9 Frequently asked questions about solar panels [in 2021]

solar panel faqs

Solar panels are a hot topic and that’s because solar energy is here to stay. 2021 saw a huge boost in solar energy with the US finally surpassing three million solar installations, which translates into 5.7 GWdc of solar capacity for residences and commercial businesses. Solar is on the move and just in the last decade, solar energy has grown around 42% on average each year (SEIA). Solar continues to expand into new areas of the world as more and more homes turn to the sun to power their homes. And much of this growth is fueled by the cost to install solar dropping by around 70% over the last decade (according to SEIA).

All this growth means more people are being introduced to the concept of solar energy, which is great news for every city and state’s renewable energy goals. But it also means more people than ever have questions about solar energy. Since we’re in the business of solar, we went ahead and answered a few frequently asked questions about solar panels. From “Do solar panels work in the winter” to “How much energy solar panels produce”, we’ve rounded out some of the top questions about solar panels people had in 2021.

How much energy does a solar panel produce?

how much energy does a solar panel produceEach solar panel has a wattage associated with it. This means that this solar panel can be expected to produce 355 watts of power, under ideal sunlight and temperature conditions. Therefore, this number is theoretical, depending on the actual conditions your home experiences. Calculating the actual output also depends on the brand and model of solar panel you’re using as well as the efficiency.

Here is an example of how much energy a typical solar panel will produce. If you had a 355W solar panel and it produced around 2.5 kilowatt-hours per day (under a decent amount of sunlight each day), then you could expect around 900 kilowatt-hours of power each year. Again, this is a very rough estimate of how much energy you could expect from one solar panel and depends on a lot of factors. To get an accurate answer, you’ll want to discuss your home energy goals with a professional solar energy specialist who can customize your system according to these goals.

A major factor in how much energy you can expect each of your solar panels to produce has to do with something called efficiency. Solar panel efficiency is the measurement of what percentage of sunlight your panels can turn into energy. It makes a difference because if your panels are 14% efficient they will produce significantly less power than if they are 20% efficient. Therefore, it makes sense to choose solar panels with higher efficiency to get the most out of your solar panel system. If you want to know more about solar panel efficiency, read: Why does solar panel efficiency matter?

Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

Yes- solar panels still work on cloudy days. Just like you can get a sunburn through the clouds, the amount of sun shining through the clouds on a dreary day can still power your home. The amount of potential solar energy produced will most likely be less than a full sunshine day. However, it could still be enough to power your home, depending on your home, your solar panels, and where you live. It also depends on what time of day the clouds are out. If you have full sunshine during peak sunlight hours, you could have enough power to store in your solar battery to power your home the rest of the day. In fact, solar panels still work on cloudy days, while it’s raining, and even in the snow.

Read more about: Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

Do solar panels work at night?

do solar panels work at nightSolar panels work by converting sunlight into power. Therefore, solar panels will not work at night. However, your solar panel system may still work at night if you have a solar panel battery. A solar panel battery can store the excess energy your solar panels produced during peak sunlight hours of the day. Then you can use that stored energy during night or during power outages.

Solar batteries are the best way to make the most out of your solar panels. This way you can have even more independence from your utility company by producing your own power, storing it, and using it at night or when the grid goes down.

If you’re interested to read more about how solar can help you during power outages, read:  Solar panels and power outages: what you need to know.

How much do solar panels save?

how much do solar panels saveYou can save a lot of money by having solar panels installed on your home. How much exactly depends on a few factors including your home’s energy use and cost, how many solar panels are installed and if you choose to include a solar battery in your system. You’ll want to speak to a qualified Solar Energy Specialist in order to find out the details of how much solar can save you for your specific situation.

Read more about how much solar panels save.

The amount of money you can save when you get solar installed for your home depends on how many solar panels are installed. This also has a lot to do with how much energy you can expect to produce from your solar system. The factors involved in this are: your home’s energy use, the type of roof you have, how much sunshine your home gets, the type of panels you choose, and your home energy goals which you will discuss with your Solar Energy Specialist during the free home consultation. Here’s what to expect.

Who invented solar panels?

Like many great inventions, to get solar panels to the great technology they are today, many different people contributed throughout the years. However, the first documented person to observe an electrical charge of certain materials upon exposure to light was Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel in 1839.

Then, in 1881, Charles Fritts was the first to build a commercial solar panel which was very inefficient. In 1939 Russel Ohl was the one who designed the solar cell design that is used in modern solar cells.

Read more about solar energy pioneers.

Do solar panels work in winter?

solar panels and snowSolar panels do work in winter because the sun is still shining! Even during overcast and snowy days sunshine still gets through to power your panels. While the panels may not work at full capacity, it could be enough to power your home. And like we mentioned earlier, if you have a solar panel battery, you have the ability to store the energy your solar panels produce to use it for later.

In fact, solar panels may have increased ability to work in cold weather. Solar panels use the sun’s heat to create power, but in extreme heat situations, solar panel efficiency may actually be decreased. You’ll want to make sure you find solar panels that can withstand extreme heat and weather situations. Read: Do solar panels get hot?

And this is great news considering winter electricity bills are higher than ever before. Now is a great time to see what solar energy can do for your home.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels can last a long time, especially if you choose the right brand and solar company to work with. On average, typical solar panels last anywhere from 10 to 40 years, depending on these factors. A major factor involved in how long solar panels will last is something called degradation rate. This is the rate of decline in power output and solar panels have an average degradation rate of 0.5% per year. However, if you choose high quality solar panels, your solar panels have a better chance at lasting longer. And even when they don’t, they’ll be backed by a warranty. That’s why we partner with solar panels that have a higher resistance to degradation and include a 25-year warranty.

Read more about How long solar panels really last.

How many solar panels to run a house?

how many solar panels to run a houseHow many solar panels you’ll need to run your entire house is dependent on a few factors. These factors include the size of your home, how much energy your home uses, how much sunlight your home gets, and what type of solar panels you’ll be using. Therefore, the best and easiest way to know how many solar panels are needed to run a house is to schedule a free consultation with a qualified Solar Energy Specialist. Together, you can evaluate what your home energy goals are and the best solar solution will be.

Here’s an example for an average home of 1800 sqft.

Let’s say an 1800 sq. ft. home will average around 1,300 kwh for a family of four with moderate energy usage. The total kwh for the year would be around 15,600 a year. Using the equation of:

Number of panels = system size / production ratio / panel wattage

You can plug the numbers into this equation: (15,600) / 1.5 / 355 = number of solar panels.

So for this example, the home may need 25-30 panels, depending on your home energy usage.

Read more: How many solar panels are needed to power a house?

What direction should solar panels face?

which direction should solar panels faceIf you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the ideal position for solar panels to face is south. The sun is traveling along the southern part of the sky and therefore to capture the maximum amount of sunlight, it is considered best practice to angle them towards the sun in the south.

In addition to facing south if possible, your solar installer will mount your solar panels at an angle of around 30-40 degree tilt, depending on your roof and your location. In other words, this tilt is in line with how far you live from the equator. Installing your solar panels on a tilt means they will receive the most amount of sunshine for where you live. This also means your solar panels will be easier to clean. Any debris that happens to collect will be washed away by rain and snow will slide off and melt faster.

Should I get solar panels?

Of course! And if we’ve done enough to convince you of this, why not schedule a free solar consultation with us to find out more specific answers to your particular situation. And if you’re not quite ready yet, why not find out what happens at your solar consultation.

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