Solar power will significantly reduce your monthly electricity bill. Any excess power that your renewable energy source generates can be sold back to your local utility company at peak prices if you have a net metering agreement.
For a typical installation, the photovoltaic (PV) panels or modules comprise around 60 percent of the total cost. PV modules are rated in watts based on the power they produce. The average household requires a power system that produces between 3 to 5 kilowatts (kW) of energy. However, a 1 kW unit will be enough to illuminate all your lights and run your TV, DVD/Video player, microwave and toaster.
With an average cost of $5 per watt, a typical household will require an investment of at least $15,000 to $25,000. And the PV units will account for $9,000 to $15,000 of the upfront cost.
For example, let’s take the popular Sharp PV cell which has an energy rating of 208 watts. A 3 kW unit will require an array of 15 of them in series to deliver the electricity required. Retail price for the Sanyo is around $1,000 each.
By buying your panels, you save time and frustration but this is a very costly option.
You can build your own solar panels without having to spend thousands while saving yourself up to 80% on your utility bill. You can also find cheap (chipped or blemished) or used PV modules on sale at eBay.
The crucial know-how you need to learn is how to construct each module and connecting a series of them together. Before starting, you should check that you have the right tools for the job such as a soldering gun, spanner and a screwdriver.
There are many do it yourself (DIY) guides available on the Internet to help you plan and make affordable PV panels for about $200. Earth 4 Energy is one such product and with this inexpensive guide, you can get the job done quicker.
Leasing your solar system is a recently available alternative. Depending on your situation, this might be a better investment than buying your PV modules because you don’t have to come up with the large payments upfront. You save money on your electric bill every month so you’re cash positive from day one. And all repairs costs are covered under the lease terms.
For example, a home with a monthly electricity bill of $250 and leasing a 4 kW unit will be able to generate enough electrical power to offset $150 of the total amount from the local utility company. The lease payment would be $125 so your savings are $25 a month.
Some leasing companies guarantee your system will perform as promised or they will pay you the difference. Not bad if you’re a hands-off kind of homeowner.