Pros and Cons of Solar Energy to Consider in 2022
As a solar-powered electricity provider, Chariot Energy often hears all sorts of claims and questions about solar energy:
- “Solar energy is great for the environment!”
- “…wait, now people are saying solar energy is bad for the environment?”
- “Well, the news told me you don’t actually save money with solar energy…”
- “…or do you?”
- “Ah, what you’re actually saving is the planet… right?”
With this article, we want to settle this squabble and finally clear the air about solar energy. Yes, there are many advantages to solar power, such as its ability to lower your carbon footprint and lessen the strain on the electrical grid. But, admittedly, solar also has its limitations, such as the inability to generate electricity at night and the difficulty of relocating solar panels once they’re installed.
Let’s explain the principal pros and cons of this clean energy resource. We can help you decipher whether it’s worth the investment or simply educate you about this awesome power source!
The Top 11 Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
The Top 6 Advantages of Solar Energy
Solar Energy Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Whether you know it or not, generating electricity produces a lot of carbon emissions. In the United States, electricity generation from fossil fuels accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. 1 Known as “brown power,” this coal- and natural gas-powered electricity enters the grid to provide your home with electricity.
Solar energy systems carve out a giant slice of the greenhouse gas emissions pie and replace it with clean energy. Photovoltaic technologies (solar panels) like we use at Chariot and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants both produce this clean energy, making them the two most environmentally friendly energy sources we have today. Thus, when you power your home with solar energy, you’re reducing your entire household’s carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.
At the end of 2020, the U.S. had 97.7 GWdc of solar generation capacity online, having installed more than 19 gigawatts (GWdc) just in the past year. That’s enough to power nearly 18 million American homes. 2 In terms of emissions, the number of carbon emissions the U.S. solar energy reduces is equal to the amount of carbon stored in 2 billion trees. 3
Solar Energy Can Save You Money
While the cost of solar panel systems are declining, installing solar panels is still a significant investment. However, because solar energy is essentially free, the system will pay for itself and save you money on your electricity bill for literal decades! This savings is in the form of a significantly lower or no electricity bill at all.
In approximately 8 years after installation, your solar panel system will have completely paid for itself by providing free electricity to your home. 4 After that, you’ll begin to earn money by simply doing nothing other than having solar panels. And these solar cells often last decades — around 25 to 30 years, on average. 5
There are also leasing options available for those who want to try solar panels out but do not want to buy just yet.
Solar Investment Tax Credits (ITC) are Available for Solar Energy Installations
In 2006, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act, which created the Solar Investment Tax Credit. Known as the ITC, this very subsidy gave rise to the massive solar industry you see today. Since the ITC was passed, the U.S. solar industry has grown by more than 10,000%, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created, and billions of dollars have been injected into the economy. 6 All because of a tax rebate!
In 2019, the tax credit was 30%, and like wind credits, the government has plans to wind the tax credit down. However, it has been extended by two years since 2019 for residential customers. Today, the ITC is 26% off the taxes of any solar installation, from a small-scale rooftop array to a large-scale utility solar farm that powers thousands of homes. By 2024, ITC credit will only be available for utility-scale solar projects.
There’s no need to worry right now. You can still take advantage of this money-saving opportunity by investing in a home solar system that will pay for itself in a few years — or take advantage of the credits right now and switch to a solar electricity plan.
Solar Energy Can Generate Electricity in Any Climate
Despite hearsay, one of the great benefits of solar panels is they work anywhere and in any climate on Earth. Whether it’s rain, snow, light hail, sleet or even a hurricane, solar panels still generate electricity if even a slight amount of sunlight hits the panel.
In fact, snow is actually beneficial to solar panel efficiency. While heavy snowfall can present a weight problem for solar panels, light to moderate snow has actually proven to slide the dirt, grime and debris off of the panels as it melts. Plus, solar panels are more efficient in cold weather, meaning that they are able to generate more electricity with greater effectiveness than solar arrays in hotter areas
Solar Energy Lessens the Strain on the Electric Grid
The power grid is really complex, but underpinning the entire system is the simple economic principle of supply and demand. Supply must always meet the demand, but there are times when demand is greater than the amount of electricity the grid has to give. If demand overtakes supply, long-term damage and widespread blackouts can occur.
That’s why solar energy is so important to diversifying the energy grid. If any one energy source fails, as was seen in the February 2021 Texas energy crisis, having a wide variety of energy sources is one answer to preventing power failures like we saw.
