How Has Solar Technology and Prices Evolved Over Time?

solar panel cost

The energy from the sun in the form of light and heat has so much effect on the earth we live in. The sun is believed to be the earth’s power and without the sun, the earth becomes uninhabitable. Plants use the sunlight for photosynthesis. Many other inhabitants of the earth also draw energy from the sun, not excluding man. The solar system has been in existence before man and as it is known of man to use the surrounding elements to his own advantage, the sun will not be spared. Man, since time immemorial, has found ways, no matter how crude, to tap energy from the sun. This energy is then used for different purposes. History has it that the energy from the sun was tapped by the humans many years ago in other to light fire. The magnifying glass is the instrument used to achieve this feat.

Also according to history, the Romans and the Greek were said to use energy from the sun to light touches for religious celebrations. They used mirrors to tap solar power. The Chinese were documented to use solar power for the same purpose. The concept of the sunroom in houses and buildings, which is still popular today, is an idea powered by tapping energy from the sun. The sunroom in a building uses huge windows to concentrate sunlight to an area in a house. The general idea behind tapping solar power in the early years revolves around the use of mirrors.

Regardless of the reasons solar power is interesting to us and what purpose we try to find in it, it is certain that solar power is useful to us. It is this usefulness that has triggered the desire to make research along this line. Today, solar power has a long list of uses, with a major focus on how it can generate electricity for us. This has drawn us away from the use of mirrors and massive glass to concentrate the power of the sun to the development of solar panels. The general idea behind the solar panel is to collect photons from the sunlight and then transform them into electrons to produce direct current. The direct current will then be inverted or converted into alternate current which is the electricity we use. The materials from which the panels are made are different. However, the general idea is usually the same.

New-age solar panel technology

Fifteen years ago, the idea of going solar was like a dreamer’s idea. This is because of the low level of development around the use of solar panels. First, the challenge was how to go from the use of mirrors to a component that will attract the solar energy and then give it out in the form of electricity. We scaled through that by the discovery of PV effect (Photovoltaic effects) which was of great influence and the first leap toward the development of a solar panel that generates electricity. From there, it was discovered that a material called selenium does generate electricity when it is been exposed to sunlight. This took us to a whole new level and served as the basis for the majority of the solar panels we have today as they are made from silicon. That was how the first challenge was solved. The use of silicon in making solar panels took effect and began to serve as a source of renewable energy about 10 years ago.

The bridge has been crossed and we now know how to tap solar energy to produce electricity. However, the first few years of this development were faced with two major challenges:

  • The efficiency of solar panels
  • The cost of solar panels

The efficiency of solar panels:

Solar panel efficiency refers to the fragment of sunlight energy that a photovoltaic panel can convert into electricity for consumption. The first generation of solar panels produced was not very efficient. The rate of conversion of solar light or photons absorbed to the electricity produced was very low. They had less than 1% conversion rates. This made the possibility of using solar energy unlikely. However, the relentless effort of researchers has brought about a great improvement in the efficiency of the panels. Today we have solar panels that are 30% efficient, and work is still been done to develop more panel efficiency.

Recent development claims to have gotten a 42% efficient solar panel. 1960 to early 2010 recorded a low efficiency of solar panels. It was in 2012 that things took a good turn when efficiency increased to about 17.8%. Late 2015 also gave the good news of 22% efficiency. In early 2016, NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and CSEM (Swiss Center for Electronics and Micro-technology) achieved a 29.8% efficiency rate. 2017 gave an increase in efficiency to above 40%. In 2019 there has been an integration of various mechanisms into the development of solar panels that has given a great increase in the efficiency rate and research still continues. The disadvantage of this great development is that these highly efficient panels are made from expensive materials and these materials are costly.

The cost of solar panels

The first generations of solar panels were not only low in efficiency they were also very expensive. This added to the constraint of making solar power commercial. However, in addition to the increase in efficiency rate, manufacturers have improved their production process and this has reduced the cost of solar panels to a bearable minimum. Solar manufacturers also put in some economic indices to minimize the cost of production. Today the concept of renewable energy has grown commercial levels.

Getting What You Pay For – What To Consider In Evaluating The Quality Of A Solar System Purchase

In order to generate electricity from sunlight, there is a need for solar panels. Solar panels serve as the medium by which sunlight is converted into electricity. Using sunlight as the source of electricity for our homes seemed like an impossible feat before now. However, after years of tireless research channeled toward this cause, came the solar panel. Today, solar panels have become a popular product. Many homes now make use of the system. Solar panels collect the ultraviolet rays of the sun particularly the photons that are present in the sunlight and then convert it into electrons. The electrons produce direct current which is a form of electricity, but not the kind that can light up a building.  They, therefore, need to be inverted with the use of a component called the solar inverter. When this is done, alternating current is produced which is the electricity that you need, the one that powers your home. The whole process begins with the solar panel.

