Renewable energy has become a prime focus for many countries, including the United States. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the amount of solar panel energy in the United States has grown to an estimated 62.5 gigawatts—enough power to power 12-million homes. Cities like Honolulu and Jose are ripe with solar panels, and more cities are beginning to take advantage of solar energy.
Reading this, you may be tempted to get a solar panel for your own home. Don’t let us stop you! Solar panels make a great addition to any home. Though, there are some things you should know about owning a solar panel before pulling the trigger.
5 Tips for New Solar Panel Owners
1. Clean Your Solar Panels Regularly
Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity by using photovoltaic cells. The concept of photovoltaic cells is an interesting but exhausting one, so we’ll hold off and talk about those in a later article. Just know that solar panels use special glass coatings to maintain absorbed energy. As the solar panel’s surface begins accumulating dirt, leaves, dust, and other interfering materials, it will begin absorbing less sunlight; its efficiency will begin dwindling to a noticeable degree.
When you get a solar panel, be sure to perform proper maintenance now and then. You don’t need to make cleaning your solar panel a weekly ritual, but spending one or two days a year cleaning your solar panel will ensure you’re not losing out on any extra energy.
2. Pay Attention to Your Solar Panel’s Security
In 2019, the Wall Street Journal published an article detailing America’s electrical grid’s attempted hack. The suspects were widely believed to be from Russia, and the attack used malware and phishing emails to gather information.
Since then, many have learned that no electrical system is safe from hackers. This includes solar panels. See, solar panels use inverters to help convert the energy from sunlight into electricity used by the house it’s supplying electricity. While necessary, these inverters represent a vulnerability that hackers can use to overload systems, cause instability within the system, and even cause power outages.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to protect your solar panel from outside harm. For one, make it as inaccessible as possible. Please put it on your roof and connect it to an alarm system. And with a strong VPN (Learn more about what is a VPN here) and unique passwords, you’ll deter cybercriminals from messing with your solar panel.
3. Ensure Your Roof is Structurally Sound
When you mount a TV to the wall, you’re most likely doing everything in your power to limit damage to the wall the TV is being installed on. Besides drilling a few holes for the mount, rarely will a wall get damaged if installed properly. The same can be said for solar panels.
Many people fear having their roofs damaged during the installation of a solar panel, but as long as the solar panel is being installed by a professional, damage should remain minimal. That said, make sure your roof is structurally sound enough for a solar panel.
There are certain factors to look out for when installing a solar panel, such as:
- Repairing damaged areas of the roof,
- Accounting for flat or slanted roofs,
- Making sure there’s enough room to accommodate a solar panel.
If needed, work with a professional to see if your roof will hold a solar panel.
4. Install Your Panels for Maximum Sun Coverage
After going through the process of making sure your roof can accommodate a solar panel, it’ll be time to decide where the solar panel will go. Now, when figuring out where the solar panel will go, the one thing you need to keep in mind is how much sun will the solar panel get in a certain position,
This concept is known as “peak sun hours,” a term used to describe a period of time where sunlight radiation equates to 1,000 watts of PV power. According to energysage.com, proper solar panel placement will allow the solar panel to take advantage of at least four peak sun hours, though the amount needed will vary by location.
Think about where the sun is during the hottest parts of the day (for example, from 1 PM to 4 PM. Place your solar panel in relation to where the sun will be during those hours.
5. Check for Available Grants and Subsidies
A major motivator for many solar panel owners has been the available grants and subsidies that reward solar panel owners for embracing renewable energy. These grants and subsidies make solar energy more affordable to the average citizen.
For example, the United States Department of Agriculture offers multiple grants for citizens living in rural areas, totaling up to $20,000. The IRS also offers tax credits for those taking advantage of solar power.
Solar panels are 100% worth their initial investment, though they do require some work on your end. With these tips, you won’t be surprised by any surprise problems later on, whether it’s a hack or a dirty solar panel.