Many homeowners have dreamed of a day of being free from needing a connection to the public electricity utility. Innovative types have tried everything to make it happen. Solar power may not require any moving parts like wind generators do, but it is not for everyone. Solar power may be affordable to meet the minimum power needs for lighting and powering a couple of small appliances. However, installing a system to power every electrical appliance in a home can be very costly.
Most Solar Home Are Still Connected to Public Utilities
Solar power relies on the sun to generate electricity. Well, the sun is not shining on the panels at night so that electricity has to be stored in large battery arrays. Batteries do not have moving parts, but they do wear out and need regular replacement. The batteries produce flammable hydrogen gas when they are charging or discharging. This requires that they be stored away from the main structure of the house.
A solar power system to provide an adequate supply of electricity for a home at all times is possible, but it is unlikely to be affordable. Therefore, most homes that have solar panels are connected to the public utility grid to have power on demand when the solar power cannot keep up. Prolonged times of little sun such as the winter months and several rainy days in a row would have the normal power needs of an average home deplete what is stored in the batteries in little time.
Consider the Costs and Returns of Solar Power
A high end solar power system for an average home can cost $50,000. If your electric bill runs $100.00 per month, it will take almost 42 years to recoup the cost that would have been spent on power company generated electricity. Figuring a generous lifetime of Renewable Energy Certificate credits, rebates and feed- in tariffs of $10,000, and the system still takes 33 years to pay for. It would take fifteen years if your electric bill is $200 a month.
If you are adding solar power as a way of contributing to green energy, that is a noble goal. If you need it because the electric service does not reach your home, that makes it a necessity. However, if it is being done to save on the electric bill, be sure to carefully do the math for the long term before committing to having it installed.