Roof Installed Solar Cells: The Basics

Whenever the sun is out, your home’s roof top is subjected to solar energy. Why don’t you safety harness that power, lower your electricity bill and limit the quantity of CO2 gas you contribute to the natural environment on a daily basis? Depending on your geographical area, your roof’s alignment, plus the load your roof will be able to bear, installing photovoltaic cells (PVs) on the roof top could be a beneficial investment in boosting your household’s energy self-sufficiency.

* Exactly what are PVs and in what ways do they perform?

Particular elements like copper indium diselenide, crystalline and amorphous silicon and gallium arsenide produce electric power when they absorb light. This is known as the photoelectric effect. Solar cells are typically composed of a thin layer of such photosensitive material. Light striking the solar cell raises the energy level of the electrons inside. In an amplified energy state, the electrons are able to break free from their molecules and create an electric current. And, the best thing is that this alternative energy: solar power comes to us daily without cost.

* Just how can you tell if your roof structure is a solid candidate for solar cell placement?

Solar cells perform best when subjected to direct sunshine. If at all possible, you could set a group of solar cells on a motor-driven support that will track the path of the sun through the sky, but that is not often practical for a roof top. The next most sensible thing can be a rooftop mounting where the pitch has an unobstructed southern exposure. Depending on your latitude and the incline of the roof, the PV system installation technician may recommend improving the angle of the PV panels by having an raised mounting rack in order to capture more light.

You also need to be conscious of how many pounds your roof can tolerate. If your roof top has two layers of shingles, you probably shouldn’t add in solar energy panels to this load.

An alternative to residential solar panels may be a somewhat new product, “solar shingles”. They’re shingles into which PV solar cells have been incorporated. When your roof needs to be replaced anyhow, solar shingles offer the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

Lastly, PV solar cells lose performance as the temperature rises. In warmer climates, you could be better off looking at options like wind power. In locations like Florida and California, public utilities are taking solar thermal electric power plants online. These systems, though primarily viable just for power plants much bigger than a individual home, actually prove to be more beneficial and less expensive than PV products when it’s very warm.

* What components constitute a roof top installed Photovoltaic system?

Photovoltaic solar cells produce direct current, and may be hooked up in series to increase the resulting voltage. Although you can get particular appliances available that operate on Direct current, most PV systems distribute electrical energy by using an inverter. This device changes the solar cells’ direct current to traditional household alternating current. The output from the inverter will be incorporated into the home’s electrical system. Smaller solutions mostly add to power from the electric company, cutting your total bill.

Should you install a larger system to make your house very energy efficient, plus you may often have a nice surplus of electrical energy. You may either store this for later using batteries, or feed it directly into the electrical grid. If you feed your surplus back to the grid, the electric utility might actually buy from you. This is known as “net metering”, and it is what the law states in at least 35 states. It’s intended as an incentive to make use of *****alternative energy like solar. It is a good value for you, and it’s also a good deal for the utility company since your PV system is most likely to produce surplus electrical energy just when peak demand occurs. Your surplus generating Photovoltaic system had the ability to help avoid power black outs.

* How much does a Photovoltaic installation set you back?

While all this *****solar alternative energy is free, it takes equipment to transform it into useful energy. The initial cost of a roof top mounted solar panels can vary from $6,000 for a small supplementary installation to $30,000 if not more for a large “off-the-grid” installation. The investment cost of this type of home Photovoltaic system is rather fuzzy, though. It might be advisable to do a comparison of what you’re already paying out per kilowatt-hour to the amortized per kilowatt-hour cost for a Photovoltaic system. As reported by the U.S. DoE, that price is around $0.25 per kilowatt-hour. In the majority of locations, this can be in excess of what the utility companies charge.

That is the bad news.

The good thing is that we now have many state sponsored inducement programs regarding solar technology. Make the most of them, and you could very well break even. To get information regarding these kinds of programs, you should check with the National Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), prepared by the North Carolina Solar Center. The database covers inducement programs designed to increase the growth of alternative energy.

On top of that, the cost of the electrical energy your Photovoltaic system generates is protected from deregulation, rate increases, and inflation. Which means that amortized twenty-five cents per KWH cost will still be 25 cents 30 years from today. No one knows what the local electrical rate is going to be?

Plus there is additional excellent news. By going solar, you will be lowering the quantity of coal and natural gas burned at power plants, you will be reducing the amount of CO2 gas you send into the natural environment, and you are declaring your energy self-reliance.

Placing solar cells on the roof top is definitely an idea whose time has come. Locally produced solar electrical energy is viable, is sensible, and is also achievable by most homeowners.

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This post was written by editor on January 20, 2012

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