Gigawatts upon gigawatts of clean, green solar capacity is being churned out by high-tech factories all around the world. But how are solar panels actually made? Join us now on a sun-seeking sojourn as we look inside a solar panel factory.
Last month the Indian government announced it had reached the psychologically important milestone of 100 gigawatts in nationwide renewable energy capacity. India, eager to develop its renewable infrastructure, may yet reach its ambitious target of 175 gigawatts on-stream in the year 2022, and 450 GW overall renewable energy capacity by the close of this decade.
To do that, Indians will need to make solar panels. Lots of them. Vikram Solar is one of a few big players in the field vying for a slice of this lucrative growing market. And Vikram recently expanded its own capacity by a not-insignificant 1.3GW through the opening of its new 130,000 square feet plant in Oragadam, Tamil Nadu. So let’s see what goes down inside. Solar panels, also called solar modules, are made up of a number of individual solar cells.
These cells can trace their origins back to simple silica sand, from which silicon is extracted. Silicon is the second-most-abundant element found in the earth’s crust by the way. So we’re not likely to run out any time soon.
Cooked at 2,000 degrees Celsius in a furnace along with a source of carbon, the raw element is then cooled to create metallurgical grade silicon. This is usually liquified again in order to remove remaining impurities.
It’s then blended with a pinch of boron and a dash of phosphorus, molded into ingots then sliced into tiny wafers less than 0.2mm thick. These wafers are then coated with silicon nitride and roughed up a bit to create texture and reduce reflectivity – any light that bounces off a solar panel is wasted, of course.
A silver paste is then applied to the front and rear surface and, pretty much, that’s your solar cell. At Vikram Solar’s new Tamil Nadu facility, these incoming cells are visually inspected to find any obvious cracks or breakages.
Cracks in the solar cells render them useless for large modular applications like solar panels. But more often than not, smaller sections of solar cell can be cut away and used for smaller, less intensive off-grid applications, like solar powered toys.
After this manual visual inspection, the first of several tests under blasts of artificial sunlight, to check they work, is undertaken. Then a hydraulic conveyor system introduces a layer of EVA – that stands for Ethylene-vinyl acetate – to a flat pane of tempered glass.
This EVA layer serves as an adhesive to hold fast the rows of solar cells that are automatically laid on the pane in a careful tile pattern, by this six-axis robot arm that can move 12 cells at once.
The cells are connected to each other, and ultimately the grid, via a criss-cross pattern of narrow metal ‘fingers’ and fatter ‘busbars’ . These carry electrons generated from the activated cells to the tab wires and beyond, to whatever the panel will ultimately power.
Engineers looking to maximize efficiency of solar cells have debated whether its better having more busbars – conventional wisdom says 5 is a good upper limit – because resistance is lowered, although the additional hardware inevitably shades parts of the solar cell.
More fingers and busbars can also mitigate the risk of micro cracks appearing in the cell, or at least prevent cracks spreading too far across the cell. Once all the cells are in place, another layer of EVA is laid over the panel and an additional backsheet is added to encapsulate the cells and internal wiring.
The next stage is called ‘pre-lamination electroluminescence’. Exploiting one curious property of photovoltaic cells – that they light up whenever a current is passed through them – inspectors can look even closer for microcracks that might render the final panel inefficient or at worse useless.
All they need to do is identify the dark spots. These microcracks, incidentally, can creep in at any stage of the process. Silicon wafers are notoriously brittle, and mishaps during the manufacturing or transportation phase are common.
Wild fluctuations in ambient temperature can also cause irreversible damage. After this pre-lamination electroluminescence phase comes – you guessed it – lamination. An industrial laminator applies heat and vacuum pressure to the ‘sandwich’ of glass, EVA, solar cells and wires, bonding everything together in a taut, weatherproof panel.
Following this stage, circuit ribbons are attached to the edges, and an aluminum frame placed around the edge. This aluminum frame offers the panel sturdiness, which helps prevent nasty cracks.
These frames also make the panels much easier to handle and store, as well as offering some resistance to the day-to-day mechanical loads the panel will be subjected to, like heavy snow or gale-force winds.
Another electroluminescence test follows, and the installation of a so-called ‘junction box’ on the backside of the module using strong silicone adhesive. This junction box serves not only as the collector of electricity, but its diodes ensure power only ever flows in one direction.
This is important, because solar panels by their very nature generate differing and unpredictable amounts of electricity throughout their working lives. Final testing looks for weaknesses in the panel’s weatherproofing.
Next, the completed panel is subjected to a final blast of artificial sunlight. And now our panel is ready to ship. Vikram Solar’s shiny new Tamil Nadu facility is part of a wider drive within India to achieve what prime minister Narendra Modi has called his ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.
As Vikram Solar’s managing director Gyanesh Chaudhary puts it. ‘This is an extension of our endeavor to provide high quality, reliable, technologically superior products and timely delivery to our customers.
It will further contribute as an R&D platform for next-gen module technology’. Talk about sunny optimism. What do you think? Is solar still exciting? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe for more utterly illuminating tech content.
Welcome to the solar energy channel where you will get an honest inside look at all things solar. So in this video, we’re going to dive into the pros and cons of solar leases.
I’m Charles. And I’m Warren. So Warren help us understand what are solar leases. Sure, so solar leases take on a variety of different forms.
Sometimes they’re called power purchase agreements and sometimes they’re leases but either way structured slightly differently but they are where another company or entity owns the solar system and you basically rent or you pay for the electricity that’s produced from those systems.
So one of the pros of that is then that I don’t have to lay out the cash to buy the solar array. – Correct. The great thing about solar leases is that you don’t have to come up with an upfront investment.
Somebody else is going to pay for the solar on your roof. And another approach to that is that they’re also responsible for the maintenance and the insurance of that solar array, while you should still have insurance on your property to cover you, the company who owns or installs that a solar system for you is going to maintain it and insure it as well.
Yep, so there certainly are some cons though, to giving up that right of ownership. And one of those is you do not get the incentives. Yes, so over the long-term, you’re better off owning the system from a financial perspective.
However, if you’re not in a situation to invest or to buy solar, you might be able to save money from the get-go. One of the great things about leases is that many of them offer you an introductory rate that is lower than what you’re currently paying for electricity.
Yeah the reality of that is if you look as a industry standard on the lease, we are seeing 3 to 4% inflation rates on that lease rate over the life of the lease, which may be 10, 15 and 20 years. – And that’s the true trap with leases is that you’ve got to look for, is what is that escalator? You might be starting off with the slightly lower introductory rate, but it’s going to increase at 3 or 4% a year.
And then in five or 10 years from now, you might be paying more for your solar than you would have had you stayed with your utility company. Yep, so the thing again you want to look for is what is that inflation rate per kilowatt hour year over year? Because you do not want to be spending more in 10, 15, 20 years than you would need to, if you were purchasing your power from the utility.
Absolutely and there’s another very important point that you need to be aware of with solar leases is that if you want to sell your home or your property, you need to find a buyer that’s willing to assume that lease.
And so realtors might find that to be a burden or a liability on the sale because you got to find a very specific buyer for that property. And the reality is if you have a lease and you want to move, you’re not going to take that solar array with you and keep paying your lease payment and put it on the new property.
The leasing company is not going to want to pay, to remove and reinstall it. Absolutely, and it’s usually cost prohibitive and they won’t let you get out of those contracts. But if you’d like to learn more about the real estate side of things, we do have additional videos and blogs on that.
So in summary, if you’re looking to save the most amount of money over time, buying your own solar project is going to be the best way to go. However, if you do not have the money to make that purchase, a solar lease could be a good option for you.
You do want to, however, make sure that you’re aware of those pitfalls that we discussed in this video. – Thanks for watching. If you enjoy this information, be sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel for future releases.
So how should a business pay for a solar investments? – Yeah, well, the first way and the most easiest way is to use cash, but there are some things to consider before you dial out your cash. Number one, do you have cash? And number two, what else could you do with that cash that might have a better return than investing in solar? – Yeah, so the reality, if you have cash, great, there is also the conventional loan where you could borrow and depending on your interest rate, and your return on investment, it may make a lot of sense to borrow that money because you can take your savings, your electric bill that you would have owed to the utility, and you can use that now to pay off your loan.
Correct, and if you’re a business, you’re gonna be essentially eliminating, or dramatically reducing an expense to pay off the debt service that you have on that loan. – Yeah, so you can pay with cash, you can get a conventional loan.
Another option is a lease, there’s two types of leases. One is a capital lease and the other is an operating lease. – Absolutely, and those are primarily for businesses, the capital and operating leases, and we suggest that you seek the advice on your accountant for what makes more sense for you and your business.
Yeah, the capital lease is where you actually own it’s, you can almost consider a traditional loan. – Correct. – Couched in the form of a lease, or an operating lease is you actually do not hold title to, you do not actually own the equipment, but at the end of the lease term, you do get the title.
You do own the system. – And typically the distinction there is that with the capital leases, you get the benefits that come with owning the tax credits, etc. With the operating leases, you do not. So, in most environments, capital leases make more sense for businesses and operating leases make more sense for nonprofit entities.
Yeah, and then another way that you can invest in solar and pay for that investment is through a PPA. And a PPA stands for Power Purchase Agreement. And what that is is a third party will actually own and operate and maintain the system.
So let’s say you have a nonprofit and they do not want to
get a traditional loan, or they do not have the cash. They can get solar through
a Power Purchase Agreement where someone will buy the solar, maybe an investor, someone
close to the entity.
They will sell the power to that nonprofit or to that end user, and in that way they can still benefit from solar. – Sure, and PPAs aren’t necessarily just for nonprofits, they work well for nonprofits, but for profit businesses can explore PPAs as well if they don’t wanna the capital necessary to install solar.
But the person who would get the incentives would be the owner of the system, not necessarily the ones who take it. – Correct, a business that would sign up for a PPA would see a reduction in their kilowatt hour costs or their cost of energy, but they would not take advantage of any of the incentives that come along with it.
So in summary, there’s really four great ways to pay for solar, either with cash if you have that available, taken out a conventional loan, taking out a lease either a capital operating lease depending on your situation or a power purchase agreement.
Thanks for watching, if you enjoyed this information, be sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel for future releases.
Both options are similar to renting. With a solar lease, you pay a monthly fee for the system and get to use all the electricity the solar panels produce – for free. With a PPA you agree to purchase the electricity the system generates at prices that are lower than what you would pay your utility.
