PRLog - June 17, 2009 - WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Solar panels are not inexpensive. That said it's important to compare them within context of other types of home improvement projects. Home buyers and realtors view a solar photovoltaic or solar hot water heater as a significant value-added improvement - similar to adding a deck or remodeling your kitchen. Plus unlike a deck or kitchen remodel, you also gain one-up on your power bills.
Solar panels often get an additional financial boost as well: many jurisdictions and utilities across the USA offer attractive financial incentives to drive down the upfront capital costs associated with a solar panel.
Here are some foolproof ways to estimate the cost of a solar photovoltaic and to figure out if a solar panel makes sense for you.
Calculate your home's electricity needs:
To get started, it's good to have a sense of how much electricity you use. You'll have a better point for comparison if you find out how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you use per day, per month, per year. Your utility bill should include that information.
Of course, the utility bill will also display your costs and many utilities include a graph that displays how your monthly energy use/cost varies throughout the year. That helps you estimate where your highest energy use is and at what time of year.
Size your system:
In general, solar photovoltaic systems sized between 1 to 5 kilowatts are usually sufficient to meet the electricity needs of most homes. One advantage of grid-tied systems is that you can use solar PV to supplement or offset some of your electricity needs; therefore you can size your system to match your budget and always add to the system later if needed.
Also as a side note, here's a rule of thumb to remember to help you estimate the physical space your PV system might need: one square foot yields 10 watts. So in bright sunlight, a square foot of a conventional photovoltaic panel will produce 10 watts of power. A 1000 watt system, for example, may need 100 - 200 square feet of area, depending on the type of PV module used.
Run the numbers:
Although the cost for a solar PV system will depend on the size of the system you intend to install, your electricity rate, the amount of kilowatt hours you expect to generate, and the state/local rebates/tax credits that may be available, the formulas for calculating the returns are pretty much the same
For those who appreciate having the formulas, use the ones listed below to do a quick ballpark estimate of how much a solar photovoltaic system might cost you.
Retail Price for Solar Photovoltaic System
+ Building Permits
- $2,000 Federal Tax Credit
- State or Local Tax Credit or Rebate
- Utility Rebate or Other Incentive
= Net Investment
Kilowatts of electricity generated from PV per year
x Kilowatt hours used per year
= Annual Kilowatt energy from the PV system
Annual Kilowatt energy from the PV system
x Current Residential Electricity Rate
= Annual $$ Saved
Yearly Excess PV Energy Produced
x $$ credit applied per watt
= Annual Value from Net Metering
You may want to work with a solar power contractor to size and price the right system for you. As it is true with any major purchase, don't hesitate to ask for several bids from different contractors.
Many solar power providers will provide you with a comprehensive estimate. Helpful information to know includes:
• Total cost to make the system operational (labor cost for design and installation and equipment costs)
• Equipment (Make and Model)
• Warranty info
• Permit costs, if needed
• Tax, where applicable
• Federal tax credits
• State or local jurisdiction tax credits or rebates
• Utility rebates
• Expected Renewable Energy Certificates or Net metering credits
• Expected operation and maintenance costs
• Projected savings
Visit us If you are interested to learn more about how to:
Build a solar panel: http://www.greenearth4energy.com/
Build a solar hot water heater: http://www.greenearth4energy.com/
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Andy O Silliven is an engineer and author in the fields of electrical engineering. He enjoys writing about the topic and keeping up with current events and research in the area of renewable energy sources.