Various brands of solar panels perform differently. This is referred to as solar panel efficiency. Solar panel efficiency is the ability of the panel to convert sunlight into electricity. Not all the sunlight that hits the solar panel will be converted. Some will be wasted, which is typical for all solar panels. However, some panels convert more solar rays than the others. It is imperative that you know the efficiency of the solar panels you are about to purchase.

Factors To Consider When Getting Solar Panels

solar panel factors

You need to know the indices that are to be considered when shopping for solar panels. These factors will determine if you will get value for your money. These factors include solar panel rating, power tolerance, solar cell efficiency, temperature coefficient.

Solar panel rating refers to the amount of power the panel can produce based on an industry standard test. The higher the power rating, the more it becomes effective at producing power or electricity. Every solar panel has a nameplate power rating. It is used to determine how much work or power a panel can generate. It is by nameplate rating that you can make a comparison with other solar panels.

Power tolerance: during the production of the solar panel, some variations take place which affect the total output of the panel. This represents how the power output of a panel can be slightly different from the nameplate rating of the panel. For example, a panel which according to nameplate rating should produce 250 watts could eventually produce about 237.55 watts. This difference is represented in percentages. You need to be on the lookout for panels with a narrow power tolerance because it offers more assurance. You, therefore, need to view the power tolerance alongside the solar panel rating.

Solar cell efficiency: this is the effectiveness of the solar panel to convert solar radiation into electricity. The highest solar panel efficiency rate available today is a little above 22%. Only a few solar panels can boast of this type of rating. High solar panel efficiency means that the panel can generate more electricity than a panel of the same size under the same condition. Size is not necessarily a guarantee that the solar panel will generate more electricity. It won’t if it has a low power efficiency rating, that is, its conversion rate is low. If you purchase such a product, you will spend more to buy multiple panels so as to make up for the quantity of electricity that you need. This is why it is important to consider the rating of a panel before purchasing in order to get adequate value for your money.

Temperature coefficient: it is believed that solar panels are able to withstand the heat of the sun. This is true but only to a certain extent. When the solar panel is subjected to too much sunlight heat at above 77ºF, it decreases the solar panel’s power capacity. For example, when the temperature is about 4ºF, some standard grade panels will produce about 1% less electricity than they normally produce. Panels that have a smaller temperature coefficient will perform better over time. You need to need to check the solar panel temperature coefficient before purchase especially if you reside in a region that experience high daily temperature.

The above listed are the factors that differentiate one panel from the other even if they look the same in size as others. When you find a panel that has the above quality, then you have found a panel that gives you value for your money. However, when you have a variety of such solar panels, which one should you go for? Let’s quickly take a look at some of the criteria for choosing the best among the best.

Solar panel quality: you need to be sure the panel has the certification of the International Standard Organization (ISO). A panel not having ISO certification is not an indication for poor quality, however, a panel with ISO certification is an indication that the panel has passed a certain test and its quality is certified.

Solar panel durability: this is the measure of how well a solar panel can withstand the pressure of the real world such as in snow, high-intensity wind and harsh weather conditions. Check out the reviews on the solar panel to know this.

Manufacturer assurance: this comes with respect to warranty. In case a problem occurs after installation, a strong warranty will cover for it. You need two major types of warranties:

  • Power production warranty: despite the fact that there is usually a decline in power production over the years, the manufacturer should be able to guarantee that the panel will maintain a certain percentage of its power production capacity over a period time of about 25 years which is the estimated lifespan of a typical solar panel.
  • Material warranty: this covers against failure as a result of manufacturing defects and environmental issues. The materials used for the panel need to be able to stand the test of time.

How To Maintain Your Solar Panel System

Do you own a solar energy generating panel? Are you worried about the maintenance and how to make them more durable? This article answers all the questions you might have and much more. The solar panel is actually very durable and does not require much maintenance. It can withstand extreme temperatures and weather changes without a hitch. Most manufacturers give over 20-year warranty on their solar panels that will cover the cost of replacement and sometimes maintenance by the company you purchased it from. Below are all the tips you need to know about solar panel maintenance. 

Take advantage of the manufacturer’s warranty:

In the unlikely event of damage to the solar panel, it is best for you to contact the manufacturer for replacement and repair. Be sure to read through and understand what the manufacturer warranty will cover before installation. Go for the best deal you can get. Solar inverters usually come with a 10-year warranty too.

Installation of your solar panel:

solar panel installation

The solar panel does not have any mountable parts except tracking mounts. Most of the issues that arise from your solar panels are related to electrical production which is why it is important that you track the energy production of your panels. Make sure to note any decrease in energy generation in order to address these issues as soon as they arise. Your panel should be installed at an angle of 15 degrees, and you need not to worry about cleaning the surface in event of snow, dust or rainfall.

In the event that your solar panel requires cleaning due to bird dropping or oil spilling on it, it will be best if you consult the user’s manual to know what kind of cleaning it needs to be done or you can call a local cleaning agency in your neighborhood.

