Solar Power Systems

Go Green with Solar Energy

by Brett Freeman

It's somewhat of a misnomer to say that solar energy is free. Utilizing a photovoltaic (PV) solar system to green up your home and reduce electric bills requires a sizable up-front investment before you can start harvesting the sun's rays. And in most cases, the system will reduce rather than eliminate your electric bills, as you will need to stay connected to the grid to ensure you will have power at night and during periods of overcast weather.

PV Solar Panels: No Longer "Alien" Technology
The original solar panels that first started to appear during the 1970s looked like something out of a bad sci-fi film. Because they were relatively inefficient, the panels needed to be huge to produce a decent amount of electricity. Modern solar arrays designed for residential use look similar to those old dinosaurs, but they are much smaller: a typical home will only need to utilize 300 square feet or less of roof space for solar panels. And if you're turned off by even the thought of a small solar array on your home, you can opt for solar shingles instead. You will need to cover far more of your roof to generate the same electricity, but solar shingles resemble traditional roofing materials and therefore create far less visual impact.

Don't Go Dark at Night
As cheap and efficient as solar energy can be, it has one glaring (so to speak) shortcoming: nighttime. To avoid being without electricity at night and during bad weather, you will likely want to remain connected to the local power grid. But there's another reason you want to remain plugged in: in most states, utility companies will buy back any electricity that you generate but don't use so that, during the day, your electric meter will run backwards. The bottom line is that you only pay for electricity over and above what your solar array generates, and nothing gets wasted.


About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

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