10 Surprising Facts About Residential Solar Energy

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In the march towards net-zero and environmental sustainability, residential solar has emerged as a solid alternative to the current fossil fuels situation. Solar power adoption is transforming how we power our homes, offering a means to reduce our carbon footprint and substantial financial benefits.

Today’s article explores the truly incredible facts about residential solar. From its historical roots to cutting-edge advancements, we’ll explore how solar power has emerged as a critical component in today’s energy mix, offering homeowners a pathway to energy independence and a greener, more sustainable future.

A brief overview of the highlights:

  • Solar panels can generate electricity even on cloudy days.
  • The cost of solar panels has decreased by over 80% in the past decade.
  • You can sell excess solar energy back to the grid in many places.
  • Solar panels can last for 25 years or more.
  • Installing solar panels can increase the value of your home by up to 4.1%.

Let’s get down to it.

1. The Sun is a Powerhouse

residential solar facts - what you need to know

The Sun is the most abundant source of energy on Earth. In just one hour, the Sun sends enough energy to Earth to power the entire planet for a whole year! That’s the equivalent of 173,000 terawatts, more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy consumption.

This means the Sun is offering us a virtually limitless clean, renewable energy source. And all we have to do is tap it.

2. Solar Power is Old but Gold

Solar power is one of the oldest energy technologies known to humankind. It dates back to the 7th century B.C. when ancient Greeks and Romans used magnifying glasses to concentrate the sun’s rays to start fires.

In the centuries since, solar technology has advanced significantly. In 1839, French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect, which is the principle behind solar cells. The first solar cell was invented in 1883 by American inventor Charles Fritts.

Solar power has been used to power satellites in space since the 1950s, and it has become increasingly popular for terrestrial applications in recent years.

Today, solar power is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. In 2022, solar power accounted for nearly 5% of global electricity generation. And this number is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.

Electricity generation by fuel source 2022

3. Solar Energy Saves or Earns You Moolah

Installing solar panels isn’t just about saving the planet; it’s also about saving your wallet. On average, homeowners can expect to see their electricity bills slashed by 50-75%. Cha-ching!

In addition to slashing your utility bills, solar panels can make you money in other ways. For example, many states offer net metering programs, which allow solar owners to sell excess solar energy back to the grid at a retail rate. This can further reduce your electricity costs or even generate a profit.

Solar owners can also make money through solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs). SRECs are tradable certificates that are awarded to solar owners for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of solar energy they generate. SRECs can be sold to energy utilities, which are required to purchase a certain number of SRECs each year to meet their renewable energy goals.

4. The Magic Number of Panels

Ever wondered how many solar panels it takes to power the average household? The answer: about 20-24 panels. Of course, it can vary based on your location, energy consumption, and panel efficiency, but that’s a solid ballpark figure.

5. Solar is a Silent Hero

One of the most appealing aspects of solar energy is its silence. Solar panels generate electricity without any moving parts or combustion, making them completely silent. This makes solar power an ideal choice for residential and commercial applications in noise-sensitive areas, such as schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods.

In addition to being silent, solar energy is also clean and renewable. It does not produce any air pollution or greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. This makes solar energy a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to generate electricity.

6. Built to last

residential solar panel installation

Solar panels are built to last. Most have a lifespan of 25-30 years, and some high-quality panels can last for up to 40 years. This means that you can expect to enjoy the benefits of solar energy for many years after you invest in a solar panel system.

Solar panels are made from durable materials, such as tempered glass and anodized aluminum. They are also designed to withstand a variety of weather conditions, including high winds, hail, and snow.

In addition to being durable, solar panels are also low-maintenance. They do not require any moving parts or fluids, so there is very little that can go wrong with them. This makes them a very reliable source of energy.

7. Uncle Sam Loves Solar Energy

The US government offers a federal tax credit for solar installations, which can cover up to 30% of the cost of your system. This tax credit is available to both homeowners and businesses. In fact, you can claim it on your federal income taxes.

The solar tax credit is a great way to reduce the upfront cost of installing solar panels and makes solar more affordable and attractive for everyone. In addition to the federal tax credit, many states and local governments also offer their own solar incentives.

That’s some serious green back in your pocket!

8. Solar Energy in Cloudy and Dark Places

Intriguingly, solar panels continue to be a dependable source of energy even when the skies are overcast. While it’s true that their efficiency may not match the brilliance of a sunny day, they remain functional during cloudy weather, capturing a substantial amount of energy.

This remarkable adaptability ensures that your panels still contribute to your energy needs, dispelling concerns about weather-induced energy shortages.

New developments in solar energy technology are making solar panels more efficient and even capable of generating electricity at night. 

For example, researchers at Stanford University have developed a new type of solar panel that can generate electricity from infrared light. This means that these solar panels could generate electricity even on cloudy days and at night.

9. Solar Shingles Blend In

solar technology solar shingles

The evolution of solar technology has given rise to a game-changing innovation – solar shingles. These remarkable roofing materials efficiently harness solar energy and seamlessly integrate into your roof’s design, preserving your home’s aesthetic appeal.

This innovative approach not only maximizes energy generation but also enhances your property’s curb appeal, making it a win-win solution for homeowners looking to embrace solar power without compromising on style. 

But, there’s more: solar shingles can potentially increase your home’s value. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that solar shingles can increase the value of a home by up to 4.1%.

Solar shingles are made from the same materials as regular roof shingles, such as asphalt or slate, and come in various colors and styles.

They are also a low-maintenance roofing solution, with a lifespan of 25-30 years backed by a warranty.

10. Grid Independence with Solar

By installing solar panels, homeowners can significantly reduce their dependence on the conventional power grid. For those seeking true energy autonomy, it’s entirely possible to disconnect from the grid entirely, relying solely on solar-generated power

This shift toward grid independence not only provides resilience during grid outages but also contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Conclusion

Residential solar energy isn’t just a power source; it’s a pathway to a greener, more sustainable future. With these 10 surprising facts in mind, it’s clear that solar energy is not only an eco-conscious choice but also a practical, cost-effective solution that empowers homeowners to take charge of their energy needs while minimizing their environmental footprint.

  • Simon Elstad

    As assistant editor at Greener Ideal, Simon champions clean energy, mobility, tech and the environment. He’s passionate about uncovering innovative solutions that power a sustainable future. When he's not dissecting envirotech data, you can find him exploring nature, actively supporting wildlife & environmental conservation efforts.

    Contact: [email protected]

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