Most leases and PPAs have $0 down options
so you won’t pay anything upfront. Your monthly payments for a lease or PPA is
usually less than your current electric bill so you begin saving right away. A solar lease or PPA will help you to save
10%-50% over your utility’s electricity bills, without making any upfront investment.
And, over time, as electricity prices continue to rise, your savings will continue to grow. Although solar panel systems require little to no maintenance, if something were to happen, the lease or PPA company would be responsible for any repairs since it is the owner of the system.
Securing a lease takes less time and effort than securing a loan. Generally, you sign a 20 year contract with the leasing company and they will install the panels at your home. You will need to have a credit score of more than 700 to qualify for a solar lease or PPA.
Today, these options are only available in a limited number of states. Where they are not available, you always have the option to get a solar loan. Since the leasing company owns the solar panel system, many of its financial benefits – things like rebates, tax credits and incentives – would go to them.
They are also a good option if your tax bill
is less than the tax credit you would receive. If you decide to sell your home before the
end of the contract period, you can do one of two things. Option 1: You can work with the new buyer
and the lease or PPA company to have him or her assume the remainder of the contract.
In this instance, the company would verify
the buyer’s credit worthiness, but this is generally not an issue since they already
needed to qualify for the mortgage used to purchase the home. Option 2: you can buy the system from the
lease company at fair market value and then include it in the price of your home at the
time of sale.
Now that you understand your options, you’ll need to choose the one that’s best for you.
We have a world population expected to grow by 1.2 billion people within 15 years, coupled with a growing demand for meat, eggs and dairy, which soak up over 70% of fresh water for crops, plus electricity demand that’s growing even faster than population growth … what are we supposed to do about all of that? Well, we can combine two of my favorite things: technology and food.
Both of which I’ve been accused of having too much of. But, could combining solar panels plus farming be a viable solution to all of those problems? Let’s take a closer look at electrifying our crops … not literally electrifying crops … never mind … let’s take a closer look at adding solar to our farm land as well as some of the side benefits … and challenges … it creates.
Solar parks in rural areas have been around for almost two decades. The major problem with this type of solar installation is that the ground beneath the panels can’t be used, mainly due to the small spaces between the rows of panels which aren’t large enough for modern farming equipment to pass through.
It is possible to convert a typical solar park into dual land use when it’s designated as a living area for grazing by small livestock like chicken, geese, and sheep, as well as for beekeeping.
These animals are beneficial to solar farms because they reduce the cost of maintaining vegetation growth and don’t introduce any risk to the panels themselves. The same can’t be said of something a bit larger like pigs, goats, horses, or cattle … it’s a known fact that cattle hate solar panels.
When more space is allowed in between the solar panel rows, crops can be grown there. However, the space beneath the panels still isn’t usable and needs to be maintained. This is considered alternating land use instead of dual land use because there are areas of the land that are one or the other, not both solar and crops at the same time. The land between the rows will be shaded during some hours of the day, meaning you’re altering the characteristics of the land and the types of crops that can be grown.
So what if we started to go vertical with our solar panels? That’s where we start to get some interesting alternatives to standard ground mounted solar park style installations. Using vertically mounted bifacial modules allows for more arable land.
And if you don’t know what bifacial solar panels are, they can collect solar energy from both sides of the panel. This type of installation would work particularly well in areas that suffer from wind erosion, since the structures reduce wind speeds which can help protect the land and crops grown there.
The bifacial panels also can generate more power per square meter than traditional single faced panels and don’t require any moving parts. Then there’s also the option of mounting panels on stilts, which allows farming machinery to pass underneath.
In this design you have to maintain a certain clearance between rows to protect the stilts from the machinery, so there is a modest arable land surface loss … usually 3-10%. Many variations on this theme are currently under active research.
Instead of fixed panel mounting, panels can be mounted with actuators, allowing the panels to tilt in one or two directions, which allows for both solar energy and plant growth optimization.
This can be particularly important during the initial stages of growth for some crops. But what about growing crops … UNDER … the elevated panels? You’d think that solar panels casting shade on plants would be a bad thing, but the way photosynthesis works makes things interesting.
Plants grow their mass out of CO2 with the help of sunlight. They literally are growing from the air … BUT … not all available sunlight can be converted into biomass. After a certain threshold, which is called the light saturation point, plants can’t absorb any more energy, so they need to get rid of that excess energy by evaporating water.
If we oversimplify this, we can divide the plants into two groups: “I’ll have my light supersized” plants and “can I order my light off the kids menu” plants. That group, the so-called shade plants, are particularly useful in combination with solar panels, since the panels obviously block some of the available sunlight.
Now sun plants are sometimes referred to as shade-intolerant plants, which makes them sound like jerks. This is a slight misnomer, since these plants just require more sunlight than shade plants but can also suffer from too much sunlight.
When any plant reaches their threshold, they can suffer from ‘sunburn’ and heat stress, just like me, causing increased amounts of water evaporation … just like me. According to a report from the German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy, nearly all crops can be cultivated under solar panels, but there may be some yield loss during the less sunny seasons for sun hungry plants.
In the RESOLA project conducted between 2016 and 2018 in the German area of Lake Constance or the Bodensee as the Germans call it, they demonstrated that during a relatively ‘wet and cold’ year in 2016 APV-crop yields were 25% less than the non-solar reference field, but in the ‘dry and hot’ years of 2017 and 2018 the APV-crops yields exceeded the reference field.
That’s a sign that APV could be a game changer in hot and arid regions. The amount of experience with agrivoltaics is still fairly limited and the big successes have been mainly with shade tolerant crops like lettuce, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Which leads us to some of the super promising examples that make a compelling case for agrivoltaics. But before I get to that, I want to give a quick shout out to today’s sponsor … me! Seriously though, be sure to check out my follow up podcast based on your feedback and comments on these videos, Still To Be Determined, which you can find on all the major podcast services out there or at stilltbd.fm, as well as a video version here on YouTube. I’ll put all the links in the description. It’s a fun way to continue the discussion on these topics. Let’s switch over to The Netherlands. Tiny as it is, it is the second largest exporter of food in the world! The company “GroenLeven”, a subsidiary of the BayWa group, which is headquartered in Munich Germany, has started several pilot projects with local fruit farmers.
Their largest site is in the village of Babberich in the east of the Netherlands, close to the German border, at a large 4 hectare raspberry farm, which is about 10 acres for those of us not on metric.
They’ve converted 3 hectares into a 2 MW agrivoltaics farm. The remaining part was left in a traditional farming setup. Raspberries are a fragile, shade tolerant fruit that’s typically grown in rows covered with plastic to help protect them from the elements and ensure high yields.
In this project the raspberry plants are grown directly under the solar panels, which have been placed in alternating rows facing east and west. This maximizes solar yield, but also protects the plants from the prevailing winds.
They did test traditional solar panels in this project, but they took away too much of the available sunlight, so they switched to panels with a larger spacing between the solar cells to let more light through.
The amount and quality of the fruit produced under the panels was the same or better as the fruit produced under the traditional plastic tunnels. One big benefit for the farmer was the amount of work saved from managing the plastic tunnels, which are easily damaged by hail and summer storms.
In those cases fruits may become unsellable from the damage, but they still have to be harvested anyway. During the last summer storms, the fruits under the panels didn’t sustain any damage, while the harvest from the reference field was destroyed.
Another major difference between the agrivolatic test field and reference field: the temperature was several degrees cooler under the solar panels. Not only is it more pleasant for the farm workers, but it also reduced the amount of irrigation water by 50% compared to the reference field.
Even cooler is how the crops affect the solar panels. The crops and their limited water evaporation actually keep the panels cool. Solar panels actually don’t like to be hot, since it reduces their energy efficiency; the cooler a panel can be, the more energy it will provide.
And with the added benefits in reduced water consumption, agrivoltaics can also be a game changer in hot and arid regions of the world. So what’s keeping us from rolling out this dual-purpose, game-changing system at a massive scale? What’s the catch? Energy production is a different ball game from agriculture, which can slow down farmers from embracing the technology.
But the actual obstacles are sadly … mundane … and some frustrating. It boils down to the the not-in-my-backyard effect (NIMBY), bureaucracy, and the free market. So let’s start with the NIMBY crowd.
Not all renewable energy solutions are receiving a warm reception. Prime example is obviously the sight and sounds of a giant wind turbine in the vicinity of your home. Community pushback from the residents of Reno County in Kansas killed a proposed NextEra Energy Inc. wind farm. Also in agriculture, there are examples where current laws enabled building giant biogas plants that weren’t always welcomed by the local communities. No matter the reason behind the community outrage and pushback, it’s this type of reaction that has killed or delayed many projects, as well as made many local governments gun-shy on pushing them forward.
So in order to prevent communities turning against agrivoltaics it’s important to control its spread, especially pseudo-agrivoltaics (a practice to build large solar farms under the guise of agriculture).
In protecting the people’s interest it helps to build community support, which is essential. The Fraunhofer institute recommends that 1. Agrivoltaics should be deployed mainly where synergistic effects can be achieved, for instance by reducing the water demand for crop production.
And… 2. To maintain proper local support, agrivoltaic systems should preferably be operated by local farms, energy cooperatives or regional investors. With these guidelines in mind, community resistance against agrivoltaics can be kept to a minimum.
Next, rules, regulations, and bureaucracy can also hold it back, which varies from country to country or even from city to city. “As part of its agricultural policy, the EU grants direct payments for land used primarily for agriculture. So, an important question is whether farmland loses its eligibility for financial support due to the use of agrivoltaics [….] … Whether the land is mostly used for agricultural purposes is decisive here”.
In the EU, agrivoltaic systems are usually considered to be physical structures in terms of the building regulation laws, so they need a building permit. In Germany for instance, it’s usually prohibited in rural areas unless it doesn’t conflict with a list of public interests.
Agrivoltaics, however, isn’t on the list of public interests yet. Lastly and maybe most important is the free market, which is pretty easy to wrap your head around because it all comes down to costs and investment.
Just like putting solar on your home, the big number to look at is cost per kWh. Because agrivoltaic solar doesn’t yield as much energy per square meter compared to a traditional solar park, on top of the construction costs, the cost per kWh can be 10-20% higher.
And there’s the big question of who owns the solar panels. In the Dutch example, the farmer wasn’t the investor or owner of the installation. A farmer’s willingness to participate all comes down to avoiding negative impacts to the crop yield and having lower operational costs from the solar panels.
