How Do Home Solar Panels Work?

How Do Solar Panels Work for Your Home?

Here’s your solar power guide from SEM Power.

What are Solar Panels Made of?

We already know that solar panels are what we use to convert sunlight into usable electricity. Solar, or photovoltaic cells are on solar panels, and they are made primarily from silicon, a chemical element with conductive properties.

Exposure to light changes silicon’s electrical characteristics, which generates electrical energy. It takes multiple panels to provide power to a typical home or business.

A collection of panels in your system is called a solar array. Panels wired into the same inverter are known collectively as a string of panels. (Inverters have a maximum string size – an upper limit to the number of panels they can support.)

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

How Do Solar Panels Work for Your Home?

Here’s your solar power guide from SEM Power.

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

What are Solar Panels Made of?

How do they work?

We already know that solar panels are what we use to convert sunlight into usable electricity. Solar, or photovoltaic cells on a solar panel, are made primarily from silicon, a chemical element with conductive properties. Exposure to light changes silicon’s electrical characteristics, which generates electrical energy. It takes multiple panels to provide power to a typical home or business. A collection of panels in your system is called a solar array. Panels wired into the same inverter are known collectively as a string of panels. (Inverters have a maximum string size – an upper limit to the number of panels they can support.)

How do Solar Panels Convert the Sun’s Energy?

The silicon cells on solar panels catches the energetic photons and turns them into a flow of electrons. These electrons can be forced to flow around an electric circuit when combined with other electrical components. This process will produce electricity to power your home or business.

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How Much Sunlight is Required to Get the Highest Savings on a Solar Investment?

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

Two homeowners in different regions of the country can pay about equal prices for their solar installations. The homeowner in a sunnier climate will see their investment grow faster thanks to increased energy production.

Tampa has an average of 246 sunny days per year – it’s the 22nd sunniest city in the US! This makes it an excellent city for homeowners and business owners to save through professional solar panel installations with SEM Power.

Estimating Your Power Consumption

Each panel boasts a wattage rating, telling you how much power it can generate under ideal conditions. Efficiency also plays a role – higher efficiency means you get more power per panel size. So, how many panels do you need?

First, you need to do a few things:

Energy Audit: 

Dive into your past electric bills (like digging up buried treasure!). Look for your average monthly kilowatt-hour (kWh) usage. This number becomes your baseline – the starting point for figuring out how much solar juice you’ll need.

Appliance Inventory 

Take a headcount of your energy-guzzlers. Look at the wattage rating on each appliance (usually on a sticker or in the manual). Calculate their daily/weekly usage based on how often you use them. This helps prioritize which appliances you might want to upgrade to be more energy-efficient.

Self-Sufficiency Goals: 

How independent do you want to be from the grid? Do you aim for a total solar takeover, or are you happy with a sunny sidekick reducing your bill? Your desired level of self-sufficiency will influence the number of panels you need.

A rough estimate of energy usage to get solar panels

  • Average US home: Roughly 5-8 kW system, using panels around 300-350 watts each. This means you’d need about 15-25 panels to cover your basic needs.
  • Energy-efficient home: If you’ve already optimized your appliances, you might need fewer panels for similar power output.
  • Big energy demands: Homes with pools, electric cars, or large families might need a bigger system, pushing the panel count upwards.

Remember, these are just ballpark figures. Consulting a solar professional is crucial for getting a precise estimate based on your unique needs and local factors like sunshine hours.

How Much do Solar Panels Cost?

For decades, people have used solar panels to generate electricity. Solar technology can save you money on your electric bill in a number of ways.

The cost of solar panels in Florida varies depending on several factors including system size, equipment quality, and installation complexities. On average, the price for solar in Florida ranges from $2.53 to $3.43 per watt.

For a standard 6 kW system, this translates to a cost between $9,180 and $12,480 after applying the 30% federal solar tax credit. It’s important to note that these prices can vary widely based on individual circumstances. The long-term financial benefits often offset the initial investment, as solar panels can significantly reduce electricity bills and can increase property value.

Finally, lowering energy bills due to lower electric rates for those using renewable energies compared so traditional brownouts which result from peak hours. The great news is that Florida has one of the lowest average costs for solar panel systems in the U.S.

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

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What are the Parts of a Solar Energy System?

There are other key components to solar power systems aside from the panels themselves.
To generate your own energy, you need a complete solar power system. The essential solar technology components are:

  • Solar Panel, to capture light energy from the sun
  • A solar inverter, to convert that energy to a format like AC power that you use in your home
  • Racking, the foundation on which you mount your system

You also need a method to store the energy generated by the panels. If you have access to the power grid, this doesn’t require additional equipment. It can simply be fed into the utility grid and used later. SEM Power includes solar monitoring equipment for our customers to be able to actively view system performance and energy demand offset.

