Solar energy has emerged as a popular and increasingly widespread and cost-efficient method of harnessing alternate power, shifting away from traditional fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Many commercial buildings have solar panels on them, and solar energy is often harvested in huge solar panel farms in sunny, dry areas such as Arizona and Nevada. Many American homes, meanwhile, can be upgraded to have residential solar energy provide power for the home, and in recent years, solar panels have become ever cheaper and more convenient to use, and they can quickly pay for themselves and beyond. What can a homeowner do to get residential solar energy for the home, and when is it time to install?
Using Solar Energy
What is solar energy? It is when photons from the sun strikes a panel and excited the molecules inside, generating electricity so long as the sun continues to shine on it. No waste materials of any kind are produced from commercial or residential solar energy, and there are not even any moving parts involved. On a small scale, solar panels can make a home or building independent of the local power grid, and on a larger scale, solar farms can power entire communities without needing a single watt from local power plants. Today, solar companies have plenty of work to do, and they have already come a long way; some 1.3 million solar installations can be found across the United States, and together, they have a cumulative capacity reaching 40 gigawatts. Since 1 megawatt can power about 164 homes, 40 gigawatts can power 6.5 million American households, according to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association. Residential solar energy is already here, and gaining momentum all the time. Any homeowner can make the switch and become a solar panel user, if the right procedure is followed.
Harnessing Residential Solar Energy
According to Energy Sage, five general steps can be followed so that solar panels for houses can be installed effectively, legally, and on a good timetable. First, after the homeowner signs a solar contract, an engineer, whether employed by the installer or operating independent, will visit the property and look over its electrical systems to ensure that everything will be compatible with a solar setup. The engineer will also make sure that the roof is solid and that it can support solar panels, and the engineer may also inspect the electrical panel and suggest upgrades, if they are needed.
The homeowner will also fill out paperwork, as will the installer, such as building permits, as well as applying for state and federal solar incentives. The homeowner can check in with the installer to get updates on the paperwork progress.
Next, the installer places an order for equipment from their supplier, such as the panels themselves and inverters, and installers may provide consulting services on these devices to the homeowner, helping them choose a brand and aesthetic. The homeowner’s property will be added to the installer’s queue, and homeowners should note that winter is a less busy time for installers, so the process may be faster then. And during installation, the crews will put the solar panels and their supports into place on the roof, and will install the proper wiring throughout the house to connect to the electrical panel and overall power system. Inverters will also be set up to convert the panels’ direct current (DC) energy into alternating current (AC) that the home uses. Finally, a town or city representative will look over the completed system and give approval, along with the local power grid’s approval, and the whole system can be activated. As long as there are no safety or maintenance issues in the solar system or the roof that it is attached to, approval can be expected within two weeks to a month.