In this case the solar array owner was able to demonstrate those benefits. The Fraunhofer institute found that farmers are only willing to engage in a project if the crop yield never falls below 80% of the reference field, but … that’s only if the farmer owns the solar array. That’s because the farmer can make up the crop shortfall from the energy produced. But that also raises the question, if they own the array, how are they going to optimize the solar panels … for solar energy production or for crop yield? For the highest energy production per square meter, solar parks win out.
For the highest guaranteed crop production, dedicated farming wins out. It all comes down to costs and investments. Without government intervention through subsidies or price guarantees, agrivoltaics may not stand a chance against other solar initiatives.
Agrivoltaics is a very promising concept that has the potential to kill two birds with one stone: helping our food supply and transitioning us to a cleaner energy source. The main benefit comes from the fact that solar panels are great at reducing GHG emissions, without sacrificing arable land.
Especially if we can convert land that’s currently being used to grow biofuel crops, like palm oil and corn farms, into land for actual human food production and consumption … or even reforestation, that would be a huge win! Looking at the big picture and deciding where we want to go can help us find ways to overcome the difficulties along the way.
Dave Borlace over at the ‘Just Have A Think’ YouTube channel created an incredible introductory video on the agrivoltaics concept as well, so be sure to check out that video too. But what do you think? Should we be trying to use agrivoltaics everywhere? Are there any other dual use renewable energy examples that you know about? Jump into the comments and let me know.
And a special thank you to Patreon producer Rob van der Wouw for all his help on pulling this script together. Thank you, Rob. And thanks to all of my patrons for helping to make these videos possible.
If you liked this video be sure to check out one of the ones I have linked right here. Be sure to subscribe and hit the notification bell if you think I’ve earned it. Thanks so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next one.
And please be sure to subscribe to this video to be notified when we release future videos, just like this. – So, Warren help us understand briefly what is community solar? – Sure, community solar are large solar arrays that are put in place to serve the community.
Primarily for people who don’t have the roof space or who don’t own their home for them, give them the ability to go solar. Yeah, so it’s a hybrid approach between something behind the meter where it could go on their roof or on their ground to say a utility scale, something in between that.
That that’s exactly right, Charles. If you think about solar for people who put solar on their homes, it’s behind the meter versus these large farms that you see out there. It’s, in-between those to serve those people who can’t otherwise go solar.
So, someone who is enrolled in a community solar project, do they actually own a part of the solar system? – They do not. So that’s one of the downsides to community solar is that you don’t get to own it.
And along with that, you don’t get to take advantage of the incentives that come along with solar. Yeah so definitely one of the pros of ownership is getting the incentives. What is one of the pros of going with the community solar subscribership? – Yeah, one of the pros is that you don’t have that initial outlay or the expense of going solar.
You get to participate and use renewable energy without the initial expense. In addition, if you happen to be a renter, or if you don’t have roof space or a ground space for solar, you can still use renewable solar energy by exploring community solar.
One of the other reasons for community solar is the idea that as the project grows in size, it gets cheaper per panel. – Correct. – So therefore I can be buying power from renewable sources that may be a little bit cheaper per se, than if I went and bought it myself.
Yeah, it should be said that there’s quite a few states that do not have the opportunity for people to buy into this community solar idea. – Community solar is new, solar in itself is new, but community solar is just starting to take off in most of the states around the Mid-Atlantic region.
So you may or may not have it in your state just yet. – Thanks for watching. If you enjoyed this information, be sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel for future releases.
A lot of people wonder whether buying a Tesla Powerwall, is a good investment. Well, we recently spoke to Angela, one of our recent customers about what she’s getting from her Tesla Powerwall. So when the installation happened and part of that sort of sign over process was like, Okay, now we’re gonna show you what it would be like, in a blackout and obviously, nothing happened for me.
It was an experience because
my fridge kept being on, I think that was all that
was running at the time. But you know, that’s probably
the most important thing. For me, is probably only the kettle cause I love a cup of tea.
My computer – I could probably do without it because you know, as long as I can charge my phone, I can run my business. But my children would probably argue that they would need every powerpoint for their … To charge their devices. But for me the kettle is the most important thing we moved from a very small property, like 90 square meters to now sort of a two story house with a pool. So I thought oh my gosh, like, we’re gonna use power a lot more.
I could see it
only being an advantage. And in the end, it has been. No one actually said to me, you’re going to get 99%, and I think on a yearly
average I’m I think I’m at 96% self sufficient every day.
But that’s because there
are some days in winter where you know, you might have rainy days, so that brings the
average a little bit down, but really in the last
two or three months, I’ve been 99% every day.
I was at $600 per quarter. And my last bill, which was the first bill with a fully installed Powerwall was minus, I think minus $45 But that was sort of running at the end of spring. So now summer I can see I have contributed a significant amount more of energy or kilowatts.
Back to the grid, so I’m expecting a little bit more. And, I actually put that towards my gas bill. This is no surprise to anyone we mean we’re putting a big pressure on Mother Earth. And I really feel you have to start with yourself.
Today we’re going to discuss solar scams that you should be aware of and how you can protect yourself from them. – I’m Charles. – And I’m Warren, and please be sure to subscribe and like this video, so you’ll get notified of future releases of videos just like this. – One of the most popular scams that we see is that solar is free.
– Yeah, we see that all the time on the internet, the government’s just giving away solar panels, click here. – Yep, your state is giving out free solar panels. And what they’re doing is they want you to click on that, and give your information to them because that information is valuable and they resell that.
– That’s right, so don’t be misled in thinking that you should not be paying for solar. Any great investment with a great return is gonna require an upfront sacrifice of money. – Absolutely, so when you see those misleading ads, that solar is free, just know that the people behind that, or the companies behind that are looking to capture your information so that they can sell it to solar installers or other providers out there.
– Yeah. And it should be said, most of those advertisements are not specifically from solar companies. – Correct? – They are again, just trying to collect information that they can resell. – So Charles, let’s talk about some ways that people can prevent themselves from falling victim to some of these scams.
– Yeah, so your research,
read their reviews, check their website. Look what other people are
saying about that company. Is their positive reviews? Are they having a great experience? Are they delivering on their promises? Or are they over promising
and under delivering? Which is gonna be an underwhelming
experience for someone.
– Yeah, you know, any company that has a happy and a satisfied customer base, will gladly share that information with you. They’ll want you to talk to them. So if you’re struggling to get that information out of a company, it’s probably a red flag that you should move on.
– Yep, ask lots of questions. Don’t be forced into something quickly. If they want you to sign
today to get the best deal, that’s probably not the right
company to do business with. A deal today should
also be a deal tomorrow.
Now there are some situations where maybe solar panels, they have special pricing, but as a whole, ask questions, think on it, ask other people, take your time so that you are really comfortable when you do make that decision to go solar.
– Thanks for watching, if you enjoyed this information, be sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel for future releases.
In this article, we’re gonna discuss how adding a solar system will impact your property insurance. I’m Charles, and I’m Warren. So the question today, Warren, is how will installing solar panels affect my property insurance? Yeah, the short answer Charles is that it will impact it and it’ll probably go up.
You want to make sure that you have adequate coverage to cover the solar array. – And account for that added cost, because that is gonna affect the payback period of your solar investment. – Correct. So it’s really important that you select a reputable solar installer for a number of reasons, but two of them that apply to this specific topic, and that is number one, that they carry their own insurance during the installation phase.
It takes a huge amount of energy to keep the modern world running. And given that there will likely be another two billion people on this planet by 2050, and we would like them to all have good qualities of lives, our energy demand is only going to go up. Unfortunately, the challenge of meeting this demand is also growing.
Even now, nearly 13% of people don’t have reliable access to electricity. And the fossil fuels we still rely on for most of our energy are not only catastrophically heating up our planet, but also they will eventually run out.
Luckily, there could be a solution, literally on the horizon, in the form of solar panels launched into space! Solar panels have long seemed like a promising solution to our energy problem. After all, they convert basically endless radiation from the Sun into electricity that we can use, without polluting our planet.
But the world hasn’t really gone solar yet. And that’s partly because there’s a limit to how much solar energy we can collect on the surface of the Earth. Solar panels can work well at low latitudes or during summer seasons, whenever the Sun is out and directly shining onto those panels.
But if the weather, the season, or the location aren’t ideal, solar panels aren’t that efficient. Plus, they only work during the day. And they can’t even make the most of the Sun’s energy, because about 30% of the sunlight that shines on Earth gets reflected by the atmosphere.
The best place to harness solar power would be somewhere free of all these limitations, and nowhere is freer than space! The idea of solar panels in space actually started out as sci-fi. In 1941, the author Isaac Asimov dreamed up the idea for a short story he was writing.
But around twenty-five years after that, scientists started thinking seriously about the prospect. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, the U.S. invested quite a bit of time and money into researching how these so-called satellite power systems might work.
The basic idea was to build satellites with huge mirrors, which would collect as much high-intensity sunlight as possible, and redirect it into some kind of solar panel. This light would then be converted into another form of electromagnetic radiation, like microwaves or infrared laser light, and beamed wirelessly back down to Earth.
The benefit is that beams of light at these wavelengths would pass through the atmosphere much better than ordinary sunlight. But wireless energy transfer from space: still a little bit tricky. For one thing, beams spread out and dissipate over long distances.
Also, the transmitter and receiver would be constantly moving relative to one another. Still, scientists have come up with two possible
ideas for how to make this work. The first is to beam down the collected energy
with microwaves, which can pass easily through the clouds and
storms in Earth’s atmosphere.
And this would happen from a specific spot
in Earth’s orbit. Scientists noticed in the 1960s that satellites
in high orbits that kept pace with Earth’s rotation spent almost
no time in Earth’s shadow.
So one of these so-called geosynchronous orbits would be an ideal place for solar power satellites. This would also solve the issue of sending a beam to a moving target, since satellites in geosynchronous orbits stay roughly in the same part of the sky as the Earth rotates.
Unfortunately, this solution comes with a
new challenge: Geosynchronous orbits are really high up,
like, 35,000 kilometers above Earth. We do have some satellites there… but this
wouldn’t be just any satellite.
To deliver a worthwhile amount of energy in
the form of microwaves, these satellites need a huge antenna and massive
mirrors. According to some designs, they’d weigh
about 80,000 tons, with mirrors three kilometers in diameter.
