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 inhabitable. 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 as well. Man since time immemorial have 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, the Romans and the Greek were said, according to history, to use energy from the sun to light touches for the religious celebration. 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 the house. The general idea behind tapping solar power in the early years revolves around the use of mirrors.
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 usefulness to us 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 in other 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
Fifty to even just twenty years ago, the idea of going solar was much more novel and pricey. This is because of the low level of development and wide-spread manufacturing around the use of solar panels. Firstly, the challenge was how to translate from the use of mirrors which is majorly to produce heat and set a fire, 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 do 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 became solved. The use of silicon in making solar panel took effect and began to serve as a source of renewable energy about 15 years ago.
bridge has been crossed and we now know how to tap solar energy to produce
electricity. However, the first few years of this development was faced with
two major challenges which are:
Solar panel efficiency refers to the fragment of sunlight energy that a photovoltaic panel can convert into electricity for consumption. The first generations of solar panels produced were of very little efficiency. The rate of conversion of solar light or photons absorbed to the electricity produced was very low. They were as low as having less than 1% conversions rate. This made the possibility of using solar energy a far cry and looks almost impossible. However, the relentless effort of researchers has brought about a great improvement in the efficiency of the panels. Today we certainly have solar panels that are 30% efficient and more work is still been done to develop more panel efficiency.
Recent development claims to have gotten a 42% efficient solar panel. Before the year 2012, the previous years, 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. Early 2016, NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and CSEM (Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology) achieved a 29.8% efficiency rate. 2017 gave an increase in efficiency to above 40% and 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 manufacturing process and this has made the cost of solar panels much more affordable. Manufacturers also put in some economic indices to minimize the cost of production. Today the concept of renewable energy has become wide-spread, thanks to relentless researchers and economies of scale making the technology accessible to the masses.
We have made
a sample list of frequently asked questions that covers the use of solar for
your home or business.
enough good reasons to go solar?
1. If I
go for solar energy, what are the financial benefits ?
You save a lot of money on your electricity bills and get protected against increasing electricity costs in the future when you install a solar energy system on your property. The amount of savings you will make is dependent on the utility rates and solar policies in your area. Regardless of where you might be living, solar is a smart investment.
are the environmental benefits of solar energy?
Just like other renewable energy resources, solar power has numerous health and environmental benefits. There is a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions when you go solar. Solar is a great contributor to climate change and air pollutants reduction. It also helps to reduce these attached environmental problems that can create health issues.
3. How can I find out how much I pay for
We recommend that you take a look at your utility electricity bill to find out how much you pay for electricity and your monthly electricity use. It is the quickest and easiest method.
is the meaning of net metering?
Net metering is simply explained as a system that allows solar energy system owners to be credited for the electricity produced by their solar panels. When you are on net metering, you are only charged for the electricity that you consume beyond your supplied unused generated energy. Please be informed that net metering policies are not the same in all states.
5. Does solar impact my property values
positively or negatively?
studies have revealed that homes that are installed with solar energy systems
sell incredibly faster than homes without them. Nevertheless, you should note
that leasing a solar energy system doesn’t increase your property value. Your
property value increases only when you own your solar energy system.
solar panels work for my home?
6. How do
solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?
Throughout the day, solar panels absorb the energy in the sun and get it converted into direct current (DC) electricity. Majority of homes and businesses operate on alternating current (AC) electricity. This means that before the energy is converted to usable AC electricity, the DC is made to pass through an inverter. At this junction, you may choose to utilize the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid.
7. Do my
solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?
It is the
availability of sunlight that will determine the amount of power your solar
energy system can generate. This means that when the weather is cloudy, you get
less energy produced by your solar panels and no energy at night. Nevertheless,
even if you reside in a cloudy city, solar is still a good idea because of high
electricity costs and financial incentives
if there is a snow on solar panels?
panels are covered in snow, they can’t
produce electricity because solar panels convert sunshine into power. It is
unlikely for snow to cause structural issues with your panels because it isn’t
heavy enough and it is likely to slide off since most panels are tilted at an
9. Can I
go off grid with solar panels?
still be connected to the grid when you install solar panels on your property.
This permits you to draw from the grid when all the power you need is not
produced by your system. You can go off the grid with a solar energy system
that includes battery storage but we don’t recommend this to homeowners because
it’s not necessary and would cost a whole lot more.
I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?
course, you will still receive a bill from your utility unless you are fully
off the grid and your solar energy system includes battery storage. However, it
is possible to reduce your bill drastically or even reduce your owed amount to
$0 if you procure a solar panel system that matches exactly your energy
solar panels work in a blackout?
In the case
of a blackout and your solar panel system is connected to the grid, it will
shut off. The essence of this is to curb your panels from injuring electricity
utility repair-people and emergency responders. Still, you can make purchase of
some inverters that give you backup power in a blackout.