Thinking About Investing In Solar Energy System? Here Are Some Factors to Consider

What is a solar system? We were taught in elementary science that the solar system consists of the sun and the planets that orbit around it. This is, however, not the solar system under discussion here. The solar system being discussed in this write up is the process of harnessing solar energy from the sun. The solar panels or Photovoltaic system are used to convert the electromagnetic radiation from sunlight into electricity for our consumption.

Know More About Using Solar Energy

Solar energy can be used to power household appliances and even cars, all thanks to innovative research and products.

solar energy uses
  1. Solar energy helps you to save money: imagine never having to pay electric bills again simply because you now generate your own electricity. This is a rare opportunity that solar energy affords you. It helps you save a few dollars monthly and reduces the financial burden placed on you.
  2. The solar energy system is not a new invention: The scientists working at Bells laboratory were the first to invent a photovoltaic system. This brilliant piece of the invention has been installed in millions of houses all over the world and in over a million buildings in America.
  3. Solar energy system panels are long-lasting and durable: solar panels are produced from tempered glass. This tempered glass is strong enough to withstand harsh and extreme weather conditions be it rain, wind or even snow. There is an added benefit of it protecting your roof too and helping to prevent leakage.
  4. Solar panel system installation guarantees you a good return on investment: The question at the back of your mind will be, “is solar panel installation a worthy investment?” Yes, it is a worthy investment. The time is right. The demand for solar panels is continuously increasing and the demand for it is high. Invest now when there is a lot of benefits to be accrued.
  5. A solar panel system does not require maintenance: Yes, you read that right. Your solar panels are extremely durable and do not need you to clean them. You do not have to worry about an extra charge of maintenance.
  6. Most locations in the U.S. have enough sunshine to power the solar system: theU.S is blessed with sufficient sunshine all year round to adequately charge solar panels and ensure continuous energy generation. Your current electricity cost should be compared to the cost of solar panel installation to help ease your decision.
  7. A solar panel system, once installed, can generate electricity for over 20 years: most solar panel the manufacturers give over 20-year power generation warranty on their product. You need not worry about the constant cost of changing the panels.
  8. Solar energy does not pollute the environment: Unlike some forms of energy generation, solar energy does not pollute the environment. Solar energy does not emit any gas or substances that can harm our universe as fossil fuel do.
  9. Solar energy is an inexhaustible form of renewable energy: day-in-day-out, all through the year, the sun rises and sets daily providing us with abundant sunshine to generate our energy from. Your solar panels will convert sunlight to electricity without noise or air pollution.
  10. The government is beginning to see the importance of renewable energy such as sunlight: The Australian government is offering financial incentives to the solar panel system installation companies through its Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The residents of Queensland make extra money from the government by selling excess energy generated by their panel to the government.
  11. The solar energy system is always undergoing further research and development: Solar energy system technology is constantly advancing and improvements are being made to make them better in the future. Quantum energy and nanotechnology are concerned with improving energy generation.
  12. Solar energy can be put to diverse use: Solar energy can be put to diverse use. It can be converted to electricity for powering your gadgets, household appliances, and office equipment. It can be used to generate heat energy as well to power for your various needs.

The Selling Price of Sacramento Homes with Solar Panels Increases by 3% to 7%

An analysis done by an online real estate website named Zillow showed the amount that homes with solar systems sold for as against those without solar systems. In the United States alone, it was found out that homes that had solar power had about 4.1% more sales than homes that didn’t. This summed up to over 9,250 of most homes.   

In the result of the analysis, Zillow made sure to include the fact that homes with solar power had varying premiums depending on the state of the market. The metro area in New York city which had homes with solar panels sold for 5.4% more than others. This is a median premium of $24,000. Whereas in Riverside California, homes sold for only 2.7% more. A median premium of $9,930. 

In the article were two California markets and the increases in their sale prices.  

  • San Francisco: 5.4% increase – $41, 650 more 
  • Los Angeles: 3.6% increase – $24,295 

The above information was only based on a single study by Zillow, which wasn’t detailed. A lot of factors affect the price at which home buyers are willing to buy homes with solar panels. They are: 

  • The primary market rate at which homes are sold in a particular community 
  • How good the solar power system of the homes is 
  • The general effectiveness of the solar panels in a particular area 
  • The degree to which solar power is valued in a community 
  • Does the homebuyer see the importance and use of the solar power system while pricing the home? 

A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the amount of energy produced in a home determines the home price premiums rather than the home’s price. How long the system had been in use was also considered. 

Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory did an analysis of 43 pairs of homes sold in 6 states. The states were Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, North Carolina, Florida, and Oregon. After carefully matching the homes together and making comparisons, there was a striking difference between them. While one home had a solar power system, the other didn’t. 

