Will Solar Power From Detached Garage Really Save Money?
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Sun is a never ending source of clean energy. Sure, you know that. But did you know that Solar Power from your Detached Garage can really save money?
Unless you are a scientist or an engineer working in the energy sector, you may have limited knowledge about how solar power works and saves money for you.
In this post I will explain the basics of solar power in simple easy to understand language. This will be enough for you to understand the solar power system and estimate the rating you need, costs involved, tax benefits, energy cost savings, etc.
You will be able to figure out the “Return On Investment” (ROI) of getting Solar Power from Detached Garage.
How Much Money can you Save using Solar Power from Detached Garage?
You can save 600 per year on an average by installing a 3 kW Solar Power System on a Detached Garage roof. The system will generate 4000 kWh of electricity per year. The garage should have 200-240 square feet of south facing roof to accommodate 10-12 solar panels. The payback period is 7-10 years and the ROI is in the 10-30% range.
The numbers are indicative estimates. Several factors need to be considered for specific calculations. Read the blog for a better understanding.
Can you put Solar Panels on Detached Garage?
You definitely can put solar panels on your detached garage roof, if it gets plenty of sunlight.
Installation of Solar Panels on top of a detached garage that has a sufficiently large roof facing the sun most of the day could even make the detached garage power independent from your home. The solar panels can generate electricity during day and store it in batteries for use at night.
The power requirement of a detached garage is not much. The power generated from the solar panels on the detached garage will be able to meet the requirement. With solar panels you can even insulate and add heating to a detached garage and make it more comfortable.
How does Home Solar Power work?
Home Solar Power, in this case the Garage Solar Power, works by using technology to harness the energy in the sunlight and converting it to electricity.
The electricity can be used to run the essentials such as the Garage Door Opener Motor and the Garage Door Lights. It can be used to run climate control and ventilation equipment such as the exhaust fans and split mini air conditioners or the radiant heating to keep the garage comfortable and livable.
Sun as the Power Source
The sun is huge and at its core is hydrogen. The hydrogen is at extremely high temperatures pressure because of the immense size gravity of the sun. The result is that the hydrogen atoms meld together to form helium atoms through a process called “nuclear fusion”
Nuclear fusion releases a lot of energy. When I say, a lot, it is really A LOT!!
“Every 1.5 millionths of a second, the Sun releases more energy than all humans consume in an entire year.”
Put another way, the amount of solar energy falling on earth is 10,000 times more than what humans need. (Source: NOAA)
What is the Purpose of Photovoltaic Cell?
Scientists Engineers have figured out a way by which the sunlight is used to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. They call this process “photovoltaic”.
A solar panel is nothing but an array of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which is basically a sandwich made up of two slices of semiconducting material, usually silicon.
The electricity from each cell is collected and channeled to an inverter. The inverter converts DC to AC which can be used or stored.
What are the Main Components of a Solar Power System?
A residential Solar Power System can be “grid-tied” or “off-grid”. The off-grid system has the following main components.
The number of panels required depends on the total energy kW requirement and the energy that each panel can generate.
Most residential solar power systems use between 250-325 watt solar panels. So a 10kW solar power system will have between 30-40 solar panels.
Each solar panel has an inverter that converts the DC electricity generated to AC electricity required. The inverter is often integrated into the solar panel, making the installation process a lot easier.
This is the frame that holds the photovoltaic cells and the inverter into a solar panel. This needs to be light and sleek.
Complete electricity generation and consumption analysis available from the EnergyLink app.
Energy Storage Batteries
The electrical energy generated during the day when the sun is shining is stored in an efficient battery for use in the night to, say, power the lights.
Technically speaking, this would not be necessary in a grid-tied system. In reality it is a good practice to have it as a backup for unexpected power outages. The battery can also kick in when demand on the grid is high (which means the rates are high!)
Power, Energy Consumption Area Calculation Guide
Every electrical appliance, right from a light bulb to a refrigerator, in your house comes with a power rating. For example an LED bulb may be rated 15W while a refrigerator may be rated 150W.
To calculate the actual energy consumption, you need to multiply the power rating of an appliance with the number of hours the appliance is in use, A 15W LED bulb switched on for 5 hours would consume 75Wh of energy.
To estimate the energy requirement of your home, you will need to estimate the usage time of each appliance, multiply that by its power rating and then add up all the energy consumption estimates across every appliance.
