Understanding Solar Technology in 2024

Solar energy has continued to soar in the United States, with about 4% of all single-family homes using solar panels as of 2020. These numbers are mostly driven by a growing desire to help the environment, but there are plenty of other incentives.

Solar technology’s evolution has led to a great deal of solar trends that can feel overwhelming to keep up with. How can you understand all of the information flooding the market, and how does it change your solar panel array?

If you’re finding the information a bit too much to handle, we’re happy to help. Read on for a brief overview of some of the most important information surrounding solar panels.

Why Solar Technology?

To start, why is solar technology the trend in home energy? There are plenty of reasons, but we’ve gathered the three most common. Here are the main reasons people are interested in solar energy.

Environmental Benefits

By and large, many people who are switching to solar panels are doing so, at least partially, out of concern for the environment. Solar panels cause no emissions and are much healthier for the environment than most other types of energy.

Typical fossil fuels such as oil and coal cause an immense amount of pollution. By some estimates, the burning of fossil fuels for electricity generates over 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide.

Solar panels generate no extraneous carbon dioxide during their operation. They generate clean electricity from the sun instead.

Best of all, they’re also “renewable” and sustainable. Oil and coal can run out and need constant replenishing through mining and drilling. But with solar energy, you’ll have power for as long as Earth has a sun.

Detractors of solar technology are quick to point out that solar panels cause emissions during their manufacturing. While this is true, this is mostly a bad faith argument, as the same is true for everything that has ever been manufactured. Once solar panels are installed and functioning, their emissions are non-existent.

Cost Benefits

Another enormous benefit is the cost-saving factor of solar. Your power bill is decided by how much power you draw from the local grid. The more you use, the higher your bill, and vice versa.

Solar panels generate energy for your home first and foremost. Your home will use this energy first before pulling on the grid. In many cases, you can use your solar energy without ever pulling from the local grid.

As a result, your power bill will always cost less. In some cases, you can even earn credits toward your bill with solar panels.

One way to do so is with net metering. As you generate electricity, your panels can send unused energy throughout the local grid. Your utility company then doesn’t need to supply that energy to those areas.

As such, they’ll often credit you toward your account, helping you lower your bill further. Net metering isn’t used in every city and state, so check with your locale to see if this is an option.

There are also many tax credits, with some state governments going so far as to pay for your solar installation. Do some research on your local codes and see how you can benefit from your panels.

Added Autonomy

Finally, the added autonomy of a solar array is crucial for many homeowners. When relying on the power company, you’re at the mercy of their rules and codes. If they raise the price, you can rarely do anything about it, as every home needs electricity.

With solar panels, you can supply your own electricity in part. If you have a large enough array, you can power your home night and day. Using batteries to do so is a great way to help.

It also can help you in times of strife, such as an environmental disaster knocking out the local power grid. That way, you’ll still have electricity even when your local grid is down.

Improving Your Solar Panels

A hot topic in the solar panel community is how to get the most out of your solar installation. How can you add more panels or improve their efficiency? Here are the best ways to improve your array.

Adding Panels

Your panels have limits – one panel will not generate enough electricity for the average home. That’s why you’ll often see solar farms full of hundreds of panels instead of just a few powerful panels in an array.

How much energy your panels generate depends on a swathe of factors, from manufacturer to where you live. But a definite way to improve any array is to add more panels.

Adding more panels isn’t always easy and is something you should rely on professionals for. You should research tips for integrating additional panels and see how it would change your array.

Increasing Efficiency

Another great way to improve your solar panels is to do maintenance to make them more efficient. These are all simple tasks that you can typically do yourself.

The first way is to improve how much sunlight is hitting them. If you have tree coverage, you can do so by clearing out the trees that are blocking the sun. Clearing a path for more sunlight will naturally increase your energy generation.

Second, make sure your panels are clean. If dirt or dust cakes over them, it can stop sunlight from reaching the panels beneath. Keeping them clean will stop anything from obstructing the sunlight and improve their efficiency.

You should also have them inspected once a year by a professional solar company. Doing so will make sure you catch any issues beforehand so you can improve them.

Mastering Solar Technology

As solar technology improves, finding new ways to follow the trends and enhance your existing solar panels is crucial. You should always perform research and see what new innovations could help you get the most out of your solar installation. Always communicate with the company that installed them so you can keep them maintained.

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