According to the Pew Research Center, 34% more residential homeowners installed solar panels in 2021 compared to 2020. This year is also shaping up to be one of growth with the new federal solar tax credit in play.
If you have heard about the money-saving and eco-conscious benefits of solar power systems, you may be interested in investing in one for your home. And that is why we are bringing you this guide.
Today, we want to answer all of your top questions about solar panels for the home. We will explain how solar panels work, whether your home is a candidate for a solar system and more.
Are you considering going solar in 2022? Check out this guide first to help you understand what to expect (and not to expect) before installing a home solar system.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Solar panels collect sunlight. Like all sources of light, sunlight contains energy in the form of photons. And solar panels can convert these photons into sources of energy that we can use to power our homes.
But not all solar panels work the same. Keep reading to learn about the two different types of solar power technologies out there today.
Types of Solar Panels
There are two different types of solar panels: photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and concentrating solar power (CSP) solar panels.
PV panels are for residential use. This is the type of solar panel you might see on the roof of someone’s home.
CSP panels are for non-residential use. This type of solar panel is common in large solar power plants.
In addition to having different uses, the two types of solar panels utilize distinct technologies.
PV technology collects light energy from the sun. The solar panel then uses that energy to produce an electric field, which can then power your home.
CSP technology is similar, but it requires the addition of mirrors to function properly. The mirrors reflect sunlight, concentrate it, and produce heat. The panels then capture both light and heat energy and convert them to electricity.
What Types of Homes Can Have Solar Panels?
No matter where you live, you can get a solar power system for your home. That is because solar panel manufacturers design their products to stand up to all kinds of climates.
Some homeowners are not good candidates for rooftop solar panel systems, though. This includes people who do not own their homes and individuals with excessively old, small, or shaded roofs.
Shaded roofs that sit beneath large trees may not be best for a solar panel system. Roofs with a 15°40° slope that are south-facing are ideal for solar panels.
Your roof must be large enough for at least 16 to 20 solar panels to pay your electric bills. That means you must have 280351 square feet of roof space to install a full system.
Old roofs can accommodate solar panels but at an extra cost. You will have to remove the panels if you have an old roof and plan to get it replaced. And this will cost more than replacing the roof alone.
However, just because you can not have rooftop solar panels does not mean you can not power your home with solar energy. Solar energy companies like Chariot allow people to purchase solar energy straight from the source.
If you live in an apartment, townhouse, or rental, you may think you can not go for renewable energy. But with solar energy plans like the Rise and GridEdge plans from Chariot, now you can!
What Is the Process of Going Solar?
The first step to going solar is figuring out what kind of plan you can get. As we just discussed, you can either install a solar panel system on your roof or pay for renewable energy from a solar energy company like Chariot.
In the latter case, all you have to do is sign up for one of our renewable energy plans. We will acquire energy from our Texas solar farms. And we will use that eco-friendly energy to power your home, apartment, or townhome.
If you want to install solar panels on your roof, the process gets a bit more complicated. As we mentioned earlier, you must first determine that your roof is suited for solar panels. Check out resources to help you do just that here.
Once you determine that your roof is suitable for solar panels, you can buy or finance your system. Some companies will install your solar panels for you, while others require you to hire a separate installment company.
A quick but important note: Chariot Energy does not sell or install solar panels. What we do provide is some of the most competitive rates on solar energy in the Lone Star State.
How Much Power Do Home Solar Panels Generate?
The majority of US residential homeowners who have or have considered installing solar panels overwhelmingly say their decision is based on saving money.
92% of these people agree that energy cost savings are the most important reason for installing solar panels. But exactly how much power do residential solar panels generate? And how much can they save you on energy?
The average Austin, Texas, homeowner can power his or her house for the whole year with a combined solar panel system of 7.15 kW. The system must use direct-current technology and have each panel needs a 311 kW range.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) also has a tool to help you calculate how much power your home’s solar panels could generate. This tool is known as the PVWatts Calculator.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
According to Pew, the average solar cost range for residential homeowners is $16,870 to $23,170. Note that this price includes the federal tax credit deduction (more on this later).
The exact price depends on whether you have access to state tax incentives and the type of solar panel you want to get installed. Also, solar panels are more expensive in some states than others.