There was found to be a median average sale price increase with homes that had solar panels. This was 2.91%. Homes in California located in the San Diego metro area were found to be selling for a little above average. This was 2.92% 

What To Consider Before Paying For A House With Solar?  

Despite all of the above results, there are things to keep in mind and consider when buying homes.  One of them is the age of the solar power systems varies. While the Solar panels on Californian homes were as old as 11 years, those in Florida were all below the ages of 4 years. The pricing for homes varies depending on how effective and useful the solar power systems are. The ages of solar power systems in Pennsylvania were not up to 2 ½ years. So the price of a home with a 15-year old system should not be the same as that of a 3-year-old system because solar panels depreciate in lifespan and efficiency over time.   

It was further explained in the study that the value of a home should not be the determining factor in anticipating the price of solar power. Homes with lower values might possess a high-quality system while homes with a higher value might have low-quality systems.  Having put this into consideration, it would seem unreasonable to pay more for a house that has a smaller system. 

Lawrence Berkeley clearly stated that: 

“Price per watt is the appropriate metric for valuing solar power systems, not the premium as a percentage of the home sale price, which is an inconsistent metric that widely varies by the PV system sizes and by the prices of homes.” 

In the United States, on average, the price for solar power homes is $3,145 per Kilowatt. While in California, the average is between $4,260 per Kilowatt according to their study. 

Solar Powered Houses In Sacramento  

While Californian homes were studied by the Zillow and Lawrence Berkeley, Sacramento houses were not in their research work and therefore no information was forthcoming from their end. However, in 2011, some economists in the National Bureau of Economic Research went ahead and studied the dynamics of premium price in Sacramento. The number of homes sales that took place in the state between January 2003 and November 2010, about 90,000 were studied all including the homes that were using solar power system at the time. This information was recorded in a paper titled “Understanding the Solar Home Price Premium”.  

While Lawrence Berkeley recorded the amount of energy the solar power systems produced, they did not have that. They only made a comparison between the prices of homes that had solar power systems and those that didn’t. From findings, the homes with solar panels had a higher percentage increase in their selling price than homes that do not have it. it was about a 4% increase.  Further findings made: 

Some streets are termed solar streets; this is because they had solar-powered homes lined up against each other. Such homes sold for 3% more than the usual price.   

Homes which powered by solar energy but not on solar streets sold for about 7% more than the actual price. 

Meanwhile, homes in areas like San Diego which has college graduates as homeowners and the owners had hybrid vehicles, the prices of the homes were more than the average prices. 

Other Factors To Consider 

Although a solar power system would normally affect the price of a home, there are other factors to consider. The value of the solar system of home differs based on the buyer and the seller’s perspectives. While observing some homes in Sacramento, some observations made by Ryan Lundquist. These observations were: 

  • Recouping Investment: When homeowners are about to sell their homes, they often have the intent of getting back the amount they paid for the solar power system. But in most cases, the price at which it was bought doesn’t compare with what the price is now. In most cases, the old ones were usually more expensive.  
  • Age: The older the solar system, the less the effectiveness and its productivity. A newer system would naturally have a longer life span than an older one. 
  • Actual CostIf there had been a reduction during the initial transaction of the home, this would affect the decision of the homeowner when reselling. 
  • Duration of Usage: A home might come with the advantage of having a solar system that would save the buyer the cost of paying power bills for the next years. Such a buyer would, of course, be expected to pay for that service. But peradventure the buyer only intends to stay in the home for a 5-year period? 

There are situations where the owner of a home might give the solar system on a lease. This means that the solar system would be a financial burden on the buyer of the home, meanwhile, the solar system would be considered a feature and included in the cost price of buying the home. The best bet for home sellers would be to pay off their lease before they consider selling the homes.  

These and many more factors should be carefully put into consideration when selling a home. But even in all these, the truth still remains that a home with a solar system is a home with more worth.  

Should You Lease or Loan Your Solar Panels?

Solar panel lending or a PPA agreement basically means you are renting the solar panel from the manufacturer and that the manufacturer still owns the solar panel. On the other hand, if you install your solar panel system on a loan agreement, then it belongs to you. It can be pretty difficult to make the decision whether to loan or lease your solar panels.

Pros and Cons for Solar Renting

This write-up will examine the pros and cons of both methods and provide you with all the information you need to know to help ease your decision.

