Can We Squeeze the Solar Cost?
Can We Squeeze the Solar Cost?
by Boris M. Tashkent
If you are thinking of going green, solar panels might give you an interesting solution. Quietly they will convert sunlight into electricity, giving you DC voltage as the final output. For your home devices this voltage should be inverted to AC.
Converting DC voltage into AC will need some more additional solar parts. The way you want your system to be will determine what parts to purchase. Basically there are three different options you may choose. The first one is very popular due to its simplicity: it's called on-grid, meaning that the output of your photovoltaic panels will be sent to the utility grid for storing. People like this option because it is cheaper than other options.
Grid-tie is cheaper because we don't buy batteries to bank the solar electricity. The expensive part to purchase is solar inverter only. By eliminating the batteries from our system we have save some money. Solar batteries are different from vehicle batteries and they are expensive. This option however will not give you electricity during power outages.
If you need power during electricity blackout you can pick up the second option. Similar to the first option the solar electricity is also routed to the grid but a battery backup is added to the solar inverter. Note that this system is more expensive because you need to buy the solar controller, solar batteries and also solar inverter that is different from the inverter we use in the first option. They contribute a significant increase to the solar cost.
For people living in remote places where no utility lines available or for a green energy die hard there is one solution that give you a fully independent electricity system called off-grid. You will have to buy the solar controller, solar batteries and solar inverter which is different from the first two inverters above. Other small accessories such as connectors, wiring, etc. are also need to be added to the list, same as the two option above. To have a better power coverage you may want to integrate a gas generator or wind turbines to the system in case of sun outages or cloudy days.
Having these figures above we can safely estimate about $20,000 - $60,000 is needed to start your home solar project. This cost is greatly varied and depends on how big you want to have your solar system to be. Voting for a full solar electricity system is not a good idea because the cost will jump high.
There are at least two other factors determining the solar cost. One is the quality of solar parts and the other is the solar installation cost. Solar inverters quality for example varies greatly leading to different prices. Solar installation companies have different prices as well.
How can we minimize the cost? First thanks to the US govt. policy you are entitled to 30% federal tax incentive and other local tax rebates. You can also save some money with the help of the net metering which credits you if you send your solar electricity to the grid.
Because a full electricity substitution is very expensive you can start with making 15% of the electricity needed. You might be thinking that this number is too small but it will make a difference in the long run. You can upgrade your solar generator anytime once you have enough budget.
Many people think that we spend a one time investment only for home solar system which is paid up front, however this is not completely true. Solar panels are known to have very long lifespan, can be more than 20 years but other parts such as batteries and inverters have shorter lifespan so you will need to put them in your cost calculation as well.
The best way to determine your solar cost is by contacting some solar companies. They can give you great advice based on what information you feed them.
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Make sure you visit solarcost.org to find more tips about solar homes and other useful articles related to the solar electricity application.
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