Greenlife Solar is your partner when it comes to investing in a residential solar system. We’re dedicated to making going solar simple.

We’ve created a database of information to help you get started by answering some of the basic questions that homeowners constantly ask us about home solar. Browse the information below. Then, check out our blogs and guides for more!

How Solar Energy Works

Simply put, solar panels absorb sunlight and turn it into DC electricity. This electrical current then flows through a solar inverter, which converts it to usable AC electricity.

That electricity is then used to power your house. Any excess electricity will flow into the electric grid.

Solar panels create electricity by absorbing sunlight. Therefore, solar panels will produce less energy on cloudy days, and no energy at night.

However, solar panels often produce excess energy on sunny days. This energy is then stored in the electric grid for you to use at times when your home isn’t producing solar energy.

Keep in mind that the efficiency of solar panels will depend on the type you choose and where you live.

Solar panels create electricity by absorbing sunlight. Therefore, solar panels will produce less energy on cloudy days, and no energy at night.

However, solar panels often produce excess energy on sunny days. This energy is then stored in the electric grid for you to use at times when your home isn’t producing solar energy.

Keep in mind that the efficiency of solar panels will depend on the type you choose and where you live.

Residential Solar Panel Costs

Solar power system cost varies based on the state you live in, the type of solar panels you choose, and the size of your system.

In general, solar energy costs have been dropping steadily over the past decade. In 2020, the average cost to install solar panels for a 4kW solar system is $3.72/Watt, or $14,869 before tax credits. The average cost to install solar panels for an 8kW solar system is $3.21/Watt, or $25,709 before tax credits.

After credits are applied, these prices can drop to about $11,003 and $19,024, respectively.

Again, solar power system costs depend on a range of factors. These are simply estimates.

The government has created tax incentives to encourage homeowners to switch to solar.

In terms of federal incentives, the solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a great money-saver. The ITC was first enacted in 2006, but its value has declined since.

The ITC currently covers 26% of the base solar installation amount. This means 26% of total project costs, including equipment, permitting, and installation.

The value of the ITC will reduce to 22% for homeowners that begin construction in 2021 and 0% after that if it isn’t renewed. Now is a great time to take advantage of this solar incentive.

In addition, each state offers different solar panel incentives for homeowners switching to solar.

For more details, check out this database of solar panel incentives by state.

Solar panel maintenance costs are actually very low. Solar panels are made of durable materials that handle exposure to the elements well. Often, these systems will last up to 35 years with little maintenance.

Often, the solar panel manufacturer you choose will offer a range of warranties that will cover solar maintenance for you if an issue occurs.

Generally speaking, you won’t really need to clean your panels, however, if you live in an area with lots of smog or dust, you might want to consider doing so if solar production drops.

In this case, you’ll probably want to hire a professional solar maintenance provider.

Yes. Unless you’re completely off the grid and use battery storage instead, you will still receive a monthly bill from your utility.

Thanks to solar, this bill can be substantially reduced, possibly even to $0 if your home solar system covers your energy usage.

A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) offers the financial benefits of solar without the initial financial burden of purchasing the system.

When you participate in a solar PPA, a solar company owns the panels on your home. You simply pay monthly for the power those panels produce.

Just like owning the panels outright, a power purchase agreement saves you money on your electric bill. The company that owns the panels takes advantage of solar incentives in order to offer you the power at a lower price.

Here’s how a solar PPA works: you’ll pay for the power produced at a set price per kilowatt-hour. This price is determined by the company based on the system’s expected annual output.

You don’t need to worry about filing for tax credits, receiving rebates, keeping up with maintenance, paying upfront costs, or filling out paperwork. You’ll get the same perks as you would if you purchased the panels, but without the added benefits of ownership, like increased home value.

Plus, you keep paying for each year of the power purchase agreement, whereas if you owned the system outright, your costs could’ve been reduced to $0 each month in as little as 8 years.

Both buying and leasing offer their perks. The best way to decide which option is for you is to ask yourself what your priorities are.

If you’re investing in a home solar system in order to take full advantage of every single benefit of solar energy, you’ll probably want to buy the system. If, however, you simply want to enjoy some of the financial benefits of solar energy without any maintenance, paperwork, or tax filing responsibilities, a solar lease might be perfect for you.

Benefits of Solar Panels

Because solar cost isn’t necessarily cheap, homeowners often want to know if solar panels actually save money.

Solar panels help save you money on electricity by generating electricity for you. Ultimately, your utility bill could be $0. Obviously, over time, these savings on your bill will counter the initial solar panel system cost and save you money.

Investing in solar also protects you from rising electricity rates. Over the past decade, electricity rates have risen about 15%, and continue to do so. Once you pay the cost of installing solar, you won’t have to worry about these rates.

Solar power is a renewable energy resource that occurs naturally. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, solar panels won’t contribute to climate change.

Plus, by releasing far fewer air pollutants than other energy sources, they assist in making our air cleaner and healthier to breathe.

The benefits of solar extend beyond the environment to the economy as well. Solar is responsible for over 200,000 jobs in America.

Whether or not solar energy is worth it depends on your specific situation. Compare solar energy advantages and disadvantages before you commit.

Solar energy can be great for your wallet, cutting your electricity each month until your savings cover the initial investment. In addition, solar panels require almost no maintenance, are durable, can last over 3 decades, and produce safer energy than traditional electric current.

Going solar will also help you reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re looking to save money, the environment, and the economy, solar energy might be perfect for you.

Is Solar Right For Me?