solar renting pros
  1. The financial implications of a lease or loan agreement: both the lease and loaning of the solar panel help you save money. Both the leasehold agreement and the loan agreement lead to a reduction in your energy expenditures. In both forms of solar panel agreements, you pay less than your usual electricity bills.  The loan agreement, however, saves you more money than the leasehold agreement. This is so because you pay for the panel loan over the course of 7 to 15 years, whereas, you have to continue paying a leasehold agreement all through the term of the agreement. Solar panel owners get a solar investment tax credit (ITC) which is the value of 30% of the cost of solar installation and some states also provide Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). Interest accrued on a solar panel loan can be tax deductible.
  2. Cost of maintenance of the solar panel: solar panels generally do not need much maintenance, but when maintenance is required, a loan agreement means the owner of the solar panel has to pay for such maintenance while the manufacturer pays for maintenance of the leasehold agreement since the solar panel is still a property of the manufacturer.
  3. Does the amount payable increase over time in leasehold or loan agreement? : The answer to this is “yes” for the former and “no” for the latter. The premium paid monthly on a leasehold agreement increases annually based on the initial agreement reached or changes in company policy, while the agreed premium on the loan agreement is fixed during the duration of payment and cannot be increased.
  4. Processing time involved in leasehold or loan agreement: leasehold agreements typically do not take time and can be concluded in just a visit whereas the opposite applies for the loan agreement. The loan agreement usually takes time to be concluded.
  5. Ease of selling buildings with solar system leasehold or loan agreement: for you to sell your home with a solar panel leasehold agreement attached to it, you have to either buy out your leasehold agreement or transfer the new lease to the new owner of the building. In the case of a loan agreement, your options depend on if the loan is secured or not. It is far easier to sell a property with a solar loan agreement than that of leasehold agreement. 
  6. Ease of obtaining a leasehold or loan agreement: All fifty states in the U.S. allow for the loan agreement of solar panels ownership, while some regions and state frown upon the leasehold agreement of solar panel ownership. Washington DC is one of the regions that allow for a leasehold agreement.

    These are the factors you should consider before opting for either leasehold or loan-based agreement.

Is Renting Sun-Based System Always The Best Thing To Do?

In recent years, third-party sun-based renting has become extremely popular, which has played a major role in propelling rooftop sun-based systems into the prevailing current thought. According to the SEIA, at the beginning of 2014, solar renting/PPA financed about 50% to 90% of the rooftop sun based system installations based on the state. It can be said that the U.S. sun-based system industry has changed radically from solar renting.

But is renting sun-based system always the best thing to do? As a smart sun-based system shopper, you should be careful since these financial mechanics are still comparatively new. This point can be further seen in the recent attempts of quite a number of individuals of the national legislative assembly to give a better understanding on how solar renting is promoted to consumers for both the interest of those in the market and also for the solar industry as a whole.

Is solar a beneficial bargain? An example of a solar rent marketing promotion

The advantages of solar rent are mostly marketed this way: You get a sun-based power system on your roof for a small amount of money or even no money at all (based on the type of solar rent), and the organization will sell the electricity to you at a rate which is much lesser than what you normally pay for electricity. You spend less on your electricity bill without having to pay to have your system to be set up. Apparently, both you and the solar organization benefit from this.

Merely looking at it, it seems like a cool bargain, but as discussed earlier, ‘free sun-based power systems’ are not precisely free. You indirectly pay for the power that the panels generate, and in so doing, over the period of your 10 to 20 years contract, you pay for the system.

It’s important for you to consider if signing a solar renting contract will save you money in the long run. Without considering a solar rent marketing promotion, what exactly are you getting when you sign a solar rent contract?

Are some sun-based power system companies not been truthful about solar renting?

An issue of interest about potentially misleading marketing patterns by some solar rent suppliers was raised last month by 12 members of the House Republicans, which was led by Paul Gosar from Arizona. In a letter written to the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, the representatives identified a number of refutable practices that solar shoppers should bear in mind and that the FTC should look into.

Some of these practices are:

It has been made known that some firms are using possibly misleading marketing methods and exaggerating potential savings to get consumers to sign prolonged rents for rooftop sun-based power systems. According to reports, consumers are being lured by some solar renting firms who offer no rent money for a 20-year rent agreement. The marketing presentation, notwithstanding, supposedly amplify power grid rates. If these accusations are true, these potentially deceptive rents could be a grievous threat to consumers as they are bound to our citizens’ homes and have the possibility to induce substantial damage to the solar industry.

In a similar move the previous month, four House Democrats who were all from Arizona (one of America’s major solar markets) asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to look into it whether it is possible for consumers to be harmed by the sales practices.

In the November 19 letter, they emphasized their support for the flourishing rooftop sun-based power industry. They also stated the need to address a number of issues to ensure consumers considering solar are not deceived by solar salespeople who deliberately omit essential information or skip over the disadvantages of solar rent.

They asked the CFPB questions like:

What actions has the CFPB taken to look into the possibility that deceptive marketing methods are being used in the rooftop solar industry?

What measures are put in place to guarantee that consumers who are looking at entering into solar renting for a prolonged period are made fully informed of the long-term implications of these proceedings? For instance, studies suggest that third-party rents may lead to an escalation of prices to house sellers with the outcome that other buyers will not want to purchase the sun-based power system or cannot assume the rent, therefore making real estate transactions complex.

What actions has the CFPB carried out to look into the displeasure that has developed from the marketing methods being used by some rooftop solar renting companies?