The U.S. has enough solar capacity to power 17.1 million homes, 7 approximately 2.3% of the total U.S. share of utility-scale electricity. 8 We clearly still have a long way to go. However, over the coming years, it’s only going to get bigger. The U.S. Environmental Investigation Agency reported that solar rose by 16.1 GW in 2021 and an estimated 5.8 GW in 2022. 9
Get Paid by Selling Excess Solar Energy to the Grid
Solar power generators like Chariot help lessen the strain on the energy grid by adding electricity when it’s needed most to prevent blackouts. What you may not know is that residents with solar panels can also help the grid — and get compensated for it!
Depending on the state you live in, you have the option of net metering. When your home is “net metered,” you can be compensated by your utility company if your solar panels produce more electricity than your home needed at that time. Chariot, for example, buys the excess energy from our customers’ solar panels. Our customers get paid in the form of bill credits.
The Top 5 Disadvantages of Solar Energy
While we believe solar energy has the power to transform our world, we realize it’s not perfect. We want to discuss a few of the important cons to consider.
Solar Panel Installations Can Be Expensive
As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, investing in home solar panels is a bit like buying a car. Rooftop solar panels are a sizable investment. But, if you do your research, test drive a few, and make a Smart and informed decision, your investment will provide great returns for many years.
However, for some, the end result might not be worth the investment of time and money, which is totally understandable. Even with the reduced 26% investment tax credit (ITC) credit, the average price a solar installer charged 20,000 10 for a 10 kWh system in 2021.
This is why we offer solar electricity plans for people who still want to benefit from going solar but can’t afford the initial cost of installing panels.
Solar Energy Doesn’t Work at Night
“Thanks, Captain Obvious!” But seriously, you have to consider the reality that your rooftop solar panels won’t create electricity at night. Yes, a tiny fraction of sunlight is reflected off of the moon and absorbed into the solar panels, but it’s essentially pitch black at night. And when there’s no light, solar panels don’t produce electricity.
This becomes especially relevant if you want to be completely “off the grid” and have your home 100% powered by solar panels. If you aren’t tied to the electric grid, you need energy storage devices (the most common being a lithium-ion battery) to house the energy your solar panels produced earlier in the day so you have power at night. Otherwise, you’ll be lighting oil lamps to illuminate your home.
Solar Energy Storage is Expensive
Here’s the hard reality: Energy storage devices for rooftop solar panels cost thousands and thousands of dollars. Perhaps the most advanced product on the market today, Tesla’s Powerwall costs around 7,200 as of April 2021 for one solar battery — and how many you need depends on your current electricity bills Additionally, Tesla only sells the Powerwall to those who also buy solar panels.
The reason why solar storage and energy storage in general is so expensive is that it’s uncharted territory. In 2010, you would have paid 40,000 for an average residential solar system, whereas today—the price is half that. 11 We’re optimistic that 10 years from now, solar storage along with the panels themselves will cost even less than they are today.
This is why most rooftop solar owners currently opt for a net metering setup. With this arrangement, your retail electricity provider agrees to buy excess solar power off your hands. Chariot Energy happens to be one of those providers! During peak generating hours, the excess solar energy you generate and don’t use is added to the grid. In turn, your electricity company will pay you for the energy you supplement to your local area.
Solar Panels are Difficult to Move Once Installed
Technically speaking, you could transfer your solar panels to your new home. But realistically, this almost never happens. Why? Because solar panels are custom-tailored to fit your roof, so moving them to a new location doesn’t make sense.
In most cases of people moving to a new home, the value of solar panels they had installed is tacked onto the home price. One study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory revealed that an average solar array increases home value by 15,000. 12 So, even though you would have to break up with your beloved solar panels, they’ll practically pay for the next set you install on your new home.
Some Solar Panels Use Rare Earth Metals
The name “rare earth metals” is a bit misleading — these elements are actually in ample supply. However, it’s the extracting of these elements for use in wind turbines and solar cells that has negative impacts on the environment and the humans that mine them. 12
Additionally, these rare earth elements carry a political weight to them. From 2014 to 2017, China supplied the U.S. with 80% of its rare earths imports. 14 These materials, which are critical to the creation of most modern technology, have the potential to play a giant role in shaping economies around the world.
Luckily, leading technology companies, such as Apple, are exploring methods to recycle these rare earth elements to maintain a steady supply, which keeps costs from inflating because of ever-increasing demand. 15
Is Solar Energy Worth the Investment?
Chariot Energy is a solar power company, so of course we’d say yes! But we also know this isn’t always the case for everyone. You have to consider these pros and cons and determine for yourself whether you want to go solar.
And remember that rooftop solar systems are not the only option you have! While it may seem like the most popular option, there are so many other ways you can go solar. Take our solar electricity plans, for example. Chariot Energy offers 100% solar energy plans for those with or without panels. We make the going green part easy — without having to spend a ton of green.
Rooftop Solar from Chariot
By turning to our next chapter – we are turning to you – our most valuable asset. You and our other past and present Chariot Energy customers will receive a free one-of-a-kind experience to go solar and keep your home energized…even when the grid is not.