Rating of Solar Power System
This can be very tedious. An easier way is to check your electricity bill for the last 12 months. Utility bills will give you the energy consumed in kWh along with the amount.
It is best to take a 12 month period as the energy consumption will have a seasonality. For estimating the required power rating of the solar power system, use the maximum, rather than the average, monthly consumption.
Just For Your Information
In 2019, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,649 kWh, an average of about 877 kWh per month.
If the maximum monthly consumption is 900 kWh then the daily consumption would be 30 kWh. Assuming that the solar panels on the detached garage can get direct sunlight for 5 hours in a day, the power rating of the solar power system on the detached garage should be 6 kW.
This calculation assumes 100% efficiency. In reality, efficiencies are lower and you would probably need a 8kW system.
The amount of sunlight you can get is location dependent. You would need a much larger system in Alaska as compared to one in Texas, for example.
A solar panel takes up about 20 square foot of roof space. If it is rated at 300 W, then a 6 kW (that is 6000 W) solar power system would use 20 panels (6000 W divided by 300 W) and would need 400 square feet (20 X 20) of roof space.
Keep in mind that these are simplistic calculations, just to illustrate the method.
In reality, many other factors such as roof pitch, panel efficiency, location etc. have to be incorporated in the calculation.
Which is Better? Grid-Tied or Off-Grid Solar Power System?
An important decision that you will need to make is whether your Solar Power System will be Grid-Tied or Off-Grid.
In a grid-tied system the energy generated is stored in the power grid, whereas in the off-grid system the energy generated has to be stored in batteries.
- Lower initial cost as storage battery is not required
- Can sell additional energy to the grid
- Assurance of power from the grid if your requirement is higher
Often even a grid-tied system has a battery storage as a backup, in case of unexpected power outages or extreme weather.
If your house is far from the grid then an off-grid system may be more cost effective and better for you.
How Much does a Solar Power System for a Detached Garage Cost?
The cost of a Solar Power System for a Detached Garage depends mainly on the power rating and whether the system will be grid-tied, grid-tied with battery backup or off-grid.
Solar Power System cost should include all costs; that is solar panels, inverters, panel mounting, circuit breakers, wiring, storage batteries, etc., labor costs, permits inspections.
can and do vary across locations. This is partly based on the amount of sunlight a state gets. The more the sunshine hours the less the number of solar panels required for the same kWh energy generation.
also depend on quality and the guarantees that manufacturers give. It is not advisable to go for the lowest price as it is a long term investment.
The good news is that the initial costs of solar power systems have been steadily declining. It has dropped from 6.00 per watt in 2010 to 2.50 in 2020.
How to Get a Building Permit for a Solar System?
Before you can put up a solar power system on your detached garage you need to get a building permit from the local authorities.
The solar permit is only granted after submission of drawing sets for rooftop installations. Engineering drawings with detailed measurements for obstructions, fire setbacks, array locations, conduit path, junction boxes, mounts and rails, must be submitted and an approval obtained.
DISCLAIMER: I am not an employee or affiliate of Go Green Solar or SUNPOWER. I will not have any financial or other benefits if you buy their products or use their services. The information presented here is to better inform my readers and to be help them in their decision making.
If your home is in California or a nearby state, why not check out Go Green Solar. Their solar kits come with a guarantee that you will receive a permit to install your system or your money back.
They will make sure you have all the necessary components and instructions to get your system up and running. They have thousands of satisfied customers and hundreds of testimonials!
Check out Solar Reviews to get an idea of the cost by state, by brand and by system size. The site also has a solar panel cost calculator, that you can use for your specific requirements.
Are there Tax Breaks for Installing Solar Panels?
Here is a link that can be super helpful for understanding and claiming the Federal Tax:
Federal Solar Tax Credit (What It Is How to Claim It for 2023)https://www.ecowatch.com/solar/incentives/federal-tax-credit
In addition to the Tax Credit from the Federal Government, most states have incentives that can further lower your cost or provide some other value. For example New Jersey allows 100% exemption from Sales Tax.
Please check for your state and location.
What is the Best Way to Finance Solar Panels?
Some companies offer integrated solar power system solutions. This includes features like a 25 year guarantee on all components and a financing option with 0% down payment. They can also adjust your eligible Tax Credit from the initial price.
- The SunPower Equinox® system with SunVault™ Storage is the only home solar storage system designed by one company. From record-breaking panels to seamless energy storage, every component is designed to work together perfectly.