Has the CFPB thought of doing an employee reappraisal of third-party-rents in the rooftop sun-based power industry and giving advice on how consumers considering these transactions can be educated?

The CFPB is yet to release anything a response to the Democrats’ letter as at the time of this writing, and the FTC addresses nothing in particular to third-party solar rents on its website. It’s definitely just a matter of time before all these changes are made. Even though politics has a role in the ongoing discussion, the fact remains that there is a need for robust competition and transparency in the market for an industry to be a workable, sustainable one. If the CFPB and FTC intervene to regulate the sales practices of solar rent suppliers, it will definitely result in amelioration on both these fronts for the absolute benefit of both the consumers and the solar industry.

Can we safely conclude that solar renting is not a good idea?

No! It only requires that you do your own research to ascertain that you are getting the best available bargain on solar. You should also bear it in mind that deals differ and some deals are more beneficial than others. You need to be wise when shopping for solar. Below are some helpful points to help you choose wisely when shopping:

solar renting
  • Assume your rooftop is an asset that solar renting firms want to possess. The amount of money these firms make is dependent on the amount of power your panels produce.
  • Think of a solar rent just like any other major purchase: Be proactive; do not just consider the fact that you may not pay anything up-front.
  • Try to get the best deal by comparing varieties of options from different companies. There are a number of competing companies that offer solar renting bargains; use this for your advantage.
  • As an alternative to solar renting, consider a solar loan. Solar loans offer almost the same advantages as solar renting with the additional benefit of you owning the system when the loan is paid off.
  • If you have enough money, then you should consider buying a solar system. For those who can afford it, it’s often always better to go for the up-front buying of the solar system.

Mono Vs. Poly Solar Explained

solar panel types

The sun has always had the potential to be of solar benefit to mankind.  Ever since humans knew that the sun has energy in it that can be used to our benefits, we have been looking into ways by which this can be achieved. It began in the 17th century when the Greeks and Romans used mirrors to tap energy from the sun in other to light fire. The Chinese were said to participate in this feat as well. Monks were said to design mirror plates for cooking purposes. These mirror plates, facing the sun concentrated the power of the sun toward the cooking utensils. This will produce a certain amount of heat needed to cook. This technology was also used according to history to heat up an oven. This heat was hot enough to melt metals. An innovation that was used for ages and is still been used today is the concept of the sunroom. This is usually a room in the building were huge mirrors windows were positioned to concentrate the sun heat to the room. All of these concepts and methods of tapping solar energy show to us that solar energy can be used for multiple purposes. This spurred the continuous research work along that line.

Types of solar panels:

Many years later, it was discovered that the sun could actually provide us with electricity. This is as a result of the discovery of the Photovoltaic effect (PV effect) which is the production of electricity by placing two metal electrodes in a conducting solution. The idea was then used in the development of selenium. Selenium is the first element used in the production of solar panels. This is because selenium produces electricity when exposed to sunlight. This idea was then used to produce the very first set of solar cells produced from selenium wafers. Today, solar panels are produced out of silicon because it is a very durable element and it is in abundance. The general idea is the same as when selenium was used. Using silicon, the solar panel production endeavor has evolved in so many ways.

We now have the solar panels in two major types which are:

  • Monocrystalline solar panels (mono) and
  • Polycrystalline solar panels (poly)

Solar panels are a modern-day invention which, away from the use of mirrors, is the medium of converting solar energy into electricity. Both the mono and poly solar panels perform the same purpose. They take the sunlight energy and convert a portion of it into electricity. Many solar manufacturers of solar panels produce two types. The difference between the two lies in the way by which the silicon in them is arranged. In the mono panels, the silicon is arranged in bars while in the poly panels, the silicon is melted and arranged into fragments. Both can be a good choice for your home or commercial building. However, there are certain features that differentiate the two types of technology and these can serve as an instrument in making your decision. You, therefore, need to understand these differences before you make your final decision.

Difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels:

The mono panel is usually thought to be the premium solar product. They have higher efficiency and more sleek aesthetics.  They are more efficient than poly solar panels. Though they can be expensive, however, their rate of efficiency covers up for this deficiency. They look black in color. They have the general characteristic of a long lifespan of about 25 years and above.

The poly panels, on the other hand, generally have a lower efficiency than the mono panels. This means that the rate of conversion of sunlight to electricity is low compared to mono panels. They, however, are sold for less. The lifespan for a mono panel stands at 25 years and above. The blue hue is the signature color for poly panels.

Comparing Mono-crystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels:

The question of which of the two are best and which should be chosen remains open. This is because of certain factors that are consequential to choosing any of the two major solar panel designs. Your choice of any of the two should be based on a personal decision, the quantity of space available, and the financing options available to you.

