Solar Energy for Non-experts
How long has solar energy been around?
In 1839, French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered the “photovoltaic effect” while experimenting with precious metals suspended in fluid. When the metals were exposed to sunlight, they generated electricity. Eureka.
In 1954, Bell Laboratories introduced the very first modern solar cell to the free market. Assemblies of solar cells make up the modules you see on homes and businesses today.
In 1981, the first large-scale utility thermal solar tower, Solar One, came online. Consisting of over 1,800 mirrors, it reflected the sun’s energy to the top of a large water-filled tower. The power plant produced 10 MW of electricity—that’s enough to power 7,500 homes.
In 1983, Minnesota passed the first net metering law, meaning it was the first state to allow excess energy to “roll over.” By 1998, utilities in 22 states adopted net metering. As of 2018, 43 states have adopted net metering programs.
How do solar systems produce power?
The sun delivers photons to silicon solar modules that in turn generate direct current.
Inverters change direct current to alternating current for home use.
A solar meter monitors and measures the incoming alternating energy from the solar system.
Through the main home electric panel, appliances consume the converted solar energy throughout the day.
The unused solar energy travels to the local utility grid feeding the demand of neighboring businesses and homes.
Every extra bit of solar energy you give to the grid is tracked, so you can dip into that bank during times of high usage, at night, or during bad weather.
Are there different methods of solar?
Grid-tied solar systems allow you to share leftover power with the grid to earn credit, but only when the grid is on. When the grid is down, so is your power.
Hybrid systems function much like grid-tied systems, except for during grid outages. When the grid is off, you have some backup battery power to tide you over.
Off-grid systems allows you to consume power as you need it and store leftover power in battery storage when the sun isn't out. Forget the grid—your home is self-suficient.
Why make the switch?
We are driven to better the earth, and we believe cleaner, more sustainable energy is the way to achieve that goal.
The huge cost difference between traditional fossil fuels and solar energy will save you a lot of money in the long run. We love a good money-saving guarantee.
Increase in home value varies, but your home equity gcould grow $3.50 for every watt of solar we install. Let's say you get a 6-kilowatt system—that's an extra $21,000 of value.
Becoming energy independent at home or work has never been safer and simpler with the combined forces of battery and solar technologies.
Does going solar have any tax benefits?
The short answer is yes, with a few limitations. The investment tax credit (ITC), also known as the federal solar tax credit, allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of your solar energy installation from your federal tax liabilities. The ITC applies to both residential and commercial systems, and there is no cap on its value.
Let’s say your new solar energy system totals $10,000. You’d have a $3,000 credit to apply against any taxes you owe this year. If you don’t owe that much, the remaining credit rolls over for 5 years, bringing the net cost of your system down to $7,000. Thanks, Uncle Sam.
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