We strongly encourage our customers to add a battery system with any new solar installation to offset financial burden and to keep power available even when the grid is not in service.

How Does Solar Battery Storage Work?

Until this point in time we had only discussed one common type of solar in the U.S. Grid connected solar systems have been used extensively throughout history. This system operates without batteries. When the grid can be reached, as is usually the case for the majority of us, battery installation on solar systems is optional. But solar battery storage systems are increasingly becoming popular, as are flexible batteries such as the Tesla powerwall. These critical battery backup systems store your excess energy and turn on when the power goes out in order to keep your critical power systems running.

Of course, batteries come with their own considerations. The initial cost, size requirements, and maintenance needs are factors to weigh. But for those who crave true energy autonomy, a battery backup system can be a rewarding investment.

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

How Does Solar Battery Storage Work?

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

Until this point in time we had only discussed one common type of solar in the U.S. Grid connected solar systems have been used extensively throughout history. This system operates without batteries. When the grid can be reached, as is usually the case for the majority of us, battery installation on solar systems is optional. But solar battery storage systems are increasingly becoming popular, as are flexible batteries such as the Tesla powerwall. These critical battery backup systems store your excess energy and turn on when the power goes out in order to keep your critical power systems running.

Of course, batteries come with their own considerations. The initial cost, size requirements, and maintenance needs are factors to weigh. But for those who crave true energy autonomy, a battery backup system can be a rewarding investment.

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

Government Incentives: Sunshine Sweeteners

The good news is, your transition to solar doesn’t have to be a solo journey. Governments often offer sweet incentives to encourage solar adoption. These can include:

  • Tax credits: Reducing your federal tax burden while investing in clean energy? That’s a win-win!
  • Rebates: Lowering the upfront cost of installing solar panels can make the switch even more appealing.
  • Net metering: As mentioned earlier, sending your excess sunshine back to the grid can earn you credits or reduce your future bills – like the grid paying you for your generosity!

Remember: these incentives vary by region, so research what’s available in your area. There are many online resources and local government websites dedicated to helping you navigate the world of solar incentives.

Government Incentives: Sunshine Sweeteners

, How Do Home Solar Panels Work

The good news is, your transition to solar doesn’t have to be a solo journey. Governments often offer sweet incentives to encourage solar adoption. These can include:

  • Tax credits: Reducing your federal tax burden while investing in clean energy? That’s a win-win!
  • Rebates: Lowering the upfront cost of installing solar panels can make the switch even more appealing.
  • Net metering: As mentioned earlier, sending your excess sunshine back to the grid can earn you credits or reduce your future bills – like the grid paying you for your generosity!

Remember: these incentives vary by region, so research what’s available in your area. There are many online resources and local government websites dedicated to helping you navigate the world of solar incentives.

Taking the Next Step: Let’s Talk Tampa Sunshine!

Ready to turn your rooftop into a power-generating haven? Here at SEM Power (https://sempower.com/florida-home-solar-panels/), we’re passionate about empowering Florida homes with the magic of solar energy. We’re Tampa’s premier solar solutions provider, dedicated to guiding you every step of the way, from personalized consultations to seamless installation and ongoing support.

Why Choose SEM Power?

  • Expertise: Our team of solar professionals is here to answer all your questions and tailor a solar system that perfectly suits your energy needs and budget.
  • Quality: We work with industry-leading brands and technology to ensure your solar panels deliver reliable, long-lasting performance.
  • Community: We’re proud to be part of the Tampa Bay community, and we’re committed to helping build a more sustainable future for our region.

Ready to unleash the power of sunshine in your home? Contact SEM Power today for a free consultation and discover how we can help you make the switch to clean, affordable energy. Let’s power Tampa Bay, one rooftop at a time!

How Do Solar Panels Work for Your Home FAQ’s

What is the photovoltaic effect?

The photovoltaic effect is a phenomenon in which certain materials generate an electric current when exposed to light. This process is the basis of solar cell technology, where sunlight is converted into electricity. Photons from sunlight excite electrons in the material, creating an electric current.

What is the difference between AC power and DC Power?

AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current) refer to the flow of electric charge. The main difference is in the direction of the flow. AC power alternates the direction of the flow periodically, while DC power flows consistently in one direction. AC is commonly used for household electricity, while DC is often used in batteries and electronic devices.