Just getting a single satellite of that size
up to a geosynchronous orbit would take several rocket launches, and it would be almost
impossible to maintain or repair. Plus, over such a long journey across space, the beam would spread out significantly, meaning
the receiver on the ground would have to be several kilometers across
to intercept it.
Still, the rewards could be enormous. A single low-intensity beam of microwave energy
from this type of satellite could supply several gigawatts of power, which
is enough to fuel a large city. Fortunately, if the hurdles do end up making
this one impractical, there is another option, and this one might
be a little more feasible: small, laser power satellites orbiting much
closer to Earth.
It’s much easier and cheaper to get a small
satellite up four hundred kilometers into a low-Earth orbit. So engineers have come up with a small design
that uses an infrared laser, rather than microwaves, to beam down their
Compared to microwaves, these specific wavelengths
of radiation wouldn’t pass as easily through thick clouds and storms, but
they’d come with a lot of other benefits. Like, at just ten tons each, they could easily be deployed with a single rocket launch.
Plus, they’d be much easier to assemble
and repair. Also, lasers naturally have super narrow beams, which would stay fairly narrow over the much
shorter distance to Earth. That means they could work with a smaller
receiver on the ground.
The catch is, because of their smaller mirrors,
and the fact that they’d pass in and out of Earth’s shadow, individual
laser satellites could only deliver a few megawatts of energy. So scientists think it would take an entire
array of laser power satellites working together to make a significant impact
on our energy needs.
So for now, there are still some challenges to work through before space-based solar power can become a reality. But it’s not really the technology that’s holding us back, it’s more the cost and the commitment.
At the moment, several countries are actively trying to get solar power satellites off the ground, including the U.K. and Japan. And in 2020, the U.S. conducted the first solar power experiment in orbit.
Engineers put a solar panel on board a highly classified military drone that orbits three hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface, to see how this tech would fare in space. Today, it may still be some time before we can charge our homes wirelessly from space as easily as we charge our phones.
But the sci-fi future Isaac Asimov imagined
80 years ago isn’t that far beyond our grasp. And speaking of creative people, this episode
of SciShow Space was brought to you by Skillshare, an online
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Welcome to the Solar Energy Channel, where you will get an honest inside look at all things solar. In this video we’re gonna talk about how many solar panels does it take to charge your electric vehicle.
I’m Charles. – And I’m Warren. And before we get into the video, don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to our channel so you’ll get notified of future videos just like this. – So Warren, those who have an electric vehicle or are thinking of purchasing one what considerations should they have when looking at solar? – Yeah, that’s a great question, Charles.
You know, the biggest consideration is how much do you drive? How far do you commute to and from work? How many miles are you gonna be putting on your electric vehicle? Cause that’ll give you an indication of how much additional solar you need and how many electric vehicles you have.
If you have to, you’ll need double the amount or so. To give you an idea, Charles, a car that drives 10,000 miles a year will need about an extra six solar panels, about 3,500 kilowatt hours or so per year.
So for every electric vehicle that’s driving 10,000 miles, you should plan on adding approximately six solar panels to your system. – So Warren, how long will it take someone to charge their electric vehicle? – That’s an excellent question and there’s some variables involved in that too, Charles.
So first of all, there’s three different types of charges. A level one, two, and three. Different types of charges and they charge at different rates. The first charger, the level one charger is typically the free charger, well, not free, it’s the charger that your dealership gives you when you buy an electric vehicle, it comes with the car.
You plug it into a regular 110 outlet and it takes the slowest
amount of time to charge. It’ll take more than overnight. If you deplete your battery, you should anticipate parking your car and charging it for days.
Most practical use in a home environment would be a level two charger and that plugs into a 240 outlet. So similar to your dryer or your microwave or your higher loads in your home, you’ll wanna have an electrician or your solar company install some outlets that you can have these level two charges that will charge your car overnight.
And then level three charges typically aren’t found in a home. They’re commercial or they’re found in gas stations and they do more sophisticated management of charging and payments, et cetera. – So in summary, the number of panels that you’re gonna need to charge your electric vehicle is dependent upon the amount of miles that you’re gonna drive in the course of a year.
Also, a level two charger is probably gonna be the most practical charger for a homeowner that doesn’t wanna wait days and days to charge their vehicle. So a level two is gonna charge it probably most times overnight to a full capacity of their battery.
My name is Charles Fox. – And I’m Warren Miller. – And in this video, we’re gonna talk about how to choose solar panels. There are a lot of different panel manufacturers out there. And so we’re gonna talk to you briefly about what you should be looking for when you look at different solar panels.
Yep, so there’s not only a lot of different solar panel manufacturers, but there are different types of solar panels. There are the monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. And you may have heard those terms, but I’d say don’t get caught up in whether or not you’re looking for a monocrystalline or polycrystalline panel.
They have similar efficiencies. Just be aware that the monocrystalline panels typically have a darker, blacker hue to them, and the polycrystallines have more of a blue hue to those panels. – That’s right.
Yeah, good point, Warren. The other thing you should
consider is the panel production. So each panel’s going to produce
a certain amount of watts. And what we’re seeing is that over time, panel manufacturers are producing panels that are incrementally
getting more efficient.
What that means is with the same amount of space that panel is able to produce a little bit more solar power. So over time we’re seeing panel efficiencies increase. And so if you’re looking at solar, you want to make sure you have something that’s kind of within the market range at the time you install.
Absolutely. And I think one of the most important aspects when picking out a solar panel is to look for the warranty and the company behind that warranty. – Yeah. And it should be stated that most panel manufacturers, at least the mainstream– – Yeah.
They’re going to have a 25-year warranty. And that is typically just the panel itself. Then they have an output guarantee, so there’s typically two warranties that come with every panel manufacturer, or the panel manufacturers apply to their panel.
And we often attribute
the overall warranty to the production warranty. And your production warranty
is much more important than your panel warranty. So Warren, help us understand a little about the differences
of those two in more detail.
Sure. The production guarantee guarantees that that particular solar panel will continue to produce electricity for 25 years. Most solar panels have a 25-year production guarantee, meaning that in 25 years, it’ll be producing what it’s guaranteed to produce, which they do degrade slightly over time.
But most panels should be producing about 85% of their initial output by the 25-year mark. The warranty or the hardware warranty that comes with it is typically 10 or 12 or 15 years. And that’s to cover the physical components of the solar panel.
And you want that panel company, that panel manufacturer to
be around in future years, if you would ever have
an issue with a panel that is no longer operating as it should. So they need to be there to
stand behind their warranty.
So if they’re not making money today, that’s a good indication or it should be a red flag that they may not be sustainable over the long-term. – Yeah. I would argue, Charles, that that’s probably one of the most important features.
It is. – Obviously you want to pick a high quality panel that’s efficient, but you want to make sure that the company that manufacturers that panel is gonna be around in 25 years to support those warranty claims.
Yep, and a lot of that data’s public. If a company is publicly traded, you can do your own research. You can call us. We’d be glad to look at that for you. Thank you so much for watching this video.
Over the last two decades, solar technology has grown to become one of the great weapons in the battle of climate change, but they do require one key ingredient in order to reach their full potential. That’s of course, sunlight.
Any home solar panel owner can tell you that cloudy days are no bueno when it comes to solar production, but what if there was a solar technology that could function even without direct sunlight, sounds like a contradiction right.
Well, it turns out a really clever kid came up with an idea: he calls the aria solar panels that can actually do just that. So how do these panels work exactly and what sets them apart from solar panels that we have on the market today, we thought these questions deserve deeper dive today on tupa davinci.
Like so many of history’s great creations, AuREUS’ technology wasn’t developed by some mega tech conglomerate or some mega billionaire.
It came from this guy Carvey Aaron Meg, an electrical engineering student from Mapua University in the Philippines. Meg’s inspiration literally fell from the sky. It was a rainy afternoon. A common occurrence in the tropical Philippines meg was wearing his sunglasses, which had lenses that darkened when exposed to sunlight.
Also very typical, however, on this gloomy overcast afternoon, meg noticed that, even though the sun was obscured by clouds, his lenses were still darkened see. Even though clouds covered the majority of sunlight, there were still tiny light rays that were able to get through.
One of the main drawbacks of conventional solar panels is that they don’t absorb ultraviolet light, which is why their efficiency drops unless they’re in direct sunlight with no shading. So with this combination of rainfall and transition lenses, an ultraviolet light bulb went off in meg’s head.
One major benefit of ultraviolet light is that it can shine through even on a cloudy day. This is one reason why it’s common for people to get sunburns on a cloudy day, not thinking they need sunscreen, because it feels like the sun isn’t shining. AuREUS stands for aurora, renewable energy and uv sequestration? Well, I got ta handle the kid he’s got a future in marketing. You might recognize that first word aurora from the natural occurring phenomena, aurora borealis or the northern lights during naturally occurring aurorae, that’s more than one aurora.
Apparently, electrical charged particles emitted from the sun during solar storms collide with the earth most of these particles simply bounce away, but some are trapped inside the earth’s magnetic field, speeding toward either the northern or southern pole.
Remember the earth is just a big magnet. These high energy particles, usually gamma or uv radiation bash into luminescent atoms and molecules in the atmosphere causing them to heat up a process called excitation they’re, then re-emitted as low energy particles, visible light due to their internal reflectance, which then moves them in a wave pattern.
Throughout the magnetic field, creating the stunning curtaining effects, we know as the northern and southern lights. So what does any of this have to do with solar panels? Well, because the aureus panels capitalize on this exact process, it begins with luminescent particles derived from the planet’s original solar energy producers, fruits and vegetables.
That’S right: meg’s, invention, utilizes, discarded crop waste that has the natural ability to transform uv rays into electrical energy. Meg tested nearly 80 different compounds from local crops before landing on nine, which showed the greatest potential for long-term use.
Next luminescent compounds were combined with a resin and poured over a thin solar film, creating strong, translucent yet easily multiple glass-like panels. The first products looked almost like stained glass, not like your typical photovoltaic panels.
So how exactly do these panels work? Well, just like in naturally occurring auroras, it begins with stray uv light hitting the resin panels, which are packed full of high energy particles. Remember photovoltaic panels.
Can’t use raw uv light, but once the panels absorb the invisible radiation, they re-emit them as low energy particles, aka visible light due to internal reflectance, just like those particles in our atmosphere that visible light then strikes a solar film laced along the panel’s edge, where it Is converted into dc electricity regulating circuits process, the voltage output to enable battery charging storage or direct utilization of electricity may compares the process to how mammals breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
In that this panel takes in ultraviolet light, then sheds out visible light. The prototype panel, a three by two foot lime green translucent panel, was able to generate enough electricity to charge two cell phones per day.