  • Personal choice: two things can influence your personal choice. One is the color of the panel. Since both panels appear differently on the rooftop. Mono panels appear looking black on the roof while poly panels appear looking blue in color. Whichever one you prefer will influence your choice. Secondly, the place where the panel is manufactured matters more for some people. Some prefer panels that are locally made for reasons best known to them.
  • Space available: panels with high-efficiency rate will cover a lesser quantity of space. This is because a single panel is not enough to power your building; you will need to combine panels in multiples. The quantity of electricity you need to power your building will determine the number of panels you need to combine. Using a panel with high-efficiency rate means you will need a fewer numbers of panels to reach electricity generation goals. You will need more panels that have a lower-efficiency rate. The number of panels you need to combine will translate to the quantity of space you need. If you have limited space then you might want to consider using panels with a high-efficiency rating.
  • Financing options: the cost of installing a solar system can be expensive. This is because of the cost of solar panels. And, you have to purchase them in multiple numbers depending on what you need. If you have enough financial capacity or financial support, you might want to go for the mono panel which is more expensive. Otherwise, you will have to go to the poly panels. But remember, poly panels are less efficient which means, given the same condition, you need to combine them in more numbers than mono panels in other to make up the lack in efficiency.

It is recommended that you explore your options with both the mono and poly panels in other to make the most appropriate decision.

Which is Advisable, Buying or Renting Your Solar Panels?

Your specific financial objectives determine your choice on how to finance your sun-based power system.

The primary difference between purchasing and renting a sun-based PV system is in possession. Purchasing a sun-based power system (either by paying directly with cash or paying off a solar system loan) gives you full ownership of the system. The sun based power system is owned by a third party if you rent the system or consent to a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement).

This difference affects your sun-based power system’s investment, maintenance cost, terms, savings and degree of profitability. Moreover, not all organizations offer solar renting as well as PPA so do well to ensure that your selected supplier offers the financial option which you desire. Note that PPAs are not lawfully allowed in many zones.

It is best for you to acquire a sun-based power system with money or financing a solar loan purchase if you….
  • Need to maximize the budgetary advantage of introducing a sun-based power system, instead of taking advantage of the ecological  benefits of the system alone;
  • Are qualified through bureaucratic venture charge credit to decrease your government and state charge risk;
  • Are business and you can take advantage of tax cuts by regarding the sun-based power system as a depreciable resource;
  • Need to expand your home’s market estimation by introducing a sun-based power system.
Your best solar alternative is to rent or PPA when you…
  • Are basically interested in taking advantage of the ecological benefits of the system as opposed to maximizing the budgetary advantage of introducing a sun-based power system;
  • Need to stay away from the obligations of upkeep or fixes for sun based power system;
  • Are not qualified by investing in a sun-based power system to decrease your government and state charge risk;
  • Cannot wait till the next year for the budgetary advantage of tax credit.
Carefully analyze: Purchasing VS renting solar

There are a lot of distinctions in the cost, upkeep, terms, financial offset opportunities, and investment savings/returns which all depends on your choice of financing.

Cost of solar installation

Solar rent/PPA
  • A sun-based power system can be gotten for little money or even nothing.
  • Only the third party owner of the system can receive incentives, refunds, and tax credits so you won’t eligible for all those.
solar installation cost
Solar loan/purchase with money
  • Before refunds and incentives, the sun-based power system can cost between $15,000 and $30,000.
  • You can get up to a 50% reduction in the total cost of cash purchase. Majority of the solar installers will deal with the administrative work and modify the price tag to reflect the total cost.

Solar Maintenance

Solar loan/purchase with money
  • You are responsible for the upkeep of the system because the system belongs to you. Solar equipment lasts for a long time and often comes with warranties so there is less upkeep for you to do.
  • Your purchase might not include an application to track your system’s framework execution.
Solar rent/PPA
  • The obligations of upkeep are solely by the solar company because they own the system.
  • Most of the time, you get an application that tracks your system’s framework execution.


Solar loan
  • Loans are commonly accessible for terms of 10 to 20 years at an interest rate of 3% to 8% provided you have a 640 or higher FICO rating.
Solar rent/PPA
  • Solar rent/PPA is commonly for a period of 20 to 25 years after which you can decide to renew the agreement or buy the system directly.

Investment savings/returns

Solar loan/purchase with money
  • Based on your property as well as the incentives in your zone, you can spare up to 40% to 70% on power cost throughout the lifetime of your sun-based power system.
  • You get free electricity throughout the lifetime of your sun-based power system (which usually ranges from 25 to 30 years).
Solar rent/PPA
  • Based on your property as well as the incentives in your zone, you can spare up to 10% to 30% on power cost.

Before making your decisions on whether to purchase or rent your sun based power system, thoroughly analyze your financing options. Make sure you explore all the available financing options before making your decisions. All scenarios are not the same so there a quite a number of factors to consider to determine what is best for you.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of DIY Solar in 2019

Solar has become a vogue thing in 2019 and a lot of daring homeowners are starting to think about “do it yourself solar installation”- the idea of building a PV system by yourself. Obviously, there is a lot involved in a solar installation and there is a correct and incorrect model of do-it-yourself solar projects. 