What is an AC inverter?

An AC inverter, or simply an inverter, is a device that converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). This is commonly used in photovoltaic systems (solar power systems) to convert the DC electricity generated by solar panels into AC electricity suitable for use in homes and businesses.

What is a net metering system?

Net metering is a billing arrangement that allows owners of solar panels or other renewable energy systems to receive credit for the excess electricity they generate and feed back into the grid. The electric meter measures the difference between the electricity you consume and the electricity your system generates, and you may receive a credit or payment for any excess energy.

How to calculate your average monthly kilowatt-hour?

To calculate your average monthly kilowatt-hour usage, you can sum up the total kilowatt-hours consumed over a specified period (e.g., a year) and divide it by the number of months in that period. Calculator

To calculate your kWH per month or per year, just multiply by the number of days in that period. Example: Over the course of a 30-day month, your fan would use (1.25 kWh / day) x (30 days / month) = 37.5 kWh per month.

How much do solar panels save on your electric bill?

In the words of Nikola Tesla, “The question is not ‘how much can this save me?’ but rather how would my life be different without it?”

When considering investing in a solar panel system, remember that you are locking in your utility costs for the life of your system.

The cost of residential electricity has increased 30% over the last 10 years. As these rates continue to rise, so will the potential savings! Solar essentially helps to lock in your energy prices; protecting yourself from utility rate increases by generating your own power.

Solar panel systems generate energy that can last decades. While calculating your potential solar savings, it’s important to take into account both short term advantages (year 1) and long-term considerations such as life expectancy on each individual component in order to truly appreciate what these systems have done for consumers who now enjoy renewable pricing.

How long do solar energy systems last for?

A solar energy system built with high quality materials and proper construction techniques, that also receives proper maintenance, can last for 25 years or more. There will be some planned maintenance during the life of the system. SEM Power provides our residential customers with Solar Monitoring Solutions to track their home solar panel system performance.

For our commercial customers, our Solar Operations and Management Services, provides visibility to their system performance and solar energy production.

How much roof space do I need?

Our energy team will review your energy bills to evaluate how much solar you need and how much can be placed on your roof, land, or carport. A 500kW system requires approximately 50,000 square feet of roof.

Do I own the solar energy system?

Yes. Systems are purchased by the customer. SEM Power will work with you to determine the right financial approach to your new energy solution.

What are the typical warranty periods?

A solar project should include equipment warranties from the equipment manufacturers and workmanship warranties from SEM Power who does the installation.

What information is required to get an accurate solar quote?

Once you contact SEM Power and request a quote, we’ll need your address, where you plan to install solar (roof, ground mount, etc) and will need to see copies of the past 12 months energy bill. SEM Power will handle asking you all the questions needed to execute a successful solar project. Once we understand your goals, we will process the information necessary to design an energy solution that performs and meets your expectations.

How Do I Know If There's a Problem With My System?

Each system is able to send data to a monitoring platform that will be included with your solar system.

SEM Power’s Solar Operations and Management Service, offered outside of the standard installation package, monitors installed systems to detect long term and short-term changes in system production that might indicate a problem. The data helps us quickly diagnose the issue when scheduling a service call.

Customers can also track system production and set up system alerts on their mobile device.

How much system maintenance is needed?

Once a solar panel system is installed, we recommend that system be inspected on an annual basis. This will ensure any potential issues can proactively be mitigated saving the owner from lost production and more costly repairs if nothing is done. Your SEM Power professional can answer additional inquiries.

What are the ways to finance my solar / Battery storage project?

Solar and battery projects can be purchased directly outright or through our solar financing solutions.
SEM Power will work with you to determine which financial solution will work best to solve your energy needs.

What are the benefits of a Solar / Battery system to be purchased outright?

An outright capital investment will provide the greatest savings for a Solar and Battery storage system owner. The system owner can also utilize all the available tax credits. In Florida there is currently a federal investment tax credit (ITC) of 30% There are additional state, municipal, and tax incentives that your SEM Power professional will work with you to take advantage of. Our goal is focused on maximizing your financial benefit.

What is the deadline for the Federal Investment Tax Credit?

Thanks to the recent Inflation Reduction Act, the federal investment tax credit (ITC) is now worth 30% of the system value until 12/31/2032. After that, it is scheduled to decline in value over several years.

  • 12/31/2032: Credit is reduced from 30% to 26%
  • 12/31/2033: Credit is reduced from 26% to 22%

Now is the time to take advantage of Solar and Battery energy storage systems before valuable tax incentives disappear.

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