
Your power output needs will determine how many panels you’ll need. And with our tier 1 mono panels, we’ll be able to fit more per square foot on your roof than you would with other brands of poly panels.
In the Northern Hemisphere, solar panels facing the south tend to see the most sun in a day. The more solar panels on a south-facing roof, the more power generated on average. But that doesn’t preclude you from owning a solar system if the broadest areas of your roof face east or west—it just means we’ll have to work around that challenge by adding a few more panels.
If you want to move onto step two after you get an estimate from us, we’ll have a contractor visit your home to examine your roof and design a system that utilizes our tier 1 mono panels in a way that optimizes solar exposure and power production for your specific home.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when looking at what the best residential solar options are. But are the types of solar panel and the designs of your solar system the only considerations? When weighing the pros and cons of solar panels for your home, one thing a lot of people overlook is how they pay for their panels.
Buying vs. Leasing a Solar System
Once you have an idea for how solar panels for your home will fit on your roof, there’s always the question of how you pay for it.
A lot of people get turned off by the initial price of a solar system when it comes to buying to own. Solar systems, depending on your preferences, can run anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. That’s a big decision to make, and some companies would have you work around it entirely.
Some solar companies insist on leasing agreements. With these agreements, instead of you paying for the system, they’ll install it on your roof and you’ll rent the hardware from them. This avoids the big loan, but it also gives them (rather than you!) all the benefits that come from investing in solar panels for your home. At the end of the day, the money you would have spent on electricity goes to a different company.
You aren’t actually paying anything down. You’re renting the opportunity to go green.
Other companies have what are called Power Purchase Agreements (or PPAs). Instead of renting you the solar system, they’ll mount their home solar panels on your roof and then sell you the power the system generates. This is often at a big discount compared to your usual electricity bill—so it does save you money in the short run, but nowhere else.
When you buy-to-own your own solar system, you turn your monthly electricity bill into a payment toward a piece of equipment that’s going to boost the value of your home. What’s more, you have an end goal.
Let’s do a quick comparison:
- With your utility company? You pay perpetually or they turn your power off.
- With a lease agreement or PPA? You pay perpetually or they take their system back.
- With a solar system from Blue Raven Solar? As soon as you pay off the solar system, you’re in control of your own power. That monthly payment goes away as your system continues to generate electricity long after the loan’s behind you.
What solar panels are right for your home? The answer is: The solar panels that provide you the most value. Poly panels are cheaper, but they take more space and they aren’t as efficient. With our mono panels, combined with our product guarantee and 25-year manufacturer’s warranty, you have efficient, stylish solar panels that increase the value of your home.
Picking the Right Home Solar Panels
As you think about going solar, carefully consider your solar panel options and preferences, including budget, production, appearance, and warranty. Perhaps more importantly, make sure to choose an established and experienced solar installer to help you navigate the process and provide a high-quality installation so you can enjoy the benefits of going solar right away.
At Blue Raven Solar, we want you to be confident in your investment and are willing to walk you through all the steps for picking the solar panel system that fits you best. Contact us today for a free estimate to see how you can save with solar panels for your home.