We’ve seen energy skyrocket over the past year and many of us have experienced the volatility of our grid and the devastation it can bring when it’sdown.
Do Solar Panels Work At Night? On Cloudy Days?
Solar panels convert the free sunlight we receive daily into electricity, which we use to power our homes. Over the last decade, solar panels have taken the world by storm, and their popularity does not appear to be waning anytime soon. Indeed, nearly 3 million solar systems have been constructed across the country.
Although solar systems are not new, many people still need clarification about how they function. Numerous people want to know if and how solar panels work when it’s cloudy or at night.
There is plenty of sunlight; now is the time to harness it. Solar energy is as dependable as the sun itself. This page answers, Do solar panels work at night or on cloudy days? And how to use solar electricity when the sun isn’t shining. We recommend Jackery SolarSaga solar panels for all outdoor or off-grid power needs, and the SolarSaga 200W solar panels are ideal for working at night or on cloudy days with Jackery Explorer power stations.
What Are the Solar Panels?
Solar cells are the individual components that make up solar panels. The devices function by collecting light from our neighboring star, the sun. The light is subsequently converted into direct current (DC).
Their generated power is known as photovoltaic (PV) energy. which translates to ‘light electricity.’ A single panel will only produce enough electricity to power one or two modest items.
A solar system capable of powering a house or building would require an array of solar panels connected in parallel or in series. Furthermore, according to the materials used in PV. there are several varieties of solar panels, such as monocrystalline. polycrystalline, thin-film, and PERC solar panels.
Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels are one of the most effective ways to harness the sun’s power. They boast the highest efficiency of any product on the market, coming in at 25%, and are built from monocrystalline solar cells. Connect the solar panels to the Jackery Explorer portable power station to power all home appliances.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are unquestionably an excellent way to disconnect from the grid and use solar energy. But have you ever considered how these solar panels generate electricity and power your house?
Solar panels generate power or energy by using sunlight as their fuel. When solar panels are placed in an environment subjected to sunlight, the panels’ surfaces can convert the light into electricity. Solar panels are made up of electron-containing cells. A magnetic field is created by boron’s negative and phosphorus’s positive charges.
The sun’s rays destabilize the electrons and liberate the negatively charged electrons. The movement causes the generation of current or electricity. This electrical current, however, is not suited for residential appliances, which is when the solar inverter comes into play.
The solar inverter converts the generated electricity from direct to alternating current, allowing you to charge your equipment.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
The quick explanation is that solar energy systems only operate during the day. The sun’s power is critical to how a solar panel converts light into electricity. But that doesn’t mean solar can’t power your home day and night!
Solar panels comprise a series of solar cells consisting of two thin wafers of semiconductive material, often silicon. Each chip is doped with impurities to make it a better conductor because silicon is not a good conductor.
One wafer is doped with phosphorus to increase the number of free electrons, making the wafer more negative. The other wafer is laced with boron, which has more electron receptor holes and is more positive. This creates an electric field in the solar cells, where free electrons move around.
Light from the sun moves as photons or packets of energy. When a photon hits your solar cell, it carries an electron, making space for another electron. The electron tries to fill the area, but the electric field causes the room to move to the positive side, and the loose electron moves to the other side.
The electron must take a long round around to return. These flying electrons create the current in your photovoltaic (PV) system, and the electric field makes the voltage—the cells’ current passes via each panel and inverter and into your grid.
Without the sun’s energy to remove the electrons from their cozy condition, your home has no flow, current, or power.
Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
Yes, solar panels operate on overcast days, but less well than on sunny days. Depending on the thick clouds, they should make 10–25% of the power they usually do.
However, there is an interesting twist: while solar panels perform better on sunny days vs. cloudy days, they do not perform well in scorching climes. If the surface temperature of a solar panel increases over 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), output begins to decline.
You might be shocked that solar systems are popular in many famously foggy regions, like Seattle, which has the most cloudy days in America. Portland, Oregon, the country’s second cloudiest city, is also one of the top cities for solar power in the United States.
Both cities benefit from long summer days with warm temperatures, which are perfect for optimum solar generation and assist in offsetting lower production during the overcast winter months.
How to Use Solar Power at Night or on Cloudy Days?
As previously stated, solar panels generate no electricity at night. However, they produce more power when the sun is out throughout the day. Solar users use solar battery banks or net metering to maintain energy throughout the evening hours.
The most common form is called net energy metering, which is also sometimes called net metering or NEM. Solar systems are made to make more energy than is needed during the day and hot seasons.
The utility grid receives this extra power to supply nearby facilities like homes and businesses with electricity. Solar system owners receive credit for surplus energy from the utilities that operate the grid to compensate for their use of the grid at night and during low production periods.