- The warranty covers your whole system (not just the panels). They have got you covered for 25 years – including performance, labor and parts.(conditions may apply).
- The SunPower Equinox® system features unrivaled performance with the most efficient solar panels on the market.
- Their experts do the legwork. They are a national brand with a large network of dealers installers.
- SunPower offers three flexible payment options, so you can choose what’s right for you—cash, lease or loan. And you may qualify for federal solar tax credits with a cash purchase or our popular loans.
Why put Solar Panels on a Detached Garage Roof?
Solar panels can be placed anywhere, as long as they get maximum exposure to sunlight. The detached garage may often be a good choice for a residential solar power project.
Quite often the location of a detached garage is ideal. The roof may not be under any shade. This ensures that the panels are exposed to the sunlight for longer periods.
The electricity produced by a solar panel is directly proportional to the time it is exposed to direct sunlight. Put another way, the size of the solar power system can be reduced if the exposure time can be reduced.
Roof Style Pitch
A building roof can be a gable roof, a gambrel roof or a hip roof. Generally detached garages have gable roofs with a low pitch of 3/12 or 4/12. The main house usually has a hip roof with a higher pitch ranging from 4/12 and 9/12.
For the same floor area a gable roof will offer more space to put panels than a hip roof. A standard 2 car garage has a floor area of 400 (20’X20’) square feet. Each of the gable roofs will have an area of around 206 square feet, enough to put 10 solar panels. That can power a 3 kW solar power system.
Now that may not be enough but it helps. Other panels can be put on parts of the house roof.
If you think that solar panels on your roof reduce the curb appeal, then putting some of the panels on the detached garage roof will certainly help. Since the garage doors will likely face the street, the garage roof will be perpendicular to the street.
The solar panels will be less visible. It also helps that the garage roof is both low and at a lower pitch.
Read my earlier blog post The Best Location For Detached Garage Next To House (Practical!) if you are planning on a new detached garage.
Convenient Battery Location
The batteries of the solar power system can be conveniently located within the garage. Quite often it is difficult to find a convenient place for them inside the house.
Add a Carport
Is your garage so full of stuff that your cars need to be parked outside? Why not add a carport attached to the detached garage and place some of the solar panels on it?
You will be killing two birds with one stone.
Check out my earlier blog post What You Need To Know About Carport Attached To The Garage for more information on carports.
DISCLAIMER: What Is the Safest Way to Handle Electrical Wires?
This post is for information only. I strongly recommend that all electrical work should be entrusted to licensed professional electricians. In case you do decide to do some of the work yourself, make sure that:
“Treat all electrical wiring, even “de-energized” ones as if it is live, unless it has been locked out and tagged”
- Use protective eyewear, especially when drilling or grinding metal
- Wear insulated rubber gloves when working on any circuit or branch circuit
- Always use insulated tools while working with electricity
- De-energize the electrical wires on which you will be working. Tag the circuit breaker to prevent someone from switching it on accidently
- Electrical wiring in wet or damp locations or underground must be within a PVC conduit
- Underground wiring conduits should be at least 18 inches below grade as per code
- All receptacles for equipment that could be in wet or damp locations should be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
- Never use old frayed cables, damaged insulation or broken plugs
- High voltage equipment should be properly grounded to insure electricity flows directly to the ground and not through the person in contact with the live wire
The bottom line is that solar power systems installed on a detached garage (and other parts of the house) can result in enough savings to offset your electricity bills. You will really appreciate its usefulness when the grid breaks down in a storm.
Solar power is earth friendly and will reduce your carbon footprint. The Federal Government will give you Tax Credits too!
The initial setup cost is substantial but you will recoup your investment much before the warranty on the system expires. You can also avail of financing options.
So what are you waiting for?
Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.
Can I Save Money By Installing Solar Panels on My Garage Roof?
Now that spring has sprung, outdoor home improvement season is upon us. With Earth Day approaching on April 22, it seems appropriate to dedicate this post to a “green” topic: solar power. Specifically, does it make financial sense to use your Downers Grove residential garage to generate electricity with solar panels? The short answer is: Yes, thanks to current federal and state incentives.
Does Solar Power Make Sense for DuPage County Homeowners?
California is currently the biggest market for solar energy, largely due to aggressive laws promoting solar. One law even requires solar panels on all new homes effective January 1, 2010. So, you are probably wondering, how does Illinois compare?
