Created on 31 October 2014
One of the main reasons people tend to not get very excited about the prospect of installing a solar energy system to their home is their perception of the costs involved. The truth is, over the long term, a solar energy system will pay for itself
, and will actually generate you money in the form of lower utility bills, tax incentives, and selling back a proportion of the energy you produce but do not use to utilities companies.
How much you stand to make depends upon where in the US you live, how much sunshine you typically see, and how electricity costs you. Naturally, the more money you pay for your energy supply, the more money you will save when you switch to solar.
The costs involved depends upon what kind of system you install. You can even have solar panels installed for free by allowing a solar energy company to lease your roof space off you so they can install their panels there. They sell the electricity the panels generate back to you at a cost that's typically much lower than mains electricity, but you will not receive the tax breaks and long-term benefits available to you if you go down this route.
How much electricity do you use?
If you do buy your own panels, then you will need to buy enough to make your switch to solar worthwhile, and you make it worthwhile by calculating how much electricity you use. You really need 1 kW worth of solar panels for every $50 you pay in electricity every month, so if you pay $200 for your electricity per month, you are going to need a 4 kW solar panel system.
Each solar panel is worth around 250 to 300 W, so for a 2 kW system you will need eight panels, and for a 4 kW system, you will need sixteen. You will need to make sure you have sufficient roof space to install the system that you require.
Check out your options
As you may imagine, there are plenty of different manufacturers of solar panels
, all having different standards of the efficiency of the panels they produce, with different costs as well. When you come to install a solar system, unless you decide to do it yourself, the company you choose to perform an installation will provide the panels for you, and will advise you on your options.
A 4 kW solar panel system will cost you between $10,000 and $11,500 to install. If you want to up the juice a little bit, a 5 kW system will cost between $12,500 and £14,000 to install. Don't forget, it's not just the panels you are buying – there's the wiring into your home electricity system as well, plus the cost of the installation itself. You can find out more about the cost of a solar panel system at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/04/current-cost-solar-panels..
Typically, as soon as you have your system up and running, you will receive tax breaks in line with about 30 percent of the cost of your installation. Most solar panel systems pay for themselves within 8 to 10 years of installation via lower utility bills and tax breaks.
Don't forget, it's not just the financial cost you have to take into consideration – there's the continual cost in terms of damage to the environment if you continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels. Go solar
and you'll be saving the planet, as well as saving dollars.