During a true-up period, the balance of credits and debits is settled once a year. Many solar systems are intended for 100% offset, meaning households pay no grid electricity, and the reduced monthly payments for solar equipment replace monthly utility expenses.
Solar Battery Storage
Battery storage is the alternative means solar panels can be used at night. By storing excess solar energy in batteries, you can become energy independent or reduce your grid usage to an absolute minimum.
The idea behind solar energy storage is straightforward. Most solar systems are purposefully intended to provide more power than your home requires during the day. A solar battery system stores the day’s excess energy until it may be used at night.
By combining solar and battery power, households can effectively build their mini-utility and achieve energy independence. Solar and battery backup power are also viable options.
Your home can be powered by the energy saved in the battery system even when the sun isn’t shining. Some of his houses can even function off the grid or entirely independent of the utility.
Use a solar generator at night. You may wonder why a solar generator can operate at night. The explanation is simple: solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, which the power station restores for later use.
Solar generators produce clean, renewable energy that does not negatively impact the environment. Because of their high conversion efficiency. large capacity. and ease of use, Jackery Solar Generators are ideal for usage at night.
Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels: How to Choose?
Solar energy is defined as electrical or thermal energy derived from sunshine. Photovoltaic (PV) cells of semiconductor materials (such as silicon) are used in solar panels to collect photons, which are elemental particles emitted by the sun.
Jackery is the leading solar brand that manufactures high-quality solar products such as solar panels, power stations, and solar generators. The Jackery SolarSaga solar panels are lightweight and compact, making them easily transported.
How to Choose Solar Panels
Using solar panels or another sustainable energy source to power your home has many advantages. As a result, you may reduce your impact on the environment, save money on energy costs, and sleep better at night.
Types of Solar Panels : Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient. Because of their high silicon purity, solar panels made of monocrystalline silicon are the most efficient at converting light into energy. However, monocrystalline solar panels are frequently the most expensive—this option is preferable if you want the highest productivity and lowest cost. Jackery solar panels are composed of monocrystalline, the highest quality material.2. Solar Brands: Research solar panel manufacturers. The solar panel sector has expanded dramatically in recent years. There are already many competent and dependable solar panel manufacturers on the market. Jackery is the world’s leading brand, known for its high-quality solar goods and customer service.
Location: Before acquiring solar panels, ensure you have a suitable location for them. Many solar panels are put on the house’s roof, and older homes may need repairs, alterations, or even a total replacement before they can support solar panels.
Solar panels can also be put in some yards. If you have the room, this option is viable if roof installation is too expensive or impossible. However, because Jackery SolarSaga solar panels are foldable, you don’t need to select a suitable location; place it on the floor and face the sun.
Costs: Installing solar panels will reduce your utility bills over time, and the longer you use renewable energy, the more money you will save. However, there are some expenses to consider.
Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels Explained
Jackery SolarSaga solar panels are monocrystalline solar panels that are long-lasting, resistant, and excellent at absorbing sunlight.
The aesthetically pleasing panels and ergonomic handle design can be fitted in 60 seconds and are ideal for outdoor use. The solar power system is powered by eco-friendly, pollution-free, foldable panels that can be swiftly set up and carried.
Jackery solar panels, which use an industry-standard solar connector. are also compatible with third-party power stations. However, you can capture additional energy by deploying Jackery Explorer Power Stations.
The Jackery SolarSaga 200W solar panels are the finest option if you want a solution that can power your complete house. Solar panels with a greater conversion rate of 24.3% can produce more power under similar conditions.
200W solar panels. like 100W solar panels, are built to last. The ETFE-laminated housing and IP67 waterproof rating ensure they can survive harsh weather, extending the solar panels’ lifespan.
The three solar panel kickstands ensure you can quickly put it up and power all your appliances with solar energy. It is compatible with the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro/3000 Pro and can charge your home during prolonged power outages or camping vacations.
The handy carrying backpack with 200W solar panels makes it ideal for outdoor and off-grid adventures.
Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panel
Folded: 21,2 x 24,2 x 1,6 in
Unfolded: 21,2 x 91,3 x 1 in
Peak Power: 200W
Power Voltage: 18V
Power Current: 11.12A
Explorer 3000 Pro: Up to 6 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 2000 Pro: Up to 6 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 1500 Pro: Up to 6 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 1500: Up to 2 Pcs
Explorer 1000 Pro: Up to 4 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
The Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel is ideal for power interruptions. Furthermore, the collapsible, lightweight, and easy-carry handle makes it an excellent alternative for outdoor enthusiasts. The solar panels perform well with a high conversion efficiency of 23.7% thanks to multi-layered cell technology and monocrystalline silicon solar cells.