Illinois is currently ranked 34th out of the 50 states for the amount of solar power generated. However, thanks to new state programs that are just ramping up in 2019, Illinois is projected to rank 12th in the nation in five years.
According to the real estate brokerage company Redfin, Chicago buildings scored 80 out of 100 on average for solar power potential; a minimum score of 75 is necessary for a building to be considered “good” for solar power generation.
Solar Cost-Benefit Analysis for Northern Illinois Residents
The average 6-kilowatt residential solar system costs roughly 20,000 upfront, but your cost could be closer to 50,000 if you have a larger home and want to produce more of your own electricity.
While that may seem like a huge amount of money, there are significant incentives and savings. Right now in Illinois, you could break even in as little as 10 years, the point at which your cumulative financial benefits exceed your upfront cost. ComEd customers can get a complete financial estimate online that is customized to your address and past power usage.
In addition to being a renewable and non-polluting source of energy, solar panels offer the following tax incentives and savings:
- A homeowner who purchases and installs a solar system can claim 30% of their total investment as a federal income tax credit if the project begins in 2019. The credit drops to 26% for projects started in 2020 and 22% for projects started in 2021. On a 20,000 project, you will get around 6,000 back on your next tax return.
- Residential solar system owners in Illinois will be able to sell Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) through long-term contracts with the Illinois Power Agency (IPA), provided your system is installed by an IPA-approved vendor. You will be paid in year one for the value of the solar energy you will produce over 15 years. This incentive is estimated to pay back about 25% of your solar installation cost, or 5,000 on a 20,000 project.
- Given these federal and state incentives, a homeowner should break even on their solar energy project in about 10 years. Over the next 10 years after that, you should experience cumulative savings roughly equal to your installation cost.
The U.S. currently has over 60 gigawatts of solar capacity, enough to power over 12 million homes, and this capacity is expected to double by 2024. Nearly two million U.S. households have installed solar panels. 2019 is a great time to consider making your home part of that expansion.
Replace Your Whole Garage or Just the Roof in DuPage County
If you want to make sure your garage roof is in good shape before you have solar panels installed, call Blue Sky Builders. We are a licensed Illinois roofing contractor and can help you with all of your DuPage County garage building needs. Call us at 630-852-8485 for a free estimate.
Traditional lighting in your garage consumes energy and leaves behind a hefty monthly bill. With solar installation in Florida, you can reduce your monthly energy expenditure and fully enjoy the comforts of electricity without worrying about skyrocketing bills.
Installing solar panels in your house is the best way to save money and ensure a more comfortable life for you and your family. Read to learn if you can power your garage with solar panels.
Can You Power a Garage with Solar Panels?
You can power a garage with solar panels. First, figure out how much energy the garage uses and what kind of energy it uses. Then determine how many solar panels will be needed to meet the demand. Finally, determine how much it’ll cost and how long it’ll take to pay off your initial investment.
A basic garage needs at least 24KWh of electricity per month to power its machines and 45 KWh to power a detached garage. Solar panels of 300 watts can provide enough energy to operate a detached garage if exposed to sunshine for 6 hours daily.
Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells (or PV), which convert the energy in sunlight into electricity. You can mount solar panels on rooftops, integrate into Windows, or install them on large-scale ground arrays.
The following steps are how solar panels operate:
- Sunlight hits a solar cell, and photons of light knock electrons loose from their atoms, knocking them into a higher state of energy.
- The electrons flow through the semiconductor and create an electrical current.
- Wires carry the current through an inverter that changes it from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).
What Do You Need to Consider Before Installing Solar In a Garage?
Installing solar panels reduces your carbon footprint, but it’s not as simple as just buying some panels, putting them on your roof, and calling it a day. You’re going to want to consider a few things before you start installing solar panels.
- Have the funds available to pay for them before making any commitments; if not, there are ways to finance the purchase through local banks or your bank if they offer loans. It helps spread out payments so that the initial cost doesn’t seem overwhelming.
- The kind of roof. Not all roofs are created equal—some are flat, while others are sloped or curved in some way or another. You’ll need an installer who knows how best to work with whatever type of roofing material yours has so they can install your panels securely and safely without causing damage or leaks.
- The energy amount. Solar energy systems produce a certain amount of energy. If your garage doesn’t need much power, installing a large system with big panels and many batteries might not make sense.
- Condition of the roof. Ensure the roof of your garage can support the weight of the panels. If your roof is older or damaged, it may not be able to hold them.
