Beginner’s Guide to Home Solar Panels


Alright, so let’s talk about the next great thing since the lemonade stands in your front yard – home solar panels. Those sparkly, electricity-making, money-saving babies are hatching on all sorts of roofs these days, and if you’ve got questions about the craze, you’ve got to me. I’m here to tell you that this article is going to get you up to speed on residential solar panels without any geek-speak.

Why Should You Go Solar?

First off, why the heck should you bother with solar panels? There are really only a couple of reasons:

Money Savings

Most people like to save a little money. Solar panels will lower your electric bill. In the long run – like a tucked away piggy bank – you will see those savings pile up.


Solar energy equals less fuel consumption. High-five, Mother Nature.

Be Independent

Have you ever experienced a power outage? If you had solar panels and a battery store, you’d be enjoying your lamps while the neighbors were looking for their flashlights.

Boost Resale Value

Houses with solar panels installed tend to sell at a higher price. Consider it an investment that pays for itself and looks good while it’s at it.

What Do Solar Panels Actually Do?

Okay, this is where it gets geeky, but don’t worry. Solar panels are comprised of lots of little tiny things called photovoltaic, or PV, cells. Sunlight hitting on PV cells generates an electric field. Like when you lay out on a beach or by a pool, except you’re generating electricity instead of getting burnt.

These PV cells take the sunlight and turn it into direct current, or DC, electricity. Your house, like most houses, uses alternating current, or AC, electricity, so the DC is transformed into AC electricity by a device called an inverter. And just like that, you’ve got electricity!

Solar Panel Types

There are several choices for you here, like pizza toppings:

  • Monocrystalline Panels: The works are delicious and have high long-term performance but are expensive.
  • Polycrystalline Panels: Just the basics – still tasty, lower price, but lower short-term performance.
  • Thin-Film Panels: The weird stuff – flexible, easy to handle, but overall lower efficiency.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so just choose what works best for you and your pockets.

The Process

So you’re interested in getting solar panels for home use. Congratulations! Here’s what the process looks like in brief:

  1. Assessment: The solar provider you’ve hired will assess your roof and energy needs. Factors include roof condition and orientation and solar exposure, to name a few.
  2. Design: In the next stage, they’ll craft a design specific to your needs. It’s like a custom-fitted suit but for your roof.
  3. Permitting and Documentation: Time for a little paperwork. The solar provider will handle permitting and documentation. Just sign on the dotted line. Or 2. Or 3.

Pricing and Financial Options

Enough with the small talk. How much is this going to cost? The price of solar varies based on many factors, including system size, location, and panel type. On average, expect to pay between roughly £7,800 – £23,000 before any incentives.

Don’t have a panic attack. There are options to help soften the blow:

  • Tax Credits: The federal government offers a solar investment tax credit (ITC), which reduces a significant portion of the system cost.
  • State Incentives: Select states have their own incentives as well.
  • Solar Loans: Many banks and companies offer loans specifically for solar installations. You pay it off over time, often with your energy savings.
  • Leases and PPAs: Some companies offer solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs). You don’t own the panels, but you pay a fixed rate for the electricity they generate, usually less than your current bill.

Maintenance and Longevity

Great news – solar panels require very little maintenance. After they’re installed and up and running, you can pretty much just leave them be. Check them every once in a while for debris or dirt that could accumulate on the panels and inhibit their ability to gather sunlight. A spritz from a hose every couple of weeks should keep everything in working order.

If you reside in a location that gets lots of snow, you’ll likely need to brush the panels when heavy snows pile up. Most systems are equipped with apps that monitor their performance so you can check your numbers from your phone.

Now longevity. Most solar panels are guaranteed for 25 years, but they often last much longer. Their efficiency may decrease slightly as the years go by, but they’ll keep producing energy for a very long time.

Popular Myths About Solar Panels

There’s a lot of false information circulating, so here’s a few popular myths:

“Solar Panels Need Sunlight to Work”

They work best when they’re in direct sunlight, but they’ll still produce energy on cloudy days. Just like when you’re laying out at the beach on a cloudy day – you may not see the sun, but it’s still there working on your tan.

“Solar Panels Will Ruin My Roof”

They actually help protect your roof by keeping it sheltered from the elements. Plus, installers are professionals who know how to install without damage.

“Solar Energy is Costly”

Yes, the initial investment is pricey, but incentives and the money saved on your energy bill will have them paying for themselves in no time.

“Solar Panels are High Maintenance”

Nope. They’re pretty much install-and-forget. A little bit of brushing and monitoring are really all they need.

How to Select a Solar Installer

This is perhaps the most important step. Here’s a quick list to consider when you’re shopping around:Image3

  • Experience and Reputation: Are they established? Do they have good reviews?
  • Licenses and Certifications: Are they licensed and certified by the necessary organizations?
  • Warranties and Guarantees: What kinds of warranties and guarantees are extended to their products and labor?
  • Customer Service: This is essential. You want someone who’s going to answer your questions and work with you if any problems arise.

What Does The Future Hold For Solar?

The technology is only improving. Panels are getting more powerful, and solar tiles are starting to hit the market, eliminating the ugly solar panel look for roofs. Battery backup is getting better and cheaper, and self-consumption is getting easier than ever to store those excess electrons for nighttime.

Within the next few years, much more efficient (and cheaper) solar panels will be accessible to everyone, making this a reality for the world. Imagine if every household had solar – we’d be building a better, cleaner world.


So there you have it folks – residential solar panels. It’s not too complex, but it still requires a bit of knowledge to get started. Hopefully you have a good grasp of why solar panels make sense, how the process goes, what to expect from an installation, and what the costs and maintenance is going to be like.



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