The ETFE-laminated case, IP65 water-resistant qualities, and solar cell zippers make it durable and extend its longevity. The SolarSaga 100W solar panel kit’s storage bag stores and protects the ports and wires from stress and dust.
Advanced solar panels have a foldable form, a rubber handle, and a compact size for simple transportation.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel
Folded: 24 x 21 x 1.4 in
Unfolded: 48 x 21 x 0.2 in
Weight: 10.33 lbs
Peak Power: 100W
Power Voltage: 18V
Power Current: 5.55A
Explorer 3000 Pro: Up to 6 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 2000 Pro: Up to 6 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 1500 Pro: Up to 6 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 1500: Up to 2 Pcs
Explorer 1000 Pro: Up to 4 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Both sides of the dual-sided Jackery SolarSaga 80W panels may generate electricity. The extra-white glass on the back panel improves conversion rates. According to IP68 requirements, it is dust- and waterproof, ensuring it can withstand harsh situations.
It is made of 2.8mm low iron complete toughened glass, which makes it highly robust. The back side panel absorbs dispersed and reflected light, increasing the conversion rate by 25%.
SolarSaga panels are IEC TS63163-approved and built from industrial-grade solar materials. It is highly compatible with all Jackery power stations and has a kickstand for easy installation.
Jackery SolarSaga 80W Solar Panel
Folded: 35.67 x 20.79 x 1.06 in
Unfolded: 35.67 x 20.79 x 1.06 in
Weight: 10.33 lbs
Peak Power: 80W
Power Voltage: 22V
Power Current: 3.6A
Explorer 3000 Pro: Up to 12 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 2000 Pro: Up to 10 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 1500 Pro: Up to 12 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 1500: Up to 4 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Explorer 1000 Pro: Up to 12 Pcs (with 2 solar connectors)
Do Solar Panels Work at Night FAQs
The following are the frequently asked questions concerning do solar panels work at night:
The solar panel system will operate on cloudy days and performs best when temperatures are not too high. Your solar panel brand will determine your panels’ efficiency in different weather conditions.
Solar panel efficiency is affected by various factors, including the type of solar cells employed, their orientation and angle to the sun. and even their location.
Solar cells are the primary building block of a solar panel and are classified into three types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. Monocrystalline panels have the most excellent efficiency ratings because each cell is manufactured from a single crystal structure.
The short answer is YES. Solar panels, of course, work even on cloudy days or in the winter. Solar panels can still convert sunlight into electricity during cloudy days, albeit the output will be lower than sunny days.
Like any other season, solar panels gather energy by capturing light from the sun during the winter. Of course, less sunshine is available in winter due to fewer daylight hours and the sun’s lower position in the sky.
Reviewing solar panel specifications to ensure you understand where you invest your hard-earned money is critical.
The solar panel specifications sheet contains electric ratings, technical jargon, and a variety of other criteria that influence the efficiency of the solar panel. The technical specs of solar panels are usually available on the manufacturer’s website.
Direct sunlight creates the maximum power through your solar panels, usually between late morning and early afternoon or when the sun is at its zenith. In the winter, solar panels produce less electricity. Because direct and indirect sunlight conveys photons, a combination of direct and indirect sunlight on solar panels generates energy, which the solar panels convert into electricity.
This has helped to answer your question! If you want to know more about the advantages of solar panels and whether or not they are an excellent financial investment, check out our site. Using Jackery solar panels not only can save your budget, but also they are easy to carry and set up.
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Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days? What About at Night?
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Written by Josh Hurst
Writer and editor with more than a decade’s experience in journalism. Josh worked for Christianity Today for seven years, and has contributed to special assignments for Apple Music and iTunes. Josh lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Kati, and two sons, Henry and Dylan.While he mainly focuses on musical journalism he is excited to save the earth on article at a time through sustainability best practices articles as well. Learn About This Person
Reviewed by Melissa Smith
Melissa is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainability studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit that’s featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral. Learn About This Person
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Solar Panel Performance on Cloudy Days
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate electrical power. This means they can still be productive even when there is Cloud coverage. With that said, solar panels are most efficient and productive when they are soaking up direct sunlight on sunny days.
While solar panels still work even when the light is reflected or partially obstructed by clouds, their energy production capacity will be diminished. On average, solar panels will generate 10 to 25% of their normal power output on days with heavy Cloud coverage.
With clouds usually comes rain, and here’s a fact that might surprise you: Rain actually helps solar panels work more effectively. That’s because rain washes away any dirt or dust that has gathered on your panels so that they can more efficiently absorb sunlight.
SunPower designs and installs industry-leading residential solar and storage solutions across all 50 states. With a storied history of innovation dating back to 1985, no other company on this list can match SunPower’s experience and expertise.