That may not sound like much, but this is only the beginning.
When scaled up meg says these panels could enable entire buildings to generate their own electricity, while solar produced energy has proven a vital role in the fight against climate change.
Some suggest that today’s solar technology may be reaching a bit of a saturation point in terms of efficiency. Aureus panels could be an excellent addition to a solar energy system by stepping into some of the gaps left by current solar technology, because the release panels don’t need direct sunlight to operate, their applications could be limitless sure they could definitely excel in locations with more cloud Cover and less direct sunshine, but more than just adapting to the weather areas panels could find homes in more densely populated urban environments.
Instead of taking up acres of land, oreos angles could be used to create vertical solar farms. Think about the sides and windows of your home or even better the sides of buildings and skyscrapers covered in these ultra violet absorbing panels, because they don’t rely on direct sunlight aureus panels could increase solar harvesting density exponentially best of all the panels.
Utilize crop waste creating much more of a closed loop system that benefits the environment as a whole. Meg even suggests that the material could be used on various surfaces, including cars, walls, airplanes and clothing fabrics.
The hope he says is to encourage consumers to adopt renewable energy solutions with a technology that can better adapt to people’s lives and interest. As of right now, the panels aren’t quite ready to hit the marketplace, but this innovation was enough to win meg the james dyson sustainability award, which came with a handsome 35 000 prize with that money.
Meg hopes to continue to invest in research and development. For this really promising technology, he also hopes to increase manufacturing right now. The current production rate is about 30 panels a month.
Meg hopes to use some of his prize money to create a production, team and facility. This is pretty interesting, clever and ingenious technology, but of course this is years away from being anywhere near commercialization, ready starting with sourcing materials.
It’s not exactly clear how easily you can scale up discarded fruits and vegetable matter to produce these panels, and if you make enough of these, do you have to start throwing crops away that were perfectly good, not really clear, plus the resin panels still need to prove they can withstand the harsh rays of the sun for decades, without yellowing, fading cracking or otherwise falling apart, plus there’s still the very important question of how efficient they can be and how much more they’ll end up costing to manufacture the dream of draping the skyscrapers of tomorrow with something like, this will only make sense if it’s worth the added cost so yeah.
This is super super early and much remains to be answered. But that being said, this story really got me excited. I would love to meet carvies. He seems like an absolutely amazing dude, so carvey, if you’re, watching, give me a call covering these great innovative ideas that just might put a dent in the energy needs of the future is literally the mission statement of this channel this whole.
The future is going to be awesome thing yeah. This is what we’re talking about. So what do you think could aria’s panels be the next major movement in solar technology? What creative applications could you see for these panels? Let us know in the comments below thanks so much for watching if you want to be a rock star supporter of this show, please join us on patreon as a patron or a youtube channel member come join our discord.
You can chat with us pick future scripts and, just generally be a part of the team. We’D appreciate you. We appreciate you now anyway, take a look around there’s some videos, i think we’re going to like i’m ricky, tuba, davinci and just remember the future is going to be awesome.
In recent years, more and more people have been able to buy flexible panels on the internet. There are a lot of choices available, so picking which is the best can be difficult at times. We are here to facilitate your selection between the most powerful, efficient, and valuable solar panel technology options in 2021 by reviewing the best flexible solar panels.
This list is based on my personal opinion and research and lists them based on random numbering if you want more information and updated pricing on the products mentioned be sure to check the links in the description below.
A solar panel that weighs no more than four pounds can give you the power and energy you need. This lightweight, flexible, and pliable material makes the Renogy Monocrystalline easy to transport, transport, and affix to uneven surfaces.
Since it is made of polymer, it handles well.
Its waterproof design makes it even better. The airstream, the yacht, the truck trailer, and
the boat are all ideal for using this product. Flexibility on this panel is 248 degrees.
In terms of solar panels, this is as flexible as they come. A panel with a 248 degree tilt can be used for a wide variety of applications. In comparison with other solar panels, this Monocrystalline panel is 95% thinner.
Kingsolar’s products are among the best when it comes to enjoying the benefits of flexible solar panels. Solar panels made of these materials are flexible, reliable, and have a higher efficiency than common solar panels.
In terms of solar technology, DOKIO can provide a high level of energy output. By connecting multiple DOKIO panels in parallel, an off-grid, high-power system can be created. DOKIO panels make it possible to live outdoors with renewable energy supplies.
A solar inverter, solar generator, and more can be used with this product.
SunPower monocrystalline solar cells are responsible for this. Connecting two of these panels to a 200-watt flexible solar panel will enable much more energy to be drawn from the sun. Unlike monocrystalline or polycrystalline 100W solar panels, SunPower 110W flexible panels offer a greater wattage.
Instead of the plastic sheet used in conventional solar panels, the SunPower panel is constructed of high-quality polymer. It can be installed on RVs, mobile homes, boats, and yachts, and other places where it may be exposed to harsh weather conditions, as it is rugged, weather-resistant, and made from high-quality materials.
On Number 2: XINPUGUANG 100w Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panels Another brand that’s growing on the market is XINPUGUANG 100w Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panels. Monocrystalline silicon solar cells are used in the panel to provide a 19.6% solar conversion efficiency. Whether you’re camping, or even installing a solar panel in your RV, a 100w panel can be used. In some cases, foldable panels are exposed to salt water, high temperatures, and extreme conditions while on flat surfaces.
Xinpuguang’s marine solar panels are the best, making them durable at the time of installation on a curved surface. Additionally, this product can provide 100W of power for the same price as a traditional 100W polycrystalline panel.
Its plug-and-play design enables it to be installed without the need for solar installers.
On Number 1: HQST 100W Solar Flexible Panels Solar flexible solar panels are important to look for when using renewable energy on a boat to power electrical devices.
With a 22% energy conversion rate, 22% heat resistance, and a waterproof design, HQST 100W Solar Panels are perfect for high-temperature applications. Among the best marine flexible solar panels available online, it is ideal for yachts, boats, and more.
Genssi products feature outstanding efficiency,
high-reliability, and versatility. Camping, installing on a roof vehicle, or simply using
them as a backup generation system for the home are all possibilities.
With Gennsi panels and an inverter or backup solar generator, it can produce a lot of energy for home or office use, or simply charge phones and laptops while on the go. So guys this was the video about the best flexible solar panels .
If you enjoyed the video be sure to hit the like button and subscribe to our channel for more videos. Thank you!
On Sept. 1 and 2, 1859, telegraph systems around the world failed catastrophically. The operators of the telegraphs reported receiving electrical shocks, telegraph paper catching fire, and being able to operate equipment with batteries disconnected. During the evenings, the aurora borealis, more commonly known as the northern lights, could be seen as far south as Colombia. Typically, these lights are only visible at higher latitudes, in northern Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia.
What the world experienced that day, now known as the Carrington Event, was a massive geomagnetic storm. These storms occur when a large bubble of superheated gas called plasma is ejected from the surface of the sun and hits the Earth. This bubble is known as a coronal mass ejection.
The plasma of a coronal mass ejection consists of a cloud of protons and electrons, which are electrically charged particles. When these particles reach the Earth, they interact with the magnetic field that surrounds the planet. This interaction causes the magnetic field to distort and weaken, which in turn leads to the strange behavior of the aurora borealis and other natural phenomena. As an electrical engineer who specializes in the power grid, I study how geomagnetic storms also threaten to cause power and internet outages and how to protect against that.
Nowadays, more and more people are going solar and taking advantage of the benefits of a residential solar energy system. A solar energy system will produce much of the energy your home needs which can help to offset how much energy you need to buy from your utility company.
That means the electricity
flows in a single direction. Your home and appliances
run on alternating current or AC electricity, which means electricity currents can flow back and forth in two directions.
So, to put solar energy to work in your home, your system must include an inverter that converts DC electricity to AC electricity. When your solar energy system is not producing enough electricity for your home when it’s say, a really cloudy day or at night, your home grid-tie solar system is still connected to receive electricity from the grid so you’ll have uninterrupted power.
Before you install solar on your Maine home, there are a few things you’ll need to remember. Every solar installation needs to be permitted in advance by your city or county. This is primarily for safety reasons and your contractor can help you with this.
If you’re part of a homeowners’ association, you’ll need to first obtain approval from your HOA. Not all solar panels are alike. Your contractor can help you select a solar technology that’s best for your home.
For more information on solar technology, visit our solar knowledge base. Congrats on your first step to going solar.
People will do a renovation and spend all this money on the inside of their house and forget about the roof. It’s really the shield for your home and should be treated that way. Most people don’t realize that a roof is more than just shingles.
It’s a fully integrated system From the underlayment starter to the shingle, to the ridge, to the ventilation, when you add solar to that, it’s also an energy Producing system, since rooftop, solar and roofing are so integrated.
It just makes sense to have them both installed by the sink on earth. The quality of the solar panels, the reputation that I read about online, that made us decide on going with Semper Solaris when I found out that Semper Solaris was owned by a veteran and Also employed a number of veterans.
You know being a veteran myself. That was really significant for me. I think to understand that this is a company that has some good values and is reaching out to try and help of some of our service men being in the military.
You have that sense of integrity instilled into you when you put that into a business. It makes it much better for the customer, because, if there’s a problem that happens, they take care of you. If anything goes wrong.
It allows you to produce the power when you want it; store the energy at your leisure. Most batteries provide you with the option of doing a backup power, meaning that if the grid goes out, you’ll have batteries and you’ll have power, while they do exact, not only that your warranty’s you’re talking about 25 year warranty solar system.
If your warranty on your roof having those start at the same time, We’re the same person has installed that for you or the same company, you know where to go to if there’s a problem, It’s the ultimate peace of mind.
What kind of set Semper Solaris? Apart from a lot of other contractors? We are a Platinum Contractor of Owens Corning, who makes the best shingle in the industry. There are 500 Platinum’s in the in the whole country.
That puts us in a pretty selective contract. They have such faith in us. They are gonna back our workmanship, our installation for 50 years. All those things are so important to protecting you and the biggest investment that you have, which is your home.
G day, everyone today we’re going to go through the question of whether all solar panels are built the same. This is all the essential info you need to know before deciding on a solar panel for your setup.
That means we get the most sunlight per square metre looking at it. Another way before we had a single solar power station covering 50 by 50 kilometres, with an efficiency of just 10 % about half the current consumer grade efficiency.
