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Residential Solar Panels Becoming an Affordable, Eco-smart Option for Homeowners

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Building with solar panels on the roof in Northern Germany. Free use image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Building with solar panels on the roof in Northern Germany. Free use image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In 2013, China installed more solar panels than any country ever has, for a total of 12 gigawatts, which happens to also be the entire amount installed in the U.S. The UK is following suit, expecting 10 million homes with solar panels by 2020. Why the recent boom in solar panels and how can the average homeowner also benefit from this renewable source of energy?

Solar panels for homes work by converting sunlight into electricity for household use. A net meter then measures the power generated. Lifestyle Solar’s company website provides a useful flowchart illustrating the working parts the and process that occurs, from sunlight hitting the panels to the generation of usable power for the home. Homeowners also have the option to connect to the local power grid for extra power, and can feed excess power they’ve generated themselves back to the local power grid to assist local energy providers, something homeowners can actually be paid for in some states.

There are multiple benefits to solar energy, but many homeowners are deterred because of cost of installation, a factor that may no longer be such an issue. A recent Fox Business article discussed the decline in the cost of panels over the past decade. Though residential solar panels can still be pricey, the average cost has dropped 50 percent since 2010. Acquiring them for a house is cheaper and easier than ever.

Payment options include a lease similar to a car loan with a monthly statement, and a fully pre-paid loan with interest rates similar to a credit card. For tax purposes, though, buying is better and cheaper than a lease in the long run.

If homeowners can pay the initial installation cost, they are almost guaranteed free electricity after the “payback period” – the first 10 years of use, while they are likely still paying for the panels. Solar panels have a lifespan of 30 years and little to no maintenance, so after the payback period homeowners essentially enjoy free power for 20 years. There is also no worry of power outages, using too much electricity, or overdue power bills.

Besides the cost savings and convenience, the environmental benefits are hard to deny as solar power is a renewable resource unlike natural gas, coal or oil, and even the materials used in the panels are recyclable.

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About Alyssa Sellors

Alyssa Sellors is an English and Journalism educator as well as a freelance writer and journalist. She has been teaching for seven years and enjoys the challenges of teaching writing to high school students. She is a regular contributor to a number of publications and speaks at annual conferences on topics regarding scholastic journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband and two chihuahuas.
  • bliffle

    PV solar panels for partial home use and RV use have gone down from about $4/watt to $1.5/watt in just 10 years. Incidentally, that’s responsible for the failure of Solyndra (not the right technology and not the right goals) and other US companies that were not leaning forward enough and were hobbled by the past. Possibly, they were made timid by the idea that American power monopolies would protect them from foreign competition and fold the US PV companies into one big happy power monopoly (ala the way monopolies soon dominated the internet), but the Chinese blew that plan up. IMO the Chinese have a bigger monopoly play strategy, which involves monopolizing foreign PV production, installation and operation, and then knocking off US power monopolies whose entire production base will be thereby obviated. OBVIATED! That is, made unnecessary. Old US power monopolies will be vaporized almost overnight. The entire US power system, generation, fuel, distribution, grid and everything else will be replaced almost overnight by lightweight, fuel-free, modular systems that require lighter infrastructure and ultra-low maintenence.

    It will take an outside force like the Chinese to do it because the USA monopolies can not. They are rigidly restricted by their own internal profit maximization strategies. “We can’t cut our own throats!” Thus, someone else will have to deliver the coup d’ etat: enter the Chinese.

    Same thing happened in computers when traditional USA computer monopolies like IBM and DEC couldn’t bite the bullet and abandon their mainframe business for the CLEARLY ascendant micros.

    Luckily, the Apples and Dells that replaced them were US developed and built so we didn’t lose jobs and capital in the USA, but next time it will be different.

    When the USA power monopolies collapse in the face of hungry foreign competitors panic will result and possibly the biggest most chaotic worldwide depression in history. The interlocked Wall Street financial empire, which has spent a century gaining iron-fisted control over US industry and from there reached out to dominate foreign business will freeze up and shatter.

    They are only able to survive by controlling everything, and the primary instruments of control have been USA financial operations and the advanced US Military. They depend on blatant force because they are no longer viable competitors. Their very internal rules forbid competition, in the same way that mainframes never squared off against micros. Force is all they have. And they have it! We have seen that they can freely bribe and suborn politicians worldwide and that they can command armies to march to even the most remote corners of the map with legions of liars acting as facilitators.

    If you think the industrial collapse in Detroit was distressing when foreign autos replaced the “Big 3″, you aint seen nothing yet! The collapse of the US power industry will make Detroit look like kid stuff!

    And it won’t be constrained to a small area in Michigan. It will reach into every corner of the USA: everywhere the powerlines go! Everywhere powerlines go they will distribute economic destruction!

    The only way for the USA monopoly system to survive this would be to get out in front of it, to take over the leadership position and bring in the new era of power. But they’ve not done it before and they won’t do it now. They couldn’t do it with computers or autos and dozens of other industries.

    The bigger they come the harder they fall.

    Foreign powers will welcome this revolution because it will solve so many of their power problems at pennies on the dollar and pacify their restless peoples. It will be good fortune greater than cellphones, which solved historic communications problems.

    The rich and powerful who control the businesses, the finances and the armies of the USA cannot change their ways. All they can do is broker the collapse and fight rearguard wars as they personally retreat to their personal redoubts, for as long as they last.

    FINI

  • kurt brigliadora

    yes, I believe it is a good deal for both the homeowner and the environment.