As eco-friendly solutions to energy conservation make their way into the public sphere, the idea of solar power – although the concept has been around for quite some time – has recently become a more viable option for homeowners looking to cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint. However, there are still many questions being asked about residential solar power roofing systems, and whether one of these systems is right for you depends on a number of factors.
To help you determine whether or not a solar power system is right for your home’s roof, here is some information concerning ‘frequently asking questions’ about these energy-saving investments.
What is a Residential Solar Power Roofing System?
These roof-mounted plates or shingles are designed to help homeowners generate their own electricity right at home. They can connect with an existing utility service, and installation will include the mounting and wiring of solar modules, all the necessary plugs and wiring, power electronics, and special mounting kits that may differ between companies. You will typically not be able to install these units yourself – many bylaws simply prevent it.
The solar cells inside the solar modules actually convert the accumulated sunlight directly into DC power. Your system will have something called an inverter which then converts the DC into AC, which is usable inside your own home.
When the solar power system is connected with your utility grid, most utilities can credit you for excess power that was generated throughout the day – which is where the cost reduction comes in. If your utility provider will not allow grid connection, you can always use a battery backup instead to store the power.
When Does the Solar Power System Work?
Though the system won’t work at night, cloudy days will still see power generated – though perhaps only half as much as on a bright, clear day. The effectiveness of your system also depends on your home’s orientation and where it’s mounted.
All systems need at least 120 square feet for the smallest units, increasing with size according to the home, and are optimally placed on a south-facing roof for best results. East and west-facing roofs also work, but it you are in a situation where your roof is obstructed by trees or something else, installing a system may simply not be practical.
If there is shade on your roof where the system would go, you may need to rethink the installation. Solar modules need to receive full sunlight on the entire area in order to function correctly – if even a portion is shaded, the power production will be drastically reduced, and likely not worth the cost you put into installing the system.
Will My System Provide All My Electricity?
While some systems can be specially designed to allow your home to be independent of the grid, it isn’t typically recommended. You should also note that your solar power system doesn’t need to provide all the electricity you use in order to be cost-effective – normally, cutting your electricity bill by 40-50% is the best approach. If you’re using battery backup, a power shortage will allow you to continue using power for days, or perhaps even weeks, with this amount of energy replacement.
The amount of power your system will produce also depends on the size of your solar power system, your climate, the orientation of the system, and whether or not you have a battery backup in place.