It would be sufficient to meet all of Australia’s electricity needs. It’s for all these reasons that solar power makes so much sense for your camping or full driving setup. Plus, it’s easy to use and reliable.
It doesn’t require fuel, so it’s clean and quiet, and these days it’s relatively inexpensive. Okay, let’s get into the most commonly used solar panels for camping and for driving and their uses. First, there are permanent solar set ups.
That means that while you’re driving a vehicle or while you stopped at camp or even while, you’re parked you’re charging your auxiliary battery with the right setup, your solar is taking the load off your alternator and saving your fuel.
Even if it’s a minor improvement, it’s still an improvement. There are a couple of options: glass covered panels with alloy frames are common and they offer a good combination of strength and durability, and then there are semi flexible panels that are gaining popularity, they’re much lower profile.
Lighter weight and can be shaped to gentle curves, so they can fit almost anywhere next. There are your portable solar panels. These offer the benefit that you can choose when to pack them. So if your vehicle is a daily driver, you might need to keep the roof rack free or you don’t need to carry solar around all the time.
That mean you can angle the panel towards the Sun, the higher efficiency, but solar blankets are much more portable, lightweight and easier to transport and store some solar. Blankets do offer fall out legs for the best of both worlds.
All solar panels are most effective when they’re pointed directly towards the Sun and they’re kept relatively cool, so whether you choose permanent solar or portable solar, keep those two things in mind: you’ll need to point them towards the Sun as best you can and keep them well.
Ventilated Plus think about the type of camping and four wheel, driving that you’re actually likely to do. If you spend most of your time sitting around at camp, then a couple of big portable panels or blankets might be the way to do it.
They’re easy to pack easy to set up and easy to connect. That means you got power running into your vehicle, while you’re sitting at camp. Otherwise, if you’re doing long drives throughout the day, permanent solar might make more sense, particularly if you pair it with the right DC to DC charger with solar priority charging.
That means that, while you’re driving your solar panel will be charging your auxiliary battery first and then your alternator will pick up any slack plus, it means your old 12-volt set up is running off the one system, a very basic way to think about how solar works Is that it’s two layers of silicon sandwiched together and different materials added to each layer, so there’s an excess of electrons on one and an excess of holes or free space on the other? Now, in this case, the top layer has an excess of electrons and the bottom layer has an excess of holes.
Those electrons want to travel through the cell to get to the holes when sunlight hits the solar cell, the light particles which are known as photons knock. The electrons out of those holes and back to the top layer where, instead of going back to the holes, they travel along these thin wires known as fingers, and then these thicker wires known as bus bars after that they go through your battery, delivering charge.
Then, back to the base layer where the process is repeated, each of these solar cells is only very low voltage and very low current, which is why connecting many of them together gives you enough usable output to charge your batteries generally more cells equals higher output.
Each type has its own pros and cons so starting with amorphous thin film solar. Now they are slightly better in low light and cloudy conditions, they’re, thinner and more flexible, but that comes at a massive cost, they’re much more expensive to produce and buy and they’re much less efficient, you’d need about twice the surface area of a monocrystalline or polycrystalline.
To get the same energy output, the absolute top shelf amorphous solar cells are about 10 percent efficient, so they’re able to convert about 10 percent of sunlight into usable energy. Next up we’ve got polycrystalline solar.
These are the cheapest to produce, which means they’re the cheapest. For consumers to buy and they’re more efficient than amorphous panels, however, because of the way they’re produced, which is pouring molten silicon into a mold, they cool at different rates, so you’ll see fractures and cracks.
Now they lead to inefficiencies overall, they have a maximum efficiency of just over 22%. Finally, there’s monocrystalline solar yeah. This is the most efficient for its size and it performs slightly better than polycrystalline as it warms up and in low-light conditions, but it costs more to produce and that’s because it’s made from a single piece of silicon.
That means, though, there’s no cracking or fractures, and you do get an efficiency boost about 26.5% overall efficiency, that’s more than the polycrystalline and much more than the Amorphous. These figures are achieved in ideal conditions in the lab, with a single solar cell.
So in the real world, with real solar panels, those figures will vary, but it’s a good place to start when you’re thinking about what type of solar you need for your setup before choosing a solar panel, do your research and find out what cell technology the Panel is the next thing to look for on each cell is the number of bus bars? As I said earlier, when sunlight hits the solar cell, it knocks electrons free from the silicon.
They then travel along the fingers, which is the thin wires and then the thicker wires known as bus bars. If fingers are the back roads, then bus bars are the highways, and that means the more the better.
Not only do you get higher efficiency, but you get better durability and longevity as well early consumer grade solar cells had two bus bars. Then they evolved into three and more recently, four and five.
So that means, if you’re looking at a solar panel, make sure it’s got four or even better. Five bus bars any less than four and it can be sure that it’s old, outdated stuff, that’s probably being sold at a clearance price plus.
If you have an older panel, that seems to be underperforming and it’s got two or three bus bars. It might be the time to upgrade. Bus bars can appear silver like this, or they can be coated with black silicon, which might make them look nicer, but it actually leads to a tiny loss in efficiency.
There are some exceptions to the bus bar rule, though, because bus bars are on top of the cell, they create shade, which means a loss in efficiency. So new technology, like shingles cells, are shaking up the industry.
They have bus bars on each end of the cell, which overlap like a tiled roof of the house. That means even better efficiency, more power and longer life, but the trade-off is that they’re more expensive too.
A uniform colour and the output is within specifications, grade B or Class B cells show minor defects, scratches yellowing or tiny parts of the busbar missing, but the electrical data is within specifications, Class C or grade C cells show visible defects, including chips or cracks large missing Sections of bus bars and the electrical data is not within spec.
Finally, plus D or grade D cells are essentially rubbish with major defects, breakages or damaged. Finally, it’s important and compare each solar panel you’re, looking at like the like solar manufacturers and retailers, use the same standard test conditions in the lab to rate their solar panel wattage.
They light up the panel with a thousand watts per square meter of light and then set the ambient temperature up to 25 degrees Celsius. Then they simulate the amount of atmosphere that the light needs to pass through.
That’s the am 1.5 figure here AM stands for air mass 1.5. Air mass is a good average for most areas as it represents the sun coming through the atmosphere on a slight angle, directly overhead. It have an air mass of 1 and, as the sun goes close to the sunrise or sunset, the number would increase has to go through more atmosphere.
The next thing you’ll see on your solar panel specifications is the normal operating cell temperature. Now, that’s the temperature that your solar panel will reach in normal operating real-world conditions, so 800 watts per square meter of light 20 degrees ambient and about a 3.
5 kilometre per hour wind. Now the back of the panel is elevated, so it’s ventilated as well a solar panels. Normal operating cell temperature might be listed as high as sixty degrees Celsius, but the lower the number the better because it means the panel is more efficient at dispelling Heat and that’s important because for every degree of solar panel reaches above 25 degrees, it could be losing Around half a percent efficiency, so here’s a hot tip the reason power decreases, while temperature increases is because each individual cells voltage drops as they heat up.
The good news, though, is that the current increases as the temperature increases. So if you have a DC DC charger with an MPPT regulator, it can take advantage of that extra current plus boost the voltage to the correct level that your battery requires.
Although you’re losing some power due to the heat of the panel, the MPPT is more capable of then outputting the correct power to correctly charge a battery. My last piece of advice is to go for a more powerful solar setup than you.
That means no matter. The conditions you can always keep your batteries charged up any campsite running smoothly. Now whether that means you opted for a bigger permanent solar panel or at a portable solar panel, tear setup which is easy to use whenever you need it.
Thanks to a 70% drop in price since 2010 and plenty of government subsidies, solar panels have become an integral part of the utility grid, as well as many home rooftops.
However, this renewable energy technology isn’t all sunshine. There’s shadows looming over its bright future. There’s a potential tsunami of solar panels that will be nearing their end-of-life in the coming years.
That fact has concerned many people, as the vast majority of panels here in the U.S. aren’t recycled. Why is that and what happens to these panels at the end of their service life? Is it even possible to recycle them? There’s some interesting advances there that we have to talk about.
Let’s see if we can come to a decision on this. Solar panel recycling has been a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Not too long ago, the LA Times published an article that painted a pretty grim picture and a bunch of you started asking me about it.
So, can we recycle solar panels and is the problem really that bad? Yes, we can recycle them … but it’s complicated. And as a big proponent of solar energy, I can’t ignore that this is a big, looming issue.
Unlike solar energy, solar panels aren’t a never ending resource and most panels will hit their end-of-life in 30 to 40 years. Many people talk about 20-25 years, but often they’re talking about the panel warranty period.
They can last much longer than that, but when they do hit end-of-life, what happens to them at that point? The answer is kind of complicated, as photovoltaic (PV) panels are multi-layered sandwiches made from different materials.
According to the Solar for Energy Industries Association (SEIA), easy-to-recycle materials like the glass pane and aluminum frame make up 80% of a typical PV module. How about the remaining 20%? This changes depending upon the type of panel.
Let’s take silicon-based PV modules, which represent 90% of the global market. In this case, you have a silicon cell with a silver grid on top. Also, there’s an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) layer sandwiching the cell.
Finally, at the back of the panel, you have a plastic junction box with copper wiring inside. While all of these materials are potentially recyclable, separating them out is a labor-intensive and complex process.
In the best case scenario, solar panels end up in glass recycling facilities, where they mechanically pop off the aluminum frame and the plastic junction box, and they strip off the copper wiring.
Then, recyclers shred the glass pane without isolating the sandwiched components and sell a not-so-shiny glassy powder, a.k.a. cullet, which can be used as building material or for other industrial applications.
In the worst case scenario, solar panels are shredded as received. However, this isn’t worth the effort for recyclers. A paper estimated that you can barely make $3 from the recovered glass, aluminum, and copper of a 60-cell silicon module.
That amount is dwarfed by the expenses, as the cost of recycling a panel in the U.S. can cost up to $25. In contrast, sending a module to a landfill costs just $2. So, you may see why only about 10% of US panels get recycled.
Things could change if we could recover silicon and silver, accounting for 60% of the module’s value. To do this, you would need high-temperature thermal and chemical treatments on top of the mechanical steps, which translates into higher costs.
Recovering silicon may not even be enough to offset the cost. That’s what researchers found out when assessing the feasibility of a 2,000-ton recycling plant. According to scientists, the process wouldn’t be profitable as, unlike thin-film modules, silicon-based panels lack valuable metals like indium and gallium.