For example, Arizona is the least expensive state for solar panels. The per-Watt cost of a solar panel is only $2.33. Washington, D.C. and Indiana have the highest per-Watt costs at $3.41 and $3.25, respectively.
But what about Texas? The Lone Star State ranks seventh for the lowest cost of solar energy per watt at $2.64. That means the average 6 kW system would cost $15,840 in Texas, and the average 10 kW system would cost $26,400.
Can You Get Financing for Solar Panels?
As you can see, solar panel systems are a pretty significant investment. So, you may be wondering: what are the different payment options for solar panels and solar panel installation?
Of course, you can pay for your solar panels in cash if you have the money. But a more common option is to get financing. Many solar panel providers offer loans and financing programs to help make solar energy more affordable.
You could also consider leasing a solar panel system. In this model, you host a solar panel system on your roof that the solar energy company pays for. You pay for the energy you use at a lower rate than non-renewable energy.
Are There Any Incentives for Going Solar?
Solar energy is great for the environment. And with the federal government’s push toward more sustainable forms of energy production, it should be no wonder that there are incentives in place for people who want to go solar.
We will discuss a few of these tax incentives below.
The New Solar Tax Credit
The Biden Administration recently increased the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Under the Trump Administration, the credit was only 26% of the cost of the solar panel system.
The new ITC has increased that credit. Now, you can get 30% of the cost of the system credited back to you during tax season.
State Tax Credits
Some states offer additional tax credits for residential solar panel use. Unfortunately, Texas is not one of them.
In states that do offer state tax credits, the incentive works the same as the federal ITC. You can write off a percentage of the cost of your solar panel system when you file your taxes.
Cities and energy companies are also known to offer financial incentives for going solar.
In Texas, for instance, the city of San Marcos offers a $1 rebate per Watt of solar panels installed. San Marcos residents with solar energy systems can earn up to $2,500 in rebates.
The Texas cities of Sunset Valley and Plano have similar solar energy rebate programs.
Net metering is another solar power incentive offered to homeowners across the US. This incentive is also present in many cities across Texas, though the state government does not mandate it as other states do.
The concept of net metering is that you can earn energy credits for the excess solar power your panels produce. You can either sell your extra energy back to a power company. Or you can apply those credits to future energy bills.
For a full list of cities and power companies that participate in net metering, check out this article from EcoWatch.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Panels for a Home?
If you have made it this far, you are probably deadset on getting solar panels for your home. But if you still need convincing, here are the top three benefits of solar energy that you just can not ignore.
Cost Saving Benefits
Solar energy is cheaper than traditional sources of electricity. That means you can save a ton of money each year by switching to solar.
The exact amount of monthly savings you will see depend on where you live. Some states and cities offer more savings than others.
For example, solar panel owners in San Diego, California, could save over $95,000 in a 25-year period by switching to solar power.
Texas homeowners will see more modest savings. Houston solar power users could save nearly $40,000 on energy in a 25-year period, while homeowners in Austin could see over $32,000 worth of 25-year energy bill savings.
In Houston, that equates to savings of about $64.75 per month on energy or $777 per year.
Traditional energy production comes with some pretty nasty side effects. This includes carbon emissions and the emission of other pollutants and toxins into the air and waterways.
By using renewable energy sources, we can help make our world a cleaner, healthier place to live.
Energy Security Benefits
Texas has an independent power grid, meaning it is not connected to the main power grid used by the rest of the US. While that means the state is not subject to federal power regulation, it also means outages.
Over the last few years, power outages have ravaged the Lone Star State. People have gone days and weeks without energy. And some Texans have died due to power grid outages.
But when you get your energy from sunlight, your house will stay powered as long as the sun still shines. Even when your neighbors lose power, you will be safe and comfortable because you use renewable solar energy.
Do You Need Solar Panels to Use Renewable Energy?
Solar panels are a great option for people who want to save money on energy and help protect the environment from energy pollution. We hope this guide has helped you understand the ins and outs of going solar in Texas.
Are you searching for a way to use renewable energy without needing solar panels? At Chariot Energy, we provide renewable energy plans to ALL Texans, whether you have solar panels or not.
Find a renewable energy plan for your home with Chariot Energy today!