Personal Solar: 4 Steps to Powering Your Home or Business With Solar

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The planet faces a host of environmental problems, one of which is thinly stretched resources. One resource, however, that is available in abundant supply is sunlight. Using sunlight as the main source of electricity in a home or business saves money and helps the environment. What are some practical things you can do to start taking advantage of solar power?

Do the Math

One of the first steps in going solar is figuring out how much power you use daily. Take a look at your recent power bills. Divide the total number of kilowatt-hours you used during the month by the number of days in the month to figure out your average daily power consumption. You will use that number when doing further calculations to get a rough idea of how many panels you need.

The average number of sunny days per year where you live also plays a role in calculating your solar system setup. For example, a home in Seattle is likely to need more solar panels than a home in Los Angeles to get the same amount of power.

Because there are many factors to consider when planning your solar power system, you may want to talk to a pro to get an expert opinion on the size of your system and its set up.

Prepare the Area

Your home or office’s immediate surroundings can have a big impact on your system’s efficiency. For example, a lot of tall trees in the area can block sunlight and sabotage your system’s effectiveness. Consider altering the surroundings so the solar panels will receive direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.

Your system’s efficiency will also be affected if tall buildings surround your location. If you are serious about going solar, you may need to move or find someplace nearby where you can set up exterior solar panels.

Install and Enjoy

Image via Flickr by Mike Linksvayer

Costs vary, but hiring a professional to install a 7.5 kWh system can set you back anywhere between $50,000 and $75,000. That seems steep, but taking advantage of tax credits for installing solar power can go a long way toward mitigating the cost. Over time the savings that you see on your energy bill will make solar power worth the investment.

If you do not want to buy your system, you can find a company that rents out the panels. You pay a monthly fee for use of the panels, but you would still save money on your electricity costs.

Maintain Your System

Solar panels do not require complicated or frequent maintenance. Howstuffworks.com points out that, “Pretty much the only thing a homeowner needs to do is keep the panels clean. It’s an important task, though… Dust buildup can reduce the amount of electricity produced by the system by as much as 7 percent.” Using a hose from the ground to clean the panels should do the trick.

It takes some effort to set up a solar power system for your home or business, but once it is in place you will see the benefits in your bank account. Mother Nature won’t object either.

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