Different factors can help determine if solar installation is a good fit for your roof. First, it’s ideal to have a south-facing roof to maximize the amount of sunlight your panels will receive.

Secondly, you’ll want to make sure your roof isn’t too shaded. The areas reserved for solar installation should have access to sunlight for the majority of the day. In addition, this surface should be fairly large and uninterrupted by things like skylights and chimneys.

Lastly, there’s no point in going through with solar installation if you’re going to need to replace your roof in a few years. If your roof is over 15 years old, you might want to consider replacing it before you switch to solar. You’ll want to use roofing that’ll last as long as the system.

Keep in mind that other factors play a role in the efficiency of solar panels, including type and size. You can still save money with solar even if your roof doesn’t check all of the boxes.

You have tons of options when it comes to solar installation. How do you know which solar installation company is the best?

Get solar quotes.

The fastest way to analyze your options is by having someone send you free quotes for top solar companies in your area.

That’s exactly what Greenlife Solar does. We filter out solar installation companies that meet your needs and present free quotes for each so that you can easily compare prices and make an informed decision.

Solar is a great all-around investment. Solar panels tend to increase the value of a home. If you decide to sell your solar-powered house, you’ll sell at a higher property value.

However, if you lease your solar system, you won’t get to enjoy this perk. Instead, your leasing company will most likely just transfer the lease agreement to the new homeowner.

Solar panel installation is a great homeowner investment in the long run, especially if you own the panels outright.

Typically, it’ll take one or two months for a solar company to secure the necessary permits and design your system. They’ll also need to acquire interconnection agreements from your electric utility. This time frame is dependent on your solar permitting office, and could vary.

Once that’s complete, your solar company will need a day or two to actually install your home solar system. After they’re done, the installer will need to get final approval from the municipal permitting office and from the utility, which can take anywhere from 1-3 months.

At the end of the day, the physical solar installation only takes a few days, but the paperwork portion adds months onto the setup process.

Solar panel dimensions vary based on the type you choose and the amount of energy you need to produce.

Typically, each kilowatt of a solar array will take up about 75 square feet. This means that a 3kW array made up of 12 panels will require around 225 square feet of space.

There are a few standard solar panel sizes that companies offer. The layout of your roof and the amount of energy you need to generate will determine the solar panel dimensions you need.

After Installation

There will, most likely, be days when your home produces more energy than you can use. This is largely due to the fact that even while you’re away, your home is producing unused energy.

Depending on where you live, you’ll be compensated for this excess. Net energy metering is a system set in place to remedy this.

Basically, when your home produces excess electricity, it flows into the electric grid. Your electric meter will track this exchange. Whenever your home needs more electricity than it’s producing (perhaps on a cloudy day), you’ll pull electricity from the electric grid.

At the end of the month, your electric bill will be the result of your usage from the grid, minus the excess electricity you produced. Net metering solar allows you to make the most of your solar panel production.

If you’re experiencing any issues with your solar system, simply contact your solar installation company.

Most home solar systems are covered by an extensive warranty. They’re also typically installed with an online monitoring program to track your system’s production.

While that system might help you ensure that your panels are working properly, keep in mind that solar energy fluctuates from day to day depending on a number of factors. Your solar installation company should be able to answer any questions you have.

Most residential solar systems are connected to the electric grid, allowing users to switch seamlessly between solar energy and utility energy. Often, the cost of using utility energy balances out thanks to net metering.

Because of this grid connection, when the power goes out, your panels will stop producing electricity to prevent them from running electricity into the grid and hurting the people working on the system.

If you want to avoid this, you can pair your residential solar system to solar batteries, isolating it from the electric grid and allowing it to continue providing electricity to your home regardless of utility outages.

Choosing The Best Home Solar Panels

You have a variety of options when it comes to choosing solar panels for your home. There are 4 main types of solar panels; polycrystalline solar panels, monocrystalline solar panels, solar shingles, and thin film solar panels.

Polycrystalline solar panels offer less efficiency than monocrystalline solar panels but are cheaper.

Solar shingles are more aesthetically pleasing to some people because they are designed like typical roof shingles. However, they can be pretty pricey.

Thin film solar panels are thin sheets that are rolled out across a roof. They’re slightly less effective than crystalline options, but they’re inexpensive and flexible. In addition, their non-obstructive design is appealing to many homeowners.

Choose solar panels for your home with aesthetics, solar efficiency, and budget in mind.

Read more about the different types of solar panels here.

Just like there are different types of solar panels, there are also different types of solar inverters.

The 3 basic options you can choose from include microinverters, power optimizers, and string inverters.

Microinverters convert AC to DC within each panel. This gives them added efficiency. Power optimizers work in a similar way, but the power undergoes conditioning as it leaves each solar cell.

String inverters are the most common type. Not surprisingly, they are also the cheapest option. These inverters are great for ideal solar setups that get plenty of sunlight and exist on a flat plane.

Some homeowners choose to install home solar systems that include solar batteries. This setup, known as solar-plus-storage, is gaining popularity but is still much more expensive.

The perk of having solar batteries is that if the electric grid goes down, you’ll still have power.

On the other hand, net metering seamlessly stores excess power for you and allows you to pull energy from the grid when needed.

It is up to you whether or not you’d like to have solar batteries.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a solar installation company.

You’ll want to choose a company that is trustworthy, certified, and licensed. You’ll also want to make sure they’re giving you a good deal.

Greenlife Solar offers free quotes from a number of pre-screened solar installation companies in your area to help you choose. We do the research and the work for you in order to make switching to solar more accessible for homeowners everywhere.

Get started today.