SunPower earns its position as the top national installer on our list for a handful of reasons: It installs the most efficient solar technology on the residential market, offers the most expansive service area and backs its installations with a warranty well above the industry standard. All the while, SunPower pioneers sustainability efforts within the industry.
If that weren’t enough, SunPower systems come packaged with products all manufactured in-house by its sister company, Maxeon. This means that your panels, solar cells, inverters, battery and EV chargers are designed to work together and are all covered under the same warranty.
SunPower’s biggest downside? Its high-efficiency panels are considerably more expensive than most of its competitors’ products. However, its powerful panels are workhorses that make up for the initial cost with more backend production (think about this like spending more money for a car that gets more miles per gallon).
Facts and Figures: SunPower
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, EV Chargers, System Monitoring|
|25-year all-inclusive warranty|
Blue Raven Solar
We like Blue Raven Solar because it understands that, for most homeowners, the cost of solar presents the biggest barrier to entry.
For that reason, Blue Raven Solar developed an innovative solar financing plan that offers in-house, flexible, zero-money-down options. The results speak for themselves, as Blue Raven Solar is now one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the nation and was recently acquired by SunPower. Its BluePower Plus plan (exclusive to Blue Raven) mimics the flexible structure of a lease while still providing the greatest benefits of owning your system.
Eligible homeowners enjoy 18 months of solar power before having to pay their first bill. When coupled with the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), the initial energy savings can offset more than a third of the overall cost of a system before requiring a dollar down.
In contrast, other installers can only offer similar financing through solar leases, PPAs or third-party providers (such as Mosaic or Sunlight). Third-party loan providers can complicate the process, while opting for a loan or PPA will disqualify you from some of solar’s biggest benefits (additional property value, federal solar tax credit and local solar incentives).
Facts and Figures: Blue Raven Solar
|Solar Panels, System Monitoring|
|Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, SolarEdge, Silfab, SunPower|
|25-year manufacturer warranty; 10-year workmanship warranty, 2-year production guarantee|
ADT Solar sets the industry standard for warranty coverage by including a multifaceted guarantee, making it one of the top installers for homeowners who want added peace of mind.
Its warranty coverage includes all of the following for 25 years:
- Power Production Guarantee: Also known as a performance guarantee, this ensures your solar system will produce the amount of electricity that’s outlined in your proposal, or ADT will write you a check for the difference.
- Labor Guarantee: This covers any issues with the installation of your system and is also known as a workmanship warranty.
- Panel Module Performance Guarantee: This is what ADT Solar refers to the manufacturer warranty as, and it ensures that any manufacturing defects are repaired or your ineffective panels replaced.
- Enphase Microinverters Guarantee: This backs the performance of your inverters.
Though in recent years other solar companies have started to offer similar guarantees, ADT Solar has been at it since 2008, performing over 30,000 installations across the country.
Facts and Figures: ADT Solar
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, EV Chargers, Energy-Efficiency Upgrades|
|Silfab, Panasonic and others depending on location|
|25-year all-inclusive warranty|
Solar Panel Performance at Night
While solar panels can still function on cloudy days, they cannot work at night. The reason for this is simple: Solar panels work because of a scientific principle called the photovoltaic effect, wherein solar cells are activated by sunlight, generating electrical current.
Without light, the photovoltaic effect cannot be triggered, and no electric power can be generated. One way to tell if your panels are still producing energy is to look at public lights. As a general rule of thumb, if street lamps or other lights are turned off — whether on cloudy days or in the evening — your solar panels will be producing energy.
If they’re illuminated, it’s likely too dark out for your solar panel system to work.
You can get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a leading solar company in your area by clicking below.
Storing Solar Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night
During hours of peak sunlight, your solar panels may actually generate more power than you need. This surplus power can be used to provide extra electricity on cloudy days or at night. But how do you store this energy for future use?
There are a couple of options to consider: You can store surplus energy in a solar battery. When you add a solar battery to your residential solar installation, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including nighttime hours and during exceptionally cloudy weather.
Batteries may allow you to run your solar PV system all day long, though there are some drawbacks of battery storage to be aware of:
- It’s one more thing you need to install.
- It adds to the total cost of your solar system.
- Batteries will take up a bit of space.
- You will likely need multiple batteries if you want electricity for more than a handful of hours. For example, Tesla solar installations require two Powerwall batteries if your system is over 13 kilowatts.
You can use a net metering program. Net metering programs enable you to transmit any excess power your system produces into your municipal electric grid, receiving credits from your utility company.
Those credits can be cashed in to offset any electrical costs you incur on overcast days or at night, when you cannot power your home with solar energy alone. Net metering can ultimately be a cost-effective option and can significantly lower your electricity bills, but there are a few drawbacks to consider, including:
- You may not always break even.
