Solar energy systems offer homeowners and businesses a cost-effective and efficient way to collect and convert sunlight into power. And since Sacramento ranks as one of the sunniest cities in the United States, it’s an ideal location for getting the most out of a solar energy investment.
If you live in Sacramento or a surrounding city and are seriously considering switching to solar, below is some information that may be helpful to you in selecting a solar energy system:
How/Where to Buy
Start by identifying a short list of licensed and North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioner (NABCEP)-certified Sacramento area solar installers. Once you contact them, a professional installer will set up a time to meet with you at your home, assess your roof and location, take measurements, and answer any questions that you may have. Or, alternatively, if you’d like to learn more about solar and assess your options in a more educational/informational, non-invasive, and no-pressure environment, stop by the Sunworks Solar Design Center in Rocklin, California.
The Different Types of Residential Solar Panels
The two most common types of solar panels used in residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are:
1) Monocrystalline solar panels – These panels, which cost a bit more than other solar panels, are dark in color, offer a uniform look, and require the least amount of space to install. They also offer the highest efficiency rates (typically 15-20 percent) and tend to perform better than other solar panels.
2) Polycrystalline solar panels – These speckled blue, rectangular panels aren’t quite as efficient (only 13-16 percent) as monocrystalline panels. They’re also slightly less heat tolerant and require more space to install. But they cost less.
That said, even though efficiency is important, the most important factors to most people in selecting a residential solar energy system are cost and space efficiency.
Assessing the Quality
Look for high-quality Sacramento solar panels that come from a reputable brand, are cost-effective, readily available, durable, and offer a lengthy manufacturer’s warranty (at least 25 years or longer). Some good questions to ask are:
- Who manufactured the panels?
- Where were they manufactured? What materials were used?
- How have the panels performed in real-world situations? (e.g., Tolerance, temperature ratings, efficiency, etc.)
- How does the manufacturer’s warranty compare to other solar panel manufacturers’ warranties?
Determining How Many Panels You’ll Need
Solar panels come in a variety of different lengths, widths, and watt ratings (e.g., 100, 180, 200, 220). So, a lot of variables go into correctly sizing a solar energy system for residential use (e.g., energy needs, ground and roof space, financials, etc.). However, most residential installations are 65 inches by 39 inches. To get a general idea of how many solar panels you might need, use the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PV Watts® calculator or the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) solar system estimator. Or, for a more precise estimate, contact Sunworks for a free solar evaluation.
In addition to solar panels, you’ll also need the following items to capture and convert the sun’s energy into electricity:
- A battery – To store electricity for later use.
- A controller – To regulate the flow of electricity/protect the battery.
- An inverter – To convert the stored energy in the battery into voltage so that it can be used by electrical equipment.
The cost of purchasing solar panels depends on the type of solar application, the number of watts, the efficiency rating, the quality of the materials, the manufacturer and brand, the number of available incentives, etc. But in general, most residential solar installations pay for themselves within six to 10 years. However, more important than price is selecting the right type of solar panels for your application, ensuring that you’ll have enough energy to power your system, and that the solar panels will physically fit in whatever space you have.
The average residential installation generally takes between three to five days to complete. The amount of time required largely depends on the complexity of the property and the size of the system.
Some significant benefits of going solar include:
- Saves you money – Switching to solar can dramatically reduce or in some cases even eliminate your monthly electric bill.
- Enables you to gain independence from a utility company. It also shields you from future energy rate increases from a municipality.
- No upfront costs to install the system
- Increases the value of your home.
- You can take advantage of solar rebates and 30 percent federal tax credits
- Deploying and using a solar energy system helps protect the environment.
By using the above as a general guideline when you go out shopping, you’ll have the information that you need to make an informed decision.
Ready to take the next step? Contact Sunworks at (866) 600-6800 to set up a private consultation, or request a free quote.