Here are a few DIY Solar installations (see photos) that went very badly in the end. 






Going solar has lots of monetary advantages: it decreases the cost of electricity and increases the quality of your home. Financial benefits like federal tax credits for solar can decrease the total cost by 30 percent or even more. Although solar is a great investment, the combined, upfront price label can cause sticker shock to some. To save money most house owners are weighing the DIY options versus financing a system and getting a professional installer to handle the work. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of DIY solar below, which one should consider before making a decision on a DIY solar project. 

Step by step process of DIY solar panels

  1. Design and size your system based on energy needs 
  2. Purchase your solar equipment (solar panels, inverters, racking) 
  3. Provide your city/county planning department a plan set with code-abiding solar schematics and application for solar permit 
  4. Install the racking or mounts for the panels 
  5. Connect the solar panels to your racking equipment 
  6. Install a solar inverter 
  7. Notify the local utility and AHJ of completion and request for PTO (Permission to Turn-On – i.e. “connect” to grid) 

Do it yourself solar panel installation could be less costly, although your choices are sometimes limited. 

According to information from the solar marketplace, the average total cost for a DIY solar system for homeowners (the amount before financial benefits and rebates are applied) is about $18,300. Of this amount, the design, installation, and cost of labor brings it about ten to fifteen percent of the entire bill. So, you can potentially save up to half of the amount that a  professionally installed solar PV system will cost.  

Even at that, it is still very enticing to use a professional who can provide a worry-free installation, labor warranty/guarantee and affordable financing which is less than using a credit card or home equity line of credit for the investment. The money saved on upfront materials and installation will be free for other things. 

Your solar energy should be able to generate electric current for 25-35 years, so it is important that you think about both the upfront cost and the monetary benefit for all of your solar options. If you purchase solar kits like the ones available online or at an Electrical supply store, it can be cheaper but you won’t generally have the choices and warranty convenience that solar installers are ready to provide. Most at times, solar installers purchase their equipment from distributors that don’t sell retail and they can obtain prices only available when purchased in large quantity. 

Around the nation, the solar price is dropping. 

Advantage: Create your own solar works for small off-grid projects. 

Virtually all home solar kits are created for an off-grid purpose, which means that you cannot make use of it connected to your utility. For the average homeowner, going off-grid is not to your advantage. Having the ability to connect to utility-generated electric source is important because if your solar energy system does not create sufficient electricity to be able to meet your demands (at night and in winter) throughout the year, you’ll want to supplement with some grid-provided electricity. 

Home solar equipment can be a good idea if the goal is not to power the whole house. RVs, boats, and the ever-popular tiny houses are all great items for trying the do it yourself solar, that is because these are generally off-grid and mobile already. 

On a similar topic, DIY solar projects can be of great help if you own a large property and desire to power an outside area such as a barn, or toolshed or want to easily install outside lights. In such instance the power demand will be quite low, so buying a little home solar kit and installing it yourself is achievable. 

Disadvantage: installing solar is difficult, homemade solar energy requires education and experience. 

When you want to go the DIY route with your solar panels, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. A home solar kit can be cheaper, but solar installers give much more value and peace of mind for a relatively small additional price. Whenever it comes to installing a valuable electric system on your property, looking for someone who knows what he is doing can help you conserve time, money and aggravation in the long run.  

A professional solar installer can get the job done faster and safer because they have the experience that online research cannot beat or DIY guides can copy. All States demands that all installers be qualified and licensed to install solar and independent certification such as North American Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP’s), Solar PV installation Professional Certification makes sure that the company you decide to work will have a great knowledge of the entire process. 

Your solar installer will aid you to finish and file the permits and applications that you require to submit in order to get your solar energy system up and working. This is really important because your utility will not let you connect your system to grid without signoff from a certified utility/electrical inspector. 

Also, because of the experience of the solar installer, they should be able to help you concerning the financial incentive because they will have a better knowledge of the solar incentive in your jurisdiction. They can even help you to find an incentive that you might have missed. Finally, it is very important that you know that most product manaufacturers will only honor their warranty when a certified installer install the equipment. And virtually all installers can offer a warranty on their own labor too. 

Other great ways to conserve money on your solar installation 

Of course, when trying to make such a great decision for your house, you can discover the solar choice that has a better financial advantage for you. DIY solar energy is not the only way to conserve money when trying to go solar. 

“Next Level Energy is accustomed to fixing other’s mistakes. Call us (530-316-1421) if you need help with your on or off-grid system, or don’t want to go it alone when putting together a system. We are Strike-Check approved. We can diagnose and trouble-shoot some failing or failed systems. By the way, it’s always a GREAT idea to make sure your system and home are fully insured, regardless of who installed/installs your system.”