What is solar energy?
A solar energy system creates usable power from sunshine. There are two basic kinds of systems: Photovoltaic or PV uses sunlight to generate electricity. It’s the same technology found on pocket calculators, just on a larger scale. PV systems can be designed to generate the majority of the electricity used in your home, or just a portion of it.
Thermal solar uses sunlight to heat water. Typically this is used for a home’s hot-water supply. A well-designed thermal system can be extremely effective, and provide most of the hot water used in your home. Both let you do your part towards reducing greenhouse gases and improving the environment.
Does solar work only on sunny days?
Solar systems work even when it’s cloudy. Naturally, cloud cover reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the panels, but the system will produce some electricity and/or heat on all but the most overcast days.
How does solar help the environment?
Fossil fuels are a leading cause of global warming and air pollution. Solar energy reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is burned, thus reducing the pollutants and CO² that get into the atmosphere. Solar energy systems that are recommended by Solar Energy World have the added benefits of very high efficiency, durability, and service life – they’re engineered for sustainability. This means fewer replacements and repairs, saving even more energy and precious resources.
How does a solar energy system benefit me personally?
In many ways:
- It reduces your energy bill, and in many areas the utility will buy back any extra electricity you generate.
- Federal, state, and utility financial incentives are also available in many areas.
- It adds to the value of your home.
- You gain energy independence.
- Perhaps most importantly, it’s a good investment in a sustainable future for yourself and your loved ones.
- Learn more about other benefits of solar energy here!
How can solar improve national security?
Currently, the US depends on fossil fuels, especially oil, from potentially unstable or unfriendly countries. These supplies are vulnerable to political upheaval, trade disputes, embargoes, and other disruptions. In 1973 we imported only about 34% of our oil, and yet the 1973 oil embargo was a serious blow to the economy. Today we import over 53%, and are more vulnerable every year. Solar energy can help reduce this dependency, making our economy, our nation, and your family more secure.
How can solar help the economy?
Right now the US has to import oil and natural gas to cover our energy needs. The cost adds up to many billions of dollars, and all of that money leaves the country. But solar energy is generated locally. The energy dollars stay at home, creating economic growth and benefiting your community.
What regular maintenance do I need to do?
With systems that we recommend, very little. PV systems are inherently very low-maintenance, requiring the system owner only to wash the solar modules down with water when they get dirty so light can get through.
How long will my system last?
If properly installed, it should last 30-40 years. Systems that were installed in the 1970’s are still fully operational today. Technology has evolved so the systems from the 1970’s may not be as efficient as today’s technology.
How much does a solar energy system cost?
It is impossible to give a simple answer, since this depends on system capacity, home layout, and other variables. Certainly the cost has gone down dramatically in recent years, and now there are many tax breaks, electricity buy-back programs, and incentives. Please contact us for pricing and more information.
How does electricity buyback work?
This is often called “net metering” and is available from many utility companies. If you generate more electricity than you use, the excess goes back to your utility company, spinning the meter backward and giving you a credit for the electricity your PV system generated.
If the power goes out, will my solar system keep making energy?
No, for safety reasons, your solar system will automatically shut off if the power goes out.
What is a kilowatt hour?
This is what you pay for when you buy energy from the local utility company. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit for measuring energy. It is, as its name suggests, one kilowatt of power used over a period of one hour.