Besides their low intrinsic economic value, solar panels are fragile and could be classified as hazardous waste when they fail a heavy metals leach test. This means you need a specialized workforce, treatment, packaging, and transport to handle them safely.
Not to mention the potential environmental impact of contaminating the soil and groundwater with nasty chemicals like lead and cadmium when being chucked into a landfill. As reported by the LA Times, panels go through a treatment, such as glass laminate encapsulation (GLE).
This process seals the panel and minimizes heavy metals leaching out. Researchers simulated and ran multiple tests on the effect of GLE on lead leaching potential. How well does it work? In one case, GLE reduced the lead mobility by up to 9 times, making it nearly harmless for the environment.
However, one of the tests revealed that GLE was not enough to limit lead spreading. Factoring in solar panel disposal and panels getting early retirement for newer more efficient panels, the Harvard Business Review predicted that the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of solar panels could quadruple by 2035.
I think that’s a little aggressive, but we’re in uncharted territory here. The absence of a nation-wide law mandating recycling doesn’t help either. In fact, only 5 states have put in place solar panels end-of-life policies so far.
With a solar trash wave looming, we’d better find a way to recycle more … and we need to be quick to stay ahead of it. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IEA), by 2050 we could have nearly 80 million metric tons worth of solar panel waste.
That sounds like a pile of solar garbage that could eclipse the sun. That sounds like something Mr. Burns could get behind. Clearly, the sun isn’t shining on solar panel recycling…yet … but we shouldn’t get stuck in doom and gloom here.
We’ve already managed to sort out similar problems in the past and we can learn from that. Let’s look at the lead acid batteries (LAB) success story, for instance. A study from the Battery Council International (BCI) reported a LAB recycling rate of 99% between 2014 and 2018 here in the US.
LABs are the most recycled American product today, but how long did it take us to get there? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we recycled around 70% of LABs on average in 1985.
Back then, lead price was so low that recycling LABs wasn’t economically attractive. It’s not that different from what we’re seeing today. Yet, pushed by strategic legislation, it began to ramp up.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was one of the most important nation-wide regulatory drivers. Signed off by the US government in 1976, this law identified some “metals of concern”, including lead.
it took us another 15 years or so to really see the impact. In the early 1990s, several
states finally banned LABs from landfills. On top of that, local authorities implemented some
policies to build their recycling supply chains.
First, they required retailers to accept used LABs from consumers, who were charged a deposit for each new battery bought without returning an old one. Also, a take back program forced manufacturers to purchase recycled LABs from retailers.
The benefit of this was that recycling LABs remained profitable even when the lead price plummeted. And these policies worked. One year after introducing them, Rhode Island increased its LAB recycling rate by up to 40%, reaching a whopping 95% rate in 1990.
While that was a localized exception at that time, BCI estimated that we reached a 99% recycling rate on a national scale in 2011. A relatively simple chemistry and a well-established technology such as pyrometallurgical smelting supercharged LABs recycling rate over the years.
On the other hand, LABs conventional recycling process is neither eco-friendly or safe, as it consumes a lot of energy and releases lead and greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere, which is why researchers have been focusing on the development of a greener method over the last decade.
On that note, something interesting has already come out of the lab. Instead of relying on the traditional smelting at over 1,000 °C, ACE Green Recycling has designed an electricity-powered LABs recycling process.
They’re going to start building their first plant in Texas very soon, which is scheduled to go live by the end of 2023. It’s expected to recycle over 5 million LABs and avoid 50,000 metric tons of GHG emissions once they reach full capacity.
Funny enough, the startup is looking into using solar panels to power their whole facility…I wonder if they’ll recycle their expertise to promote PV module recovery too. The LABs example highlights how far-sighted policies can catalyze recycling efforts.
Clearly, from the technological point of view,
the solar panels case is a bit more complex. However, researchers, companies, and regulators
are working to improve the cost-to-revenue ratio.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the main economic
challenges is to recover the higher-value materials like silicon and silver. The current
method to etch pure silicon out of solar cells means using hydrofluoric acid, which is
highly toxic and corrosive.
Last November, Indian researchers came up with a safer and more cost-effective recipe, including sodium hydroxide, nitric acid and phosphoric acid as ingredients. Adopting a 3-step sequential procedure, scientists not only extracted 99.998% pure silicon but also recovered silver. As a result, they estimated that integrating their technique into the recycling process of a 1-kg solar cell would yield a profit of around $185.
Just a month later, a team including Arizona State University (ASU) researchers, the TG companies startup, and the energy firm First Solar received a $485,000 grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) for developing a process that recovers high-pure silicon and silver from PV cells.
So, what’s their silver lining? First, TG companies claim to have designed a heat treatment to boil off the EVA protective layer without damaging or contaminating the solar cell. Unlike conventional furnaces, their oven will operate at a temperature lower than 500°C, which prevents iron and copper from leaching into the solar cell.
At that point it gets a little fuzzy because they use their patent-pending secret sauce to isolate silicon and silver. Their CEO said they’ll rely on less harsh chemicals that can be regenerated indefinitely.
Having said that, as flagged by an industry expert, the startup may likely face material losses when separating silicon cells from their polymeric coating. It’s just a matter of waiting at least a couple of years to fact check their progress.
That’s when the startup is aiming to have their first pilot plant up and running, with a recycling target of 100,000 solar panels per year. Aside from research and private sector efforts, legislators need to do their part to power solar recycling, just like they did with lead acid batteries.
Europe has been a pioneer in this, labeling solar panels as e-waste since 2014. The Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive … known as WEEE … first defined the ‘extended producer responsibility’ concept.
In short, the regulation compels solar panel manufacturers to fund their own products recycling at the end of life. It also requires recycling 80% of the materials used in PV panels. This policy led to opportunities for the EU recycling market.
For instance, PV Cycle developed a recycling program to help manufacturers fulfill WEEE obligations. In February 2020, the EU-funded company recycled nearly 95% of solar module content in France, which is well above what’s required by WEEE.
They achieved this exceptional result by partnering with Veolia, who launched Europe’s first solar panels recycling plant in 2018. Leveraging robots, Veolia dismantles the solar sandwiches layer by layer and recovers silicon, silver, and other components.
It’s a completely different story here in the U.S. We’re light years behind. In America, the only law holding producers accountable for solar panel recycling won’t go live until 2025, which means consumers are still paying the price for it.
Although they aren’t shifting recycling costs and responsibilities from user to producer, California has switched their solar panel waste label from hazardous to universal hazardous in 2021.
Falling in this new category, PV modules collection, transport, and storage are subject to less stringent requirements. For instance, recyclers won’t have to perform any leaching tests, which is costly and time-consuming.
According to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), their regulation will trigger the recycling of at least 15% of the PV modules currently in use. However, some of the policy’s critics highlighted a couple of drawbacks.
First, the requirements for recycling PV modules are essentially the same as those for their disposal in a landfill. And that’s a big problem since the landfill is currently much cheaper.
In addition, California’s regulation doesn’t allow recyclers to apply the thermal and chemical methods commonly used today. While binding rules are lacking, in 2016 the SEIA introduced a voluntary recycling program similar to that run by PC Cycle in Europe.
As of 2020, a few manufacturers, including First Solar, had joined their initiative and helped them recycle over 4M pounds worth of PV modules and related equipment. Although recycling solar panels is currently an expensive process, it could pay off in the long run.
In a recent report, Rystad Energy estimated that the value of recycling solar panels materials could reach $2.7 billion in 2030. Multiply that 30x to get their 2050 overall market potential. The main drivers of this crazy growth would be rising energy costs, technological advancements, and regulatory push.
Speaking of rules, researchers from the National Renewable Laboratory (NREL) published a paper last year advising policymakers on how to create a financially viable solar panel industry. Their main suggestion was to subsidize the cost of recycling.
To be more specific, with a $18 incentive, we could profitably recycle 20% of our PV modules by 2032. And this could get even better as recycling technology becomes more efficient. In particular, recovering 94% of the silver and 97% of the silicon contained in the PV modules would be a significant profitability booster.
Giving a second life to all solar panel components would not only reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills but also shrink the demand for new materials. Besides boosting recycling profitability, regulations should make landfilling less convenient.
While being in its early days, new recycling technology could improve the recovery of PV modules’ precious materials such as silicon and silver. Although optimizing solar panels recycling may take us longer compared to LABs, it’s just a matter of time.
We’re actually seeing this type of recycling improvement happen in the lithium ion
battery market right now … but that’s a different video. What’s exciting is that, once the kinks
are worked out, this could lead to huge market opportunities.
It could be a win for the economy and the environment if we play our cards right. If you’d like to learn more about the science behind solar panel recycling, I’d strongly recommend checking out either the “Scientific Thinking” or “The Chemical Reaction” course at Brilliant.
They have fantastic interactive courses that can help you wrap your head around some of
what we talked about with solar panels. The chemical reaction course walks you through
how matter transforms from starting materials into other substances.
You’ll work through puzzles and patterns to determine the basic behavior of molecules undergoing chemical reactions. All of this plays a role in how we can install solar panels in Maine. I’ve been working my way through that one and am really enjoying learning at my own pace.
If you get stuck, Brilliant will give you in-depth
explanations, which helps you understand the “why” and “how” of something. And you’re learning the
concepts by doing it yourself and applying them through fun and interactive problems.
Thanks to Brilliant and to all of you for supporting the channel. So are you still undecided? Do you think solar panel recycling will catch up to the coming wave of solar panel waste? Jump into the comments and let me know and be sure to check out my follow up podcast Still TBD where we’ll be discussing some of your feedback.
If you liked this video, be sure to check out one of these videos over here. And thanks to all of my patrons for your continued support and welcome to new supporter + members Thomas Merritt and David R T Richardson, and producers Sergio Martinez and Andrew Peabody.
And thanks to all of you for watching.
I’ll see you in the next one.
It’s been almost 4 years since I had solar panels installed on my house, which is located in Massachusetts. In general they’ve been performing pretty close to what was promised, but last year threw us some curveballs that made me a little concerned.
I saw a pretty sharp decline in the amount of solar produced. Since my solar panels are nearing their 4 year anniversary, I thought it would be a good idea to share what I’ve learned living with solar panels in an area you might not think they’d be good for, as well as what happened last year.
