Adding solar panels to your home is one of the few ways to turn something you own into a constant source of something you need. While it’s not always possible to go completely off grid and rely on solar only, you can lower your utility costs over time with the right kit.
The payback time on a solar power system refers to the number of years it takes for the system to pay for itself via utility savings. For example, if your system costs $10,000 and you save $1,000 per year on electricity, your payback time is ten years. If you qualify for a tax break, it pays off faster. Solar panels can be expected to last for 25 years before needing to be replaced, so you’d have 15 years of benefit once the system pays off.
Length of warranty
If solar panels last 25 years, why get a warranty? Because solar panels aren’t the only thing you need. You will also need a charge controller, battery power storage, and an inverter. The power coming off a solar power installation and going into your batteries is direct current.
These are the points on the system where failure can get expensive. If the charge controller fails, the batteries can be damaged. If the inverter fails, you run the risk of running direct current into your home, which is destructive and dangerous to anything that fits in a socket or plugs into a wall.
Realistic price expectations
A solar power system isn’t cheap and the installation won’t be free. Because the panels last so long, you want to buy complete solar system kits from a company that’s going to be around a while. The cheapest system may not be the best choice if you plan to own the house for a long stretch of time. Buy from a reputable company and pay for a quality installation.
Solar panel certifications
Solar panel technology is getting a lot of attention and is expanding quickly. Look for panels that have a rating from the IEC or International Electrotechnical Commission and UL or Underwriters Laboratories. Depending on your panel choice, these two organizations will have different standards for best quality, but you will need these numbers for a quality solar power system kit.
You may be dismayed at the rapidly changing solar options available on the market. If you’re looking for a kit, try to stick with products that have been on the market for a while. The latest and greatest may be a fun investment in sneakers, but you want a system that has a charge controller you can easily replace with something similar if it malfunctions. If you choose to add more panels and want more batteries, you want to easily be able to increase your power storage.
This is where your hardware source becomes so important. If you install a basic solar power system and enjoy it so much that you consider going off-grid, you may be able to easily expand your current system to cover all of your power needs. However, if you buy a kit from an unknown manufacturer, expansion may not be possible because you can’t get the parts.