Many homeowners in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, have made the decision to use solar energy for their homes. Solar benefits are perceived as energy-saving, increasing the value of property, and reducing carbon emissions. However, switching to solar might not be the right option for every home. Homeowners should consider the pros and cons of solar energy before deciding to switch.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels function due to the photovoltaic effect, a discovery made in 1839. The basic principle is that certain materials, known as semiconductors, can generate electricity when exposed to sunlight.

A simplified explanation of the photovoltaic effect is that sunlight strikes solar cells, energizing the electrons within them. This energized movement of electrons creates an electrical current as they travel out of the junction between the layers of the solar cell. Wires and metal plates are utilized to capture this flow of electrons and convert it into usable energy.

Solar cells, which are the components that comprise a solar panel, are typically made from silicon, a nonmetal semiconductor known for its ability to convert sunlight into electricity. While silicon is not the sole semiconductor used in solar cells, it accounts for approximately 95% of those available on the market.

Solar panels consist of two layers of silicon, each of which is treated to create an electric field at the junction between them. This electric field compels loose electrons to travel through the solar cell and out of the silicon junction, generating electric current. Boron and phosphorus are employed as negative and positive doping agents, establishing the negative and positive sides of the photovoltaic cell.

Metal plates on the solar panels collect the electrons generated by the electric field and transfer them to connecting wires. These electrons then exit the solar panel by way of wiring, proceed to the solar inverter, and are directed to power your home.

Do Solar Panels Save You Money?

If you perform some simple math, you can estimate the potential savings from solar panels. The first step is to consider the initial investment required for a solar panel system. Then, assess its energy production capacity. With this information, you can roughly estimate the amount you might save on your energy bills each month.

One aspect often overlooked in these calculations is the lifespan of solar panels. Newer solar panels can maintain efficiency for between 25 and 30 years. Many homeowners can recover their initial investment in solar panels within the first 10 to 15 years after installation. This means that once you’ve paid off your solar panels, you’ll likely enjoy over a decade of pure savings on your utility bills.

Consider the following example: In your area, solar panel installation might cost $20,000. Assuming a 30% tax credit, your estimated expense would be around $14,000. If you save $150 per month on electricity, once you’ve recouped your initial investment, you’ll see savings of $1,800 per year. This calculation doesn’t include potential earnings from net metering programs, which allow you to sell excess energy back to the grid.

When assessing potential savings, it’s essential to consider the amount of sunlight your home receives annually. Homes with less optimal sunshine may experience lower savings from solar panels each year. Additionally, improperly installed solar panels may operate less efficiently. Therefore, it’s advisable to only work with solar panel technicians with a proven track record of correct installation.

Will Your Home Benefit From Solar Panels?

The higher your state’s electricity rates, the greater the savings you will receive. Several factors should be considered to determine if solar panels are worth the cost for your home.

View of the Southern Sky

For optimal solar energy performance, your solar panels should have an unobstructed view of the southern sky. Trees or other buildings blocking direct sunlight will reduce the effectiveness of your solar system.

Local Electricity Rates

Electricity rates vary by state and sometimes by county. Knowing your local rates and performing some simple math will help you determine potential savings from a solar system operating under optimal conditions.

Size of Your Solar System

The larger your house, the more solar panels you will need to adequately power it. This may result in a slightly higher initial investment in solar panels.

Lease Versus Purchase

Leasing solar panels typically involves a lower upfront cost. However, you will not benefit from the tax incentives available to those who purchase a system. Purchasing a system of solar panels requires a higher initial investment.

The Price of Battery Backups

Consider whether you will need multiple battery backups, especially if you live in an area prone to power outages. Additional expenses for backups to store energy during prolonged outages could offset some of the long-term savings from using solar panels.

Pros of Installing Solar Panels

Reduced Electric Bill

Using solar energy can lead to drastic savings on your energy bill. Energy prices are constantly rising, and depending on your home’s size and energy needs, solar panels may significantly reduce or eliminate your electric bill entirely.

Energy Independence

Solar panels decrease reliance on utility companies’ energy grids. With solar batteries and a sufficiently large system, your home could become entirely self-reliant and independent from the energy grid. Solar batteries store energy for use during times of need or on cloudy days, providing flexibility to remain connected or disconnected from the grid based on personal energy goals. Additionally, solar panels can power your home during blackouts or power outages, offering stability and flexibility.

Clean Energy Source

Solar panels maximize the generation of clean, carbon-free energy. Although manufacturing solar panels produces some greenhouse gas emissions, it is significantly less than the emissions produced by fossil fuels like coal. Solar energy reduces reliance on fossil fuels and associated harmful emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment.

Makes Your Home More Valuable

Installing solar panels typically increases the value of your home. Solar panels can add between $10,000 and $15,000 to your home’s value, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Cons of Solar Panels

Solar panels are a significant investment with many benefits, but there are also some downsides.

Solar Panels Are Expensive

Installing solar panels requires a major investment. However, federal tax credits can offset a substantial portion of the initial investment. Additionally, some states offer rebates that further reduce the cost.

It Can Take a While to Recoup the Investment

Understanding the amount of time it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves is crucial when assessing their financial viability. Depending on energy costs and electricity usage, it can take up to 12 years or even longer to recoup the investment. Calculating the solar payback timeframe before purchasing a solar system is essential, especially if you’re considering solar panels for long-term savings.

Not Always Compatible

Installing a solar panel system may not be feasible for every home. Homes with insufficient sunlight or limited space may find solar panel installation to be expensive and less productive. Additional expenses may be incurred for tree trimming or roof repairs before solar panel installation. The orientation, pitch, and angle of your roof also impact the efficiency and productivity of solar panels. For instance, if your roof is shaded or faces north, it may not be suitable for solar panel installation.

Electoral Home Service Specialists in Minneapolis and St. Paul

At Finch Home Solutions, we strive to provide the most effective and safe electrical services. Regardless of your situation, our electricians are skilled at handling your residential electrical needs. No job is too big or too small. We are proud of our A+ Better Business Bureau rating and have received other awards and certificates for our service.

Our services include electrical installation, repair, and maintenance. We install EV charging stations, indoor and outdoor lighting, smoke alarms, surge protection, and ceiling fan wiring. Contact Finch Home Solutions today.

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