Are you thinking about going solar? You’re not the only one! Solar panels have been in use since the 1880s. But of course, in the 2020s, certain types of solar panels have really been gaining popularity. And that’s for good reason. Today’s solar panels can gather more energy than in previous decades and continue to get more efficient.

If you’re considering joining your neighbors in making the switch to solar, you probably have a couple of questions. Gathering as much information about solar panel arrays before you install your own is a great idea. We put together some of the questions we most often hear from homeowners. Here, you can learn from the pros at Steel City Solar and understand more about this alternative eco-friendly energy source.

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels, which consist of a series of photovoltaic or PV cells, convert the sun’s rays into electricity. When energy from the sun is absorbed by the PV cells, it creates an electrical current, which can then be used to power your home.

Solar systems generate direct current (DC) electrical power, and most homes and the appliances in them run on alternating current (AC) power. Your solar panels are connected to an inverter which changes the direct current to alternating current. Then it’s sent to the outlets in your home to be used as power.

How many solar panels will I need?

There are several factors that come into play when determining how many solar panels your home or business will need… They include variables such as:

  • How much power your property uses every month
  • The efficiency rating of the solar panels.
  • How big your roof is
  • The position of your property

Although every situation is different, we can offer some estimates. If your house needs 5000 watts of power each month, you can expect to need around 20 panels. This translates to needing 300 square feet of space on your roof. Ideally this area faces south, as southern-facing roofs receive the greatest amount of solar radiation throughout the day (in the northern hemisphere, that is).

Are solar panels expensive to maintain?

Solar panels are relatively inexpensive to maintain. The biggest responsibility is regular cleanings. You may only have to clean them annually depending on where you live. It’s a good idea to contact a professional to come and perform the cleaning, especially if your roof is steep. This cleaning generally only needs to be performed annually. Other than cleaning, you don’t have to do anything else to your solar panels unless you notice some sort of problem. Solar panels usually come with a warranty of 10 to 25 years for materials and parts.

How are solar panels affected by rain and clouds?

One of the biggest myths about solar panels is that they don’t work when it’s cloudy outside. Some homeowners that live in an area where it’s often cloudy or foggy may think that choosing solar power isn’t worth it because they won’t work in that environment. But the truth is that solar panels can still absorb sunlight even on cloudy days. Solar panels still produce approximately a quarter of their normal output when it’s cloudy and even a small amount if it’s raining. Thankfully, here in sunny Colorado, we don’t have to worry about this so much as we’re well above the national average for sunny days.

During inclement weather events, solar panels operate just as they do at night. Since your property is still connected to your energy grid, energy is drawn from here, just like it did before your solar panel installation. But unlike with a traditional grid, solar panels give you the option to add on a battery back-up. This device allows your home to stay powered even if the local power grid goes down.

Can snow or hail damage solar panels?

Solar panels are specifically designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. They’re tested to last through one-inch diameter sized hail stones (that’s a really big hail ball!) falling at a high rate of speed.

Colorado has had its share of hail storms. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) once experienced a severe hail storm. They have thousands of solar panels in their facility and in the end, only one was broken!

If it snows, the panels can be covered which can impede their ability to absorb light. There’s good news there. It generally doesn’t take long for snow to melt off of solar panels. That’s because solar panels are dark-colored and installed at an angle. The dark coloring absorbs heat which helps melt the snow faster. As the snow melts it slides off the panels and naturally drains off the roof.

What is net metering?

Most cities’ power company grids have programs in place to buy back the excess energy generated by solar systems. Most of the homes with solar panels generate more energy than they use, so the homeowners are paid for it!

Net metering is a program where homeowners who create solar energy and are connected to the power grid can send any excess energy back to the grid. The homeowner receives credits from the power company and the energy is used to offset the load to their neighbors. Any electricity that exceeds what is needed to power your house is used for the community. Many homeowners who produce more energy than they use enjoy cashing a check from the energy company at the end of the year. We can’t think of a sweeter role reversal. Can you?

How much money can I save by switching to solar?

The exact dollar amount you may save by going solar can vary. But if you install efficient panels in Colorado you may save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home. The savings will depend on a few factors:

  • The upfront cost of the system
  • Size, pitch, and orientation of your roof
  • Direct hours of daily sunlight in your area
  • The efficiency of the solar panels
  • Size of the solar system

By installing a solar system on your property you’ll make your home an energy producer. You’ll also be helping your community and reducing your carbon footprint. By reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, we not only protect the environment but create new jobs in Colorado!

Which types of solar panels would work best for my home?

Would you like to learn more about how much you can save on your energy bills utilizing solar power? Contact Steel City Solar today for a free estimate at 719-569-5166 or visit our website. Our award-winning team will be happy to visit your Pueblo, Colorado area home, and answer all of your questions while walking you through the solar panel installation process.