Solar panels for homes are a great way to go green, but are they right for you? There are many factors to consider. Let's look at the nuts and bolts first. The panels themselves are usually made of a series of thin silicon wafers that convert light into electricity. You have probably seen small solar cells used in calculators or outdoor lights. These small surfaces provide as much electricity as a battery or two would. To provide enough power to meet a significant percent of your home energy needs, you need a lot more area.

Modern solar panels convert 5 %- 18% of the solar energy that falls on them into electricity, and researchers are working on improving efficiency. Even so, small home units cover 120 square feet. Although you can hook up your panels to batteries, most people use a junction box to wire into their existing electrical system.. Some states require their power companies to buy any excess power you produce from you, allowing your electric meter to run backwards.

A typical installation of solar panels for the home may cost around $20,000. The cost can vary widely depending on your energy needs and your environment. A house in a hot climate that requires air conditioning will need a bigger system than one in a temperate climate. The amount of energy you can generate will also be determined by your climate. The more sun, the better. Local factors, such as how much shade you have and whether you can install the panels with a southern exposure also contribute to the size you will need.

After you determine how many panels you need, you can estimate your total cost. There is a federal tax credit available for 30% of the cost of your system, and many states have credits as well. Even with these credits, it will take many years to recover the cost of your system through decreased monthly energy bills. You can estimate the number of years by calculating how much your electric bill will decrease each month, but if energy rates continue to climb, you will get an even better return on your investment in solar. Many manufacturers guarantee their panels for 25 years, and installing a solar system will also increase the value of your home. With no moving parts, just about the only maintenance they need is an annual cleaning.

Also consider that you have other options than solar photovoltaic panels. A more aesthetically pleasing, although more expensive, option is solar shingles. They look just like regular shingles, so they don't detract from the look of your home. You can also purchase solar water heating panels to heat water for underfloor heating as well as for swimming pools and water for home use. Or you can incorporate passive solar design into your home's construction.

All in all, solar panels for homes can save most homeowners money in the long run. And they help our planet by reducing pollution and decreasing reliance on dwindling oil reserves.