Do I still think getting solar panels was a good idea? Let’s see if we can come to a decision on this. I’m Matt Ferrell … welcome to Undecided. If you haven’t seen my previous videos on my solar panel installation, I’ll include links in the description so you can check them out.
I won’t rehash everything from those videos, but in short, I live in the Boston area and have been documenting what it’s been like living with a 9.49 kW solar panel system in a colder climate.
My wife and I decided to get solar installed for two reasons: 1) reduce our electric bill and save money over time, and 2) get as much of our electricity from clean sources as possible. There’s no question where my electricity is coming from when it’s being produced on my roof.
You could probably also include a third reason to the mix, my Tesla Model 3. Charging up your EV with electricity that you generate yourself is pretty cool. I guess you could say the idea of energy independence is enticing.
My house has a few challenges. If you live in the northern hemisphere, it’s best to have a southern facing roof to maximize your solar production, but my house is oriented more east-to-west.
That’s why I have panels on both sides of my roof, so I can capture morning and afternoon sun. The
second issue is that my roof is pretty small. And finally, I have a fair amount of trees on the
western side of my house that start to block the sun in the mid-to-late afternoon.
Like I said, my house is a bit challenging for solar. For the past few years my solar panels have reduced our reliance on the grid by about 54%, which is what we expected given my home’s issues.
We’re still on track for the system to have paid for itself in savings by 2026 (it’s a 7-8 year payback), but there’s some wrinkles to that I’ll get to in a bit. First though, I’ve got to get into last year’s issues.
We saw a pretty steep drop in performance in 2021, but it’s really important to give these
numbers some context. If you don’t have solar, it’s easy to armchair quarterback and
ridicule solar as a waste of money.
Weather is going to be a huge factor in how well your solar panels work. The criticism is usually, if a meteorologist struggles to predict the weather a week out, how can you predict years of solar production.
On that first point about degradation, it’s absolutely true that you’ll see a decline year over year. However, if you have quality made panels from the major manufacturers, those panels will last 30+ years.
For these panels you’ll have warranties that guarantee minimal losses over the next 20 years, but that’s not end of life … that’s just the warranty period. In my case I have LG solar panels on my home that are guaranteed to produce at least 88.
4% of their original efficiency, which means you’re talking about a .5% drop each year. And that’s why I had to raise an eyebrow at last year’s numbers. My solar installer offered a 10 year production guarantee.
If my panels produce less than 95% of their projection, they’ll pay the difference
in the cost of electricity. They projected that we’d be producing close to 6,600
kWh each year for the first few years, but last year we produced only 6,479 kWh.
The year before we produced 7,293 kWh. So comparing 2021 to 2020, we saw an 11% drop in production. So yeah … I was a little perplexed, frustrated, with a dash of concern. To add to that our electricity use had increased slightly because my wife started working from home due to the pandemic, and our electricity prices had risen … a lot.
Back when we got the solar panels installed
we were paying about $0.24/kWh. Now we’re paying about $0.30/kWh. On average we use roughly
950 kWh per month over the course of a year, so you’re talking about going from a potential
bill of $228 a few years ago to $285 today.
That’s when the data nerd in me kicked into gear and I started crunching the numbers
to figure out what was going on. But before getting to what I found,
there’s some other numbers worth crunching.
I’ve been asked on previous solar panel videos how
much my home insurance went up with solar panels, and that really depends on your provider. My home
insurance didn’t change at all with solar, but we’re planning on moving at some point soon, so
we’ve been looking to see if there are some better deals for our home and auto insurance.
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to Policygenius and to all of you for supporting the channel. Now back to what I found
after digging into my solar production data. When looking at your solar panel production,
it’s important to not focus and obsess on the day-to-day numbers.
to be an incredible amount of volatility day to day depending on the weather.
Cloudy days, rain, snow, etc. It all depends, so you have to look longer
term when assessing how it’s performing and if it’s worth the cost of the system.
It’s the same
reason my solar installer does a yearly guarantee. Take a look at my monthly numbers year over
year and you’ll start to spot some clear trends. Summer is obviously going to be peak production
because of the increased daylight hours and the sun being at a higher angle in the sky.
During winter you have shorter days and a lower angle of sun. The yearly trend looks a lot
like a daily trend. Very low production in the winter and none at night, and a swell
during the summer months or middle of the day.
However, something should jump out at you
on this chart. The 2021 numbers between May and September are dramatically
lower than the years before it. I knew weather was going to play a role in how
effective my panels would perform, but I didn’t expect such a huge swing to happen year over
That’s when I pulled up the historical weather data for my area. If you overlay the
amount of precipitation on top of the solar production chart, the correlation is pretty clear.
Here in the New England area, 2021 was one of the warmest and wettest on record, especially if you
look at the July, August, and September data.
2021 was the third warmest on record going all
the way back to 1895. It was also the third wettest year on record and July 2021 coming in
as the wettest month on record. Massachusetts typically sees about 4 inches of rain in July,
but last year we saw an average of 10.
3 inches. So the mystery was solved for why 2021’s production was so low. It wasn’t anything wrong with my panels, inverters, or other hardware. Thankfully, if you look at what we’ve seen so far in 2022, everything is back to normal.
In fact, April’s production numbers were the best we’ve seen so far after four years of data. While you might think this challenged my belief in only vetting solar production numbers year to year vs. day to day, and that weather doesn’t really factor in too much long term, it hasn’t. 2021’s yearly number came in at 6,479.6 kWh with a prediction from my installer of 6,549 kWh. That prediction was off by about 1%, which really isn’t bad at all.
The variability in seasonal weather conditions is factored into historical data that solar installers pull from to make their future production numbers. And from what I’m seeing, it’s pretty accurate … even though I’ve seen wild swings between a couple of years.
2020 was about 10.8% higher than predicted. They worked out the prediction on the conservative side of what we might see. And that brings me to the giant question of, “do I still think it was worth it?” If you’ve watched my previous videos on my solar panels, you’ll know that I’ve said in each one of these that the answer is yes.
But you’ll also know that I always stress very hard that it’s going to depend on what your personal goals are. Anyone that tells you that solar panels are worth it no matter what should be ignored.
And the same is true from anyone that says solar panels are a scam and will never work. Solar panels are just one method of producing electricity and don’t necessarily make sense for every person in every location and situation.
For me, I live in an area without time of use electricity rates, but we do have net metering that pays back nearly a 1 to 1 credit on my electricity bill. So we bank some credits in the summer that wipe out our electric bills in those months and into the fall.
And during the winter we’re primarily pulling from the grid like anyone else. We also have solar renewable energy credits (SREC). We’re getting $126.22 a month in SREC credits for 10 years, so we’ll be seeing $15,146 from that.
That leaves us on the hook for $12,380 out of pocket for the cost of our solar panels. But then you have to look at the money we’re saving on our electric bill. We were spending about $2,600 a year on electricity, but we’ve been saving almost $1,500 a year with solar.
And since our electricity prices have risen to $0.30/kWh, our savings has actually gone up a little bit. All of that rolled together is how our solar panel system will pay for itself sometime in 2026, and the panels should easily go another 20 years or more after that, so they’ll be producing free, clean electricity at that point.
Again, I can’t say this enough, the warranty period is not the end of life for the panel. But here’s that wrinkle I brought up earlier about my specific return on investment. I’m not going to be living in my house in 2026.
I’m not going to be living in this house a year from now. My wife and I are building a new, modular, net zero home this year and will hopefully be moving in early next year. That means we’ll be selling our current home with the solar panels before they’ve returned on the investment, which means we’re only about halfway into that payback period.
Am I going to lose out on that money? Am I going to have a hard time selling my home with solar panels on it? On that first point, no, I’m not going to be selling my solar panels at a loss.
A home’s value actually increases with solar panels. It’s not that different from doing a kitchen or bathroom renovation. And solar panels are very popular in my area. Energysage has a great article that details the impacts to a home’s value.
According to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which used data from 8 states over an 11 year time period, you can expect to see $4 per watt of installed solar capacity added to the value of your home.
In my case, that could be a $38,000 increase. To me that sounds too high. But according to Zillow, they saw homes with solar panels selling for 4.1% more. And the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported seeing an increase in home value by $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills.
That math would work out to about $30,000 for my house, which isn’t that far off from the first study. The bottom line: the more money your solar panels save you on electricity, the more it increases your house’s value.
I won’t have to wait too much longer to find out if that holds true, so stay tuned to the channel if you want to hear how it went selling a house with solar, as well as a ton of videos around my upcoming house build.
So do I still think getting solar panels for my home was worth it. That’s a big yes. For my goals, which was saving money on electricity over time and ensuring my power was coming from a clean energy source, it ticked all the boxes.
system cost $20,727 after the Federal Tax Credit. By the time we leave this house, we’ll have
received about $6,000 in SREC payments. About $1,500 a year in electricity savings, so add
another $6000 on top of that.
We’ll have whittled the payback down to about $8,000 by the time we leave. And if the $30,000 increase in value holds true, the return on investment will have been well worth it … but that wasn’t my only goal.
Again, I did this for some energy independence and to ensure I was getting energy from a clean source. Would I recommend that you get solar? That’s tricky because I don’t know your goals, where you live, or what costs are in your area, so you’re going to need to do that evaluation for yourself.
But if you are thinking about it, don’t wait much longer. If you live in the US, the Federal solar tax credit is going to be dropping from 26% to 22% in 2023. Solar installers book up fast, so you really need to be scheduling installers now to ensure you get the panels installed before the end of the year.
I’ve been getting quotes for my new house and installers are already booked up through August and into September. So start looking today and evaluating if it’s the right choice for you. And on that note, you should check out EnergySage for great articles and reviews of solar equipment.
I’ve found them to be an amazing resource
when researching my current installation, as well as my next one. I also used Energysage
to find my installer on my current house. If you live in the US, check out my Energysage portal to
find installers in your area and get quotes.
Full transparency, this is an affiliate program, so I do get a small commission if you use my portal. But regardless of that, I love Energysage and find them a great resource. My favorite part of finding an installer through them is that you’re not giving out your phone number to get deluged with dozens of calls.
All of the quotes are delivered
to your Energysage account and are presented in a way that’s an easy apples-to-apples comparison
between installers. I strongly recommend it. So what do you think? Do you want solar for your
home? Jump into the comments and let me know.
If you liked this video, be sure to check out
one of these videos over here. And thanks to all of my patrons for your continued support
and welcome to new producers Michael Maxie, Greg MacWilliam, and J.
And thanks to all of
you for watching. I’ll see you in the next one.