- In some cases, you may still owe some money to your utility provider.
- Net metering programs are not offered in all areas and by all utility companies.
Is Residential Solar Right for You?
Now that you know solar panels can work even when the sun isn’t directly shining and that there are ways to store your energy for times your panels aren’t producing electricity, you may be more interested in installing your own system.
You can get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a leading solar company in your area by clicking below.
How Do Solar Panels Power A Home At Night Or On Cloudy Days?
You’ve probably wondered what happens to solar panels at night or on cloudy days. In order for PV (Photovoltaic cells) to convert sunlight into electricity, you need to have sunlight. This is why solar panels work best during the summer season! So when solar panels aren’t generating enough electricity, are you still getting your money’s worth?
The great thing about solar is that the power can be switched to be drawn from the power grid at any time – and you can actually use solar power at the same time as the utility if necessary. The solar array system is wired into a home breaker box (electrical panel), which can then provide power to anything connected to the electrical circuit. Being connected to the power meter the power grid at the same time allows for a “bidirectional” connection.
A bidirectional connection is like a standard electricity meter, except that it’s designed to measure electricity flow in two directions. When you install grid connected solar power system, you need a meter that can tell you not just how much energy you’ve consumed but also how much you’ve fed back into the grid.
Watch this short video on how bidirectional connection works (also known as “Net Metering”):
If you have a battery bank set up, you’ll be able to access the stored energy when needed. Many customers also like to get backup-batteries in case of emergency situations where power outages occur. Battery back-ups can be used for small scale cases such as residential solar as well as larger projects like commercial or utility-scale. In certain cases, battery back-ups may not even be necessary so it’s important to discuss this with your solar installer.
Even without a battery bank, a solar array will heavily reduce your utility bill. When looking at solar power from a financial perspective, you’ll be considering how much it produces over an entire year, not so much on a particular day. Some utility companies will compensate you at the end of the year for any extra power that you generate from your solar array system. This is one of the benefits of remaining tied to the grid; sharing power can be a win-win for you and your local power producer.
As with nighttime hours, the efficiency of a solar power system decreases on cloudy days since less sunlight reaches your solar panels. However, this does not mean that zero power is being produced. On a cloudy day, typical solar panels can produce 10-25% of their rated capacity.
Cloudy locations are still a good match for solar. For example, Portland is known for its bleak and rainy winters, and has cloudier weather than most cities. Yet over the course of a year, Portland gets about as much sunlight as the average U.S. city. The solar panels also benefit from having slightly cooler temperatures on average; because of the electronics inside, solar panels work best when they aren’t too hot. So in a city with extreme heat, solar is actually less efficient.
Mother nature has her days, and so every solar installation is made to optimize the potential of sunlight when it’s available. Cloudy days will hardly affect the return on investment of solar panels over the course of a year.
To learn more, contact your local solar installers at Southern Current today to request a FEE solar consultation for your property!
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What is net metering and how does it work?
Net metering is an electric billing tool that uses the electric grid to “store” excess energy produced by your solar panel system. Under net metering, the energy produced by your solar panels that you don’t use is credited back to you. On a cloudy or rainy day when your panels aren’t producing enough energy, the utility grid will feed your home energy, and count that energy against the credits you’ve banked over time. As a solar customer, you will only be billed for your “net” energy usage. Also known as net energy metering or NEM, net metering is the solar industry’s foundational policy.
How does net metering work?
Say you’ve installed a solar panel system and you live in an area with a net metering program. When your photovoltaic system produces more electricity than you’re using at any point during the day, the electricity is sent back to the grid, running your electric meter in reverse. When your energy use is higher than your solar panel production, either at night or on cloudy days, you’ll pull electricity back from the grid, running your meter forwards. At the end of the month or year, you’ll be billed the net amount of what you send to the grid and what you pull from the grid: hence “net metering”.
With a correctly sized solar energy system, you can produce enough electricity to match your home’s electricity use for the entire year. However, the amount of electricity your solar panels produce will vary throughout the year: more in sunnier summer months, and less when the sun is lower in the sky and sets earlier in the winter. Net metering helps you to account for these seasonal differences in solar production by crediting you for the excess electricity your panels produce so that you can use it at a later date.
FICTION. With net metering, you can receive utility bill credits for the excess generation that your solar panels produce. However, in most cases, you won’t receive a cash payment from your utility for your excess solar electricity. If you do generate more electricity than you use in a year, electric utility companies in some states will let you carry credits over into future years, while others will reduce your credits. With that in mind, it’s important that your system size is large enough to offset as close to 100 percent of your electricity needs as possible, but not to produce significantly more than you use.
Why does net metering exist?