- The direction of your roof. Solar panels that face south receive the most sunlight, so if you want to maximize your energy production, install them on the south side of your garage.
Advantages of Solar Panels In Your Garage
Here are the best reasons to install solar panels in your garage:
- Energy savings. Solar energy is free, so you can enjoy all the benefits once you’ve invested in solar panels. Not only does it save money on the utility bill, but it will also reduce your carbon footprint.
- Self-sufficiency. With solar panels in place, it means that if there’s an outage or other disruption in service.
- Reduces maintenance costs: Solar panels require very little maintenance since they don’t use moving parts that need replacement every so often; just let them sit there for years without any problems.
- No air pollution: Solar panels do not produce harmful emissions. They do not require any fuel or electricity to operate, so they don’t pollute the air around them.
- Durable: Solar panels withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions. You can install them in various locations without worrying about damaging them. They can last for 30 years.
- Rebates: Many utility companies offer rebates for installing solar panels on your home or business property. It helps offset some of the costs of installing the panels in your garage.
What Equipments of Solar Panels Do You Need to Run Your Garage
If you want to run your garage on solar power, some equipment items will help you get the job done.
- Solar panel. The panel converts sunlight into electricity and stores it in the battery. A good-quality solar panel can produce up to 30 volts.
- Charge controller. The charge controller regulates the power drawn from the sun and when it gets used by your battery bank or inverter. It also prevents overcharging and discharging of your batteries, which could permanently damage them and render them useless for future use.
- Cable. Cabling connects each panel and runs from each panel to an inverter or battery bank (if you have one). This cable should be rated for outdoor use and be UL listed for safety reasons.
Solar Panels: How Many Fit a Garage?
First, measure your garage’s dimensions: length, width, and height. Know how many hours of sunlight are in your area during the summer months and the amount of energy those hours generate daily. It gives you an idea of how many panels will fit in your garage.
Averagely you need 10–12 solar panels to provide 4000 kWh of electricity annually. The required roof area is 200-240 sq ft facing south.
Solar power is a viable alternative to your standard utility provider if you want to save on your energy bills and prevent pollution. Yes, it was more expensive. Yes, figuring out how to collect the power takes a bit of effort, but the payoffs could be great. There are plenty of solar-powered homeowners that can attest to that. You have to decide whether or not it will work for you. Visithttps://westbayenergy.com/solar-panel-installation/ for reliable solar solutions.
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Learn what solar panels are, how they work, and why we installed solar panels on the roof of our Charlotte home.
We call our garage “the spaceship” now. And since we installed solar panels on our garage roof about a month ago, our spaceship is already making a little money.
Most likely, you already know what a solar panel is. On the off-chance you don’t, here’s a quick refresher:
What is a Solar Panel?
A solar panel is a neat piece of technology that converts the sun’s energy into electricity. It works by converting the light waves into DC electrical energy. Then, that DC energy goes through an inverter to turn it into AC electricity, which is what the US power grid uses. Most days, any energy the solar panels generate goes back into the grid.
Over time, solar panels have gotten a lot more efficient. They’ve also become more common, more cost-effective, and less bulky. (We joke that our solar panels make our garage look like a spaceship, but the reality is, most people don’t even notice them.)
Why We Installed Solar Panels
For us, the benefits of solar panels were clear. We care about the environment, and energy efficiency and sustainability are priorities for us. Plus, they can be a great investment, particularly in the Southeast.
For us, this solar panel project was going to be one part of a larger effort to remodel our home into a modern, sustainable way.
Even though we knew we wanted to explore solar energy options during this remodel, we weren’t sure if it was going to work out financially, or where to start.
That’s where RoI Energy comes in.
Our Solar Panel Installation Story
Rewind to summer 2020: we knew we wanted solar panels for our Charlotte, NC home remodeling project but we didn’t know who we could trust. Like a lot of homeowners, we found that online reviews painted an incomplete picture, so we decided to ask around.
That’s when a friend referred us to Skye McMahon and Walker Miller of RoI Energy. After our initial consultation, we were really impressed with the models they delivered. These models showed how much sun our roof was likely to get, and how much energy we could realistically expect to generate.
You can see two of my favorite snaps from the report below:
We also just really liked working with Skye and Walker (yes, really! How great are their names?). They’re good people.
A design blog about one couple’s journey to renovate a dated 60s split-level house into a European-inspired modern home in Charlotte, NC.