12. How much will solar panel maintenance
panel system needs little or no maintenance for the 25 to 35 years they will be
generating power because it is made of durable tempered glass. In fact, there
is no need for you to clean your solar panels regularly. If something
eventually goes wrong, there are warranties that cover them. These warranty
terms however depend on the company.
my solar financing options?
solar energy rebates and incentives are available?
Solar rebates and incentives differ based on your area of residence. The most substantial is the 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC), which gives you the freedom of subtracting 30 percent of your solar energy system’s cost from your taxes. There are additional tax credits that are offered by some states.
are my solar financing options?
financing options are available: you may sign a solar lease/power purchase
agreement (PPA), take out a solar loan to buy your system or purchase your
system in cash.
I buy or lease my solar panel system?
for going solar are what would determine if you’re buying or leasing your solar
energy system. If you want to maximize the financial returns of your solar
energy system, we recommend that you purchase your system. If you just want to
reduce your energy bills and help the environment in an easy and
maintenance-free way, you may consider leasing a solar. The choice is yours.
is better – solar loans or solar leases?
loans and solar leases have their pros and cons. The major advantage of the two
is that there is a reduction in your monthly electricity bills and an
is the difference between secured solar loans and unsecured solar loans?
difference between secured and unsecured solar loans is that you require to
promise an asset as a collateral (which is usually your home) for secured solar
loans while you do not require collateral to borrow money on unsecured solar
loans but you will be paying a higher interest rates as compensation for the
increased risk the lender is taking.
do I choose the best solar loan?
To chose the
best solar loan that is best suitable for you, we recommend you to make a
comparison of distinct options from a few different financing providers.
ready for solar?
19. Can I
afford to go solar?
So far you
can afford to pay your electricity bill, yes, you can afford to go solar.
20. Is my
roof suitable for solar panels?
roof for installing solar is southerly facing roofs with little to no shade
with sufficient space to fit a solar panel system.
21. What size solar energy system should I
It is the
weather of the area you live and your monthly electricity use that will
determine the size of your solar energy system. We suggest that you take a look
at your previous electricity bills and make comparisons from licensed solar
installers to ascertain the perfect system size for your needs.
22. Do I need to replace my roof before
It can be
very costly to remove and reinstall solar energy systems if you need to make a
replacement. Solar energy systems can last for 25 to 35 years. Nevertheless, if
there is a need to make repairs on your roof, do them and ensure the completion
before you finish installing your solar.
long will my solar power system last?
are durable and resistant to wind, hail and snow. At different times, you will
need to replace various components of your solar power system but your system
should continue to serve its main function of generating electricity for 25 to
happens if I sell my solar house?
If you have your own solar energy system, you will sell your solar house at a premium because of its solar value. However, the case is different if you lease your system.
How do I
evaluate solar quotes?
do I choose a solar installer?
certain criteria you must consider when choosing a solar installer. Make sure
you confirm that they are insured, licensed, certified and have enough
do I compare solar quotes?
It might be
a bit herculean to compare multiple quotes from different solar installers
because it’s not the same underlying assumptions and metrics that are used by
all solar installers.
are the different types of solar panels?
NextLevelEnergy, we group solar panels into three distinct categories: Economy,
Standard, and Premium. Premium performs best but with higher price tag, Economy
panels are low-priced with low durability.
are the different types of power inverters?
three types of power inverters. They are, microinverters, string/centralized
inverters, and power optimizers.
happens during the solar power installation process?
The first thing you need to do while going solar is to register on NextLevelEnergy where you can receive and make comparison of numerous installation quotes. The actual installation takes a day or two to complete.
I ask for a solar monitoring system for my solar panels?
If you need
detailed information on the amount of energy your solar panel system is
producing, you are at liberty to enquire from your installer about solar
monitoring system options.
31. Do I
need to install solar batteries with my solar power system?
solar homeowners, batteries are not necessary. In as much as you are connected
to the grid, your system doesn’t require a battery.
What is shared solar?
is this different from rooftop solar?
a part of the generated energy from a large solar panel system if you buy into
a community solar project. In contrast to home solar panel system, you don’t
install community solar project on your roof.
should I evaluate my options?
make a decision if you prefer to own your share or find a subscription-based
program. If you decide to go for ownership, this implies that you’ll be making
an up-front investment in order to save money in the future. If you decide to
go for subscription-based programs, you can make savings over a set period of
if I move or have to cancel?
You can keep
your share of the community solar project if you move, provided that your new
home is within the same service area. If you relocate outside the service area,
you are requested to sell your share if they are yours, transfer a subscription
to another account or you may make an early payment of cancellation fee (if you
choose a subscription-based model). Terms for cancellation are different based
on project and provider.
does it save me money?
unavailability to install solar panels on your roof is no longer a problem when
you invest in community solar. You save money and enjoy electricity in your
home or business. You don’t have to buy electricity at standard utility rates
when you’re participating in a community solar project because you’re paying less
for solar electricity.
will it appear on my electric bill?
If you subscribe to a community solar project or you own a share, you will receive virtual net metering credits on your electric bill from your utility.