Net metering policies were designed for two primary purposes: first, to encourage the greater adoption of renewable energy throughout the country; and second, because utilities–and the electricity grid as a whole–can benefit from the influx of low- to no-cost solar energy onto the grid. Solar energy can help balance the cost of purchasing electricity from other resources, especially during summer months when electricity is often the most expensive on the hottest–and sunniest!–days of the year.
How do electricity bills work with net metering?
In general, most homes will produce excess electricity in the summer months and will use more electricity from the grid in the winter. Because these variations in production are fairly predictable, your utility won’t send you a monthly check when you produce more than you need. Instead, you will build up extra credits during the summer months so that you can draw from them at night and during the winter months when you need them. With the right design, your system can generate enough power to match your total electricity use for a year, even if you produce much more than you need in some months and much less in others.
When your solar power system generates more electricity than you use over the course of a month, you will receive a credit based on the net number of kilowatt-hours you gave back to the grid. If you produce less electricity than you use in a given month, you must buy electricity from your utility to make up the difference. In these instances, you would pay for the electricity you use, minus any excess electricity your solar panels generated.
Other types of net metering
While traditional net metering is the most popular way to receive credits back from solar energy generated, there are other ways depending on where you live and what your state and utility provider have available.
Buy all/sell all
As opposed to other models of metering, the buy all/sell all model works by allowing users to sell 100% of the energy generated by their panels to the utility company. In return, they get 100% of their home’s energy from their utility at the retail rate. Two separate meters are required for this type of net metering and the user will pay the difference between the amount generated and amount consumed. With buy all/sell all net metering, you don’t directly consume any of the energy generated by your solar panels.
In the past, net billing has been most common in large commercial solar installations, but it’s becoming more and more popular for home installations as the total number of distributed solar energy systems increases. Net billing is similar to net metering in that it allows you to essentially use the grid as storage for the excess electricity generated by your solar system.
Under net metering, your credits are typically a one-to-one exchange: a kilowatt-hour produced by your solar panels is worth the same amount as a kilowatt-hour produced by the grid. However, with net billing, your compensation rate is typically lower than what you pay for electricity. Instead of “banking” the credits earned from the excess energy generated by your solar panels, you’ll “sell” that energy back to your utility, typically at the wholesale rate instead of the retail rate.
In essence, net metering is like having the grid serve as a giant solar battery. But, if you install an off-grid solar panel system, you don’t receive the benefits of net metering, as you won’t be able to rely on the grid as a massive battery: you’ll need your own batteries to keep the lights on once the sun goes down. For nearly all residential (and commercial) applications, staying connected to the grid is your best bet.
Use net metering to save by going solar
Net metering is the best solar policy because it allows you to store every unit of energy you produce with solar to be used at a later date from the grid. In fact, thanks to net metering, you can save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their solar panel system by offsetting your need for electricity from the grid.
While net metering is not the only way that utilities compensate homeowners for going solar, it’s by far the most common and effective solar policy at the moment. Check out this article to learn if your state offers net metering or another type of solar compensation program, and be sure to visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE®), which tracks net metering and other solar incentives and rebates.
To see how much you can save with solar, check out the EnergySage Solar Calculator, or register for a free account on EnergySage to see custom solar quotes from local installers today.
FAQs about net metering
Here are some key questions residential customers often have about net metering:
Do net metering credits expire?
While it can depend on where you live, in most states, your net metering credits will roll over from month-to-month and sometimes year-to-year, meaning you won’t have to use all of your credits in one billing period. So, since your solar energy system produces high amounts of energy in the summer, you can build up credits to use in winter billing cycles, when your generation is lower.
What is virtual net metering?
Many states have virtual net metering, or VNEM, policies, which allow you to benefit from net metering even if you don’t have solar installed on-site at your home. In most cases, you participate in virtual net metering by subscribing to a local community solar farm. Under virtual net metering, the electricity generated by the solar farm will be fed into the grid and the net metering credits will be shared among all subscribers. The energy produced by your share of the farm is sold to you at a discount, reducing your annual electricity costs by 5-15%. Community solar is a great option if you’re unable to install a rooftop solar system – check out the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace to explore projects near you.
What is NEM 3.0?
In December 2022, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the regulatory agency in charge of private utility companies in California, approved California’s new net metering policy, NEM 3.0. NEM 3.0 goes into effect on April 14, 2023 and significantly reduces the rate at which utility customers with solar energy systems are compensated for the excess electricity they send to the grid. Importantly, as long as you submit a complete interconnection application for your solar installation by April 13, you’ll be grandfathered into NEM 2.0, allowing you to save substantially more money over the lifetime of your solar energy system.
Does net metering only apply to solar?
Not necessarily – while solar is by far the most common, depending on the net metering rules in your state, you may be able to net meter with other types of distributed generation systems like wind turbines.
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