Author Archives: Vikram Aggarwal

How to build your own solar panel system

build your own solar panels EnergySage

When you install solar panels, your home produces its own clean, zero-emissions electricity. If you’re DIY-minded, you can build your own solar power system. In some cases, you can even build your own solar panels, although the amount that you can effectively DIY home solar depends on how much you want to power.

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Solar Panels and Electric Cars: Can I Use Solar as an EV charger?

solar panel charging electric car battery on EnergySage

Solar panels and electric cars are a match made in heaven ­– when you install a solar energy system on your home, you can use it to both power your home and charge your electric car for emissions-free transportation. The cost of solar is falling rapidly, and companies from Tesla to Nissan are manufacturing electric cars for your daily use. Now, the ability to install a solar PV system large enough to power both your home and your car is an option within reach. But even with incentives and rebates available for both technologies, most homeowners still can’t afford to install solar and buy an electric car at the same time. Luckily, it’s easy to install a solar energy system today that takes your future electricity consumption into account, if you take a few additional factors into consideration.

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Solar sheds, community solar and more: alternatives to rooftop solar

rooftop solar alternatives

Homeowners across the United States are reducing their electricity costs and their carbon footprints by installing solar. For many solar shoppers, rooftop systems are the best home solar option. However, not every home has a roof that’s suitable for solar. Certain roof types, like slate and cedar tiles, are too fragile for solar panels. If trees shade your roof, you’ll have less-than-ideal solar electricity production, and some homeowners’ associations and historical associations have rules that restrict solar panel installations.

Luckily, there are a variety of alternative solar options for every situation. Whatever the reason is that you can’t install rooftop solar, there’s a solution available that can suit your needs.

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How to Calculate Solar Panel Payback Period (ROI)

Understanding the solar panel payback period

The financial benefits of going solar are now well documented. Solar panel systems actually function as investments with strong rates of return, and homeowners generating solar electricity can avoid paying increased utility rates by eliminating their electricity bills. According to a 2015 report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, installing solar panels on your home can even increase your property values. If you’re reviewing multiple quotes, there are plenty of metrics that can help you make a decision about which solar option is best for you, but studies show most solar shoppers rely on one metric in particular: the solar panel payback period or break-even point.

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Grid-Tied Solar vs. Solar Battery Backup: Which Is Right For You?

Grid tied vs. solar battery backup on EnergySage

Solar offers more than just an opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint. When you install solar panels on your roof, you are a step closer to taking your electricity production and consumption into your own hands. One of the biggest decisions solar shoppers have to make is whether to install a standard grid-tied solar energy system, a solar battery backup, or a fully off-grid solar energy system. Here’s everything that you should keep in mind when you’re deciding between grid-tied solar vs. an off-grid solar battery backup system.

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Community Solar: How to Go Solar Without Rooftop Panels

community solar projects for your home

Solar adoption is surging across the U.S., and it isn’t just limited to rooftop solar. The newest innovation in the solar industry: community solar, which offers many of the benefits of a home solar energy system without the need to install solar panels on your roof. To understand whether community solar is right for you, you’ll need to learn about the process and technology, when you should consider it, and how you can find local community solar projects near you.  Continue reading

Solar Energy vs. Wind Energy: Which is Right for Your Home?

solar vs wind energy

Installing a renewable energy system on your property is one of the best ways to save money on your electricity bills while reducing your impact on the environment. Often, your decision will be between solar energy and wind energy. If you’re a homeowner weighing your renewable energy options, you already know that thorough research is the best way to find the right system for your home. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of residential wind vs. solar so that you can make your decision with confidence.

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What to Know About a Solar Panel Warranty

What is a solar panel warranty?

A solar panel has two warranties: a performance and equipment guarantee. A solar panel’s performance warranty will typically guarantee 90% production at 10 years and 80% at 25 years. An equipment warranty will typically guarantee 10-12 years without failing. SunPower offers the best warranties.

A solar panel’s product warranty covers the integrity of the panel itself, and protects you against failures due to manufacturing defects, environmental issues, premature wear and tear, etc. As with most warranties, a longer period is generally more advantageous to you, if you own your solar panel system. When evaluating a solar panel warranty and its manufacturer, the two most important factors on which you should focus are:

1. Product (or materials) warranty, and
2. The performance warranty
We’ll address both of these in this article as we break down our process for finding the best solar warranties offered by manufacturers.

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Can I Go Off the Grid with Solar Batteries?

Going off the grid with solar batteries

Newer, more efficient solar panels and inverters have been in the news recently, but advancements in solar technology aren’t limited to standard equipment. Energy storage is also moving closer to mass-market adoption, and more installers are offering solar batteries and solar panel battery banks (a.k.a. solar-plus-storage) as an option for homeowners. Solar-plus-storage systems include a battery that captures and stores the excess energy generated by the system’s solar panels, opening up the possibility of going “off the grid” – a tempting proposition for homeowners who want to sever their connection with utility companies by using renewable energy.

Since solar battery technology is relatively new to the solar market, there isn’t significant solar storage capacity deployed in the U.S. That won’t be the case for long though: between utility and residential installations, solar battery deployment is expected to increase twelve times over in 2015. As solar batteries become cheaper and more accessible for homeowners, more people are wondering, “Can I use solar batteries to go off the grid with my solar panel system?”

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What are the Most Efficient Solar Panels on the Market?

For those looking for the most efficient solar panels for their PV system, the first thing you need to know is how to compare efficiency metrics for different manufacturer brands. Simply put, efficiency (expressed as a percentage) quantifies a solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Given the same amount of sunlight shining for the same duration of time on two solar panels with different efficiency ratings, the more efficient panel will produce more electricity than the less efficient panel.

most efficient solar panels on the market energysage

As the race for the most efficient solar panel continues, it’s important to understand how more efficient panels could mean much bigger solar savings for the everyday consumer.

In practical terms, for two solar panels of the same physical size, if one has a 21% efficiency rating and the other has a 14% efficiency rating, the 21% efficient panel will produce 50% more kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity under the same conditions as the 14% efficient panel. Thus, maximizing energy use and bill savings is heavily reliant on top tier solar panel energy efficiency.

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