Friday, December 10, 2010

Solar Panels: Not Just for the Sunny States!

Today we have a guest blogger! Take it away, Edward Stern!

And thank you much to Elizabeth of hooking Edward up with us...



Solar Panels: Not Just for the Sunny States!

Edward Stern is a guest blogger and a writer.

All the rage amongst eco-friendly architects, solar panels have become more and more popular with the average homeowner over the last decade. These panels sit on the roof of a building, where they collect UV rays from the Sun and transfer this energy for use with appliances, electrical needs, etc. They constitute a sustainable energy source, one that is carbon-free and much healthier for the environment.



One common misconception of solar panels is that you need direct sunlight, and lots of it, to collect enough energy to make the investment worth it. The simple truth: absolutely not. Solar panels are not just for the sunny south, and work almost anywhere in the United States, especially in the typically windy, gloomy cities of the Midwest. Why? Solar energy requires UV rays much more than actual sunlight, and these rays are transmitted and captured even on cloudy days. If you've ever gotten a sunburn while skiing, then you know what I'm talking about.

A lack of sunlight is no reason to ignore the benefits of solar energy. Solar panels are becoming much more cost-effective, and worth a long-term investment due to rapidly upgrading technology. In 1980, it cost $100 per watt to capture energy from the Sun -- literally one hundred times more expensive than the going rate of electricity! However, by 1999, technology had reduced that figure to a mere $4 a watt, and it has been declining steadily since, at an average rate of 5% a year.

Solar energy saves on heating and electricity bills by replacing that energy with that collected by a solar panel. To pay for itself, a solar panel needs to be operational for 10-15 years, while solar hot water panels need 8-12. They are a long-term investment, but for homeowners not looking to switch locations anytime soon, a solid one. Plus, most panels come with a 20-25 year warranty, so you will see a return on your investment long before you'll need to pay for repairs.

Many states, including some in the Midwest, are investing heavily in solar energy and see it as a means to create sustainable, affordable energy. Currently 35 states offer rebates for home and small business owners who invest in panels, thus further defraying the cost. The federal government also provides tax breaks and other monetary benefits for those who invest in solar energy.

Solar energy may be the way of the future, but it is a solid, affordable investment that you can make now. You don't have to live in a sunny state to reap the benefits. UV rays can be harvested even in the gloomiest, snowiest states, and provide just as much of a benefit to the environment -- and to your utility bill.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a question: Is it better to enter the actual numbers your solar generates up onto the GATS website or is it better to use GATS' fixed estmates (they allow estimations for certin systems which do not exceed a certain size).

Dave Conifer said...

I honestly don't know. When I first learned about how the GATS/SRECs work I was shocked that there was any estimation going on at all. Now I seem to have gotten used to it and forgot that there is any other way...

Dave Conifer said...

I would think (and hope) that the estimates and the actual values would eventually converge and it wouldn't make much difference. Just a guess, of course...

Thesolar said...

I am really thankful to the author of this post for making this lovely and informative article live here for us. We really appreciate your effort.Keep up the good work.

Earth4Energy

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen with my own system and talking with other, estimates are slightly more favorable. The down-side to entering actuals is that once you start entering them in GATS, you can not ever go back to estimates. Personally, I'm sticking with estimates because you never know when you'll have a really bad winter and the panels will be snow covered for extended periods of time. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

i have this same question about actual vs estimated. i have been trying to research it online and haven't been able to find anything on the topic at all. we live in nj and have a 10kw system that seems to produce great,and we decided to use the estimated path and i just don't know.
maryann