A Better Life,
A Brighter
Future
Solar Panels

Solar Panels

Solar panels are the star of the show when it comes to renewable energy. For homeowners looking to save money on energy bills or switch to a more sustainable power source, solar panels are a great place to start. Here’s everything you need to know about solar panels, from how they work to how to choose the best panel for your home.

How Solar Panels Work

Solar panels use the sun’s energy to generate electricity. There’s enough light hitting Earth all the time to meet the planet’s energy needs, with plenty left over. At its smallest level, light– and all other electromagnetic radiation– takes the form of a particle called a photon. Think of a photon as a little packet of energy radiating out from a radiation source (like the sun). Photons bounce off of objects or are absorbed, allowing us to see.

Photons have no electric charge by themselves, but solar panels can create it. Solar panels are covered with photovoltaic (PV) cells which absorb photons from sunlight. These PV cells, usually made of silicon, consist of two layers, one positively charged and one negatively charged, stacked on top of each other. When a photon hits the material, it knocks some electrons loose. Those electrons flow and accumulate, creating a DC electric current which can then be inverted into DC power for use in a home, stored in a battery, or passed onto the electrical grid.

How Solar Panels Work
  1. Solar panels convert photons into DC energy. Photons from solar radiation collide with PV cells on solar panels, knocking loose electrons that form a DC electrical current.
  2. Inverter converts DC energy into usable AC power. The inverter takes the DC current generated by solar panels and converts it to AC power, which is usable in the home.

  3. Excess production is stored or passed back to the grid. Excess power can either be sent back onto the grid (which usually generates credits through net metering) or stored in a battery.

Why Install Solar Panels?

Save Money

Start saving as soon as your panels start producing and reducing (or eliminating) the amount of power you have to buy from the utility

Live More
Comfortably

Enjoy more of the comforts of your home without guilt or worry about skyrocketing energy bills

Produce
Clean Power

Solar panels generate clean power from the sun’s rays – meaning that much less coal needs to be burned to power your home

What to Look For In A Solar Panel

Wattage

Solar panels are rated in wattage for how much energy they can generate. Picking higher-wattage panels means you need fewer panels to meet your energy needs, while lower-wattage panels can deliver a great bang for your buck if your roof space is plentiful.

Manufacturer's Warranty

Solar components from reputable brands come with a manufacturer’s warranty against manufacturing defects or malfunctions. Zenernet also offers a workmanship warranty to cover any damages or defects to your system or your home caused during the installation process.

Degradation
Rate

Like anything else, solar panels suffer wear and tear. Degradation rate is the rate at which solar panels become less productive over time. Most panels degrade at a rate of less than 1% per year.

Aesthetics

Looking good never hurts. You take pride in your home, inside and out, so make sure you choose attractive panels you’ll enjoy seeing on your roof for years to come.

Need help finding the right solar panel?

The State of Solar Supply Chains

The global supply chain disruptions that have been taking place since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 are still a factor in the solar industry. Solar system components and the raw materials used to manufacture them have become more expensive to procure and more logistically difficult to ship. These disruptions, along with increasing competition, have led some “big name” solar panel manufacturers to pull out of the market, and present big problems for some solar installers. The fact is that some in the industry like to build their sales pitch to homeowners around the idea that the brand or brands of solar components they sell are “the best” – only to now find themselves unable to secure a supply from their preferred brands.

At Zenernet, we don’t mind saying that we don’t worry much about brand names. Although we’ve worked with many great solar manufacturers, the differences between panels has become more and more marginal as solar technology has matured, to the point that solar panels are essentially a commodity. The gap in performance between one brand’s panels and another’s just isn’t noticeable in day to day use. Homeowners can be confident that any modern solar panel will be highly efficient, last for decades, and look good on their roof. Far more important is the quality of the hardware used to mount the panels and the professionalism of the work done during the installation. Substandard mounting hardware or faulty installs can lead to roof damage and costly repairs. The best mounting hardware uses a raised roof seal encased in marine-grade aluminum to prevent erosion of the rubber seal between the roof and the solar panels.

We like to give homeowners choices, but our top priority is making sure that we can deliver what we promised. We want to avoid a situation where a homeowner selects certain components during the initial consultation process, and then weeks down the line we have to tell them that their install will be delayed or that they have to select different components, possibly affecting the price of the system, because their picks are no longer readily available. That’s why we’ve started limiting the selection of solar components based on the brands and models based on current availability. We think it’s the correct decision in view of our goal to deliver the best customer experience in solar – ensuring that homeowners can be confident they’ll get the system they paid for with a minimum of delays or complications. Because we don’t try to set ourselves apart or upsell homeowners by touting a particular brand name, we can focus on delivering solar systems that meet our customers’ needs and budget, are installed on schedule, and are made to last.

How to Decide If Solar Is Right For You

  1. Evaluate Your
    Energy Usage
  2. Determine Target
    System Size
  3. Assess Roof Space
    & Sun Exposure

By examining your energy usage over the course of the past year, you can figure out how much energy you need to generate from solar to achieve a meaningful “offset” of your utility bill. This will allow you to determine the size of your system as a function of panel wattage and the number of panels you’ll need to install. Then you can consider whether your home has enough roof area with good daily sun exposure to support the projected system. With all these variables known, you’ll be able to understand the cost of going solar and be able to compare it to the cost of buying energy from the utility, at whatever rates it sets, for the next couple of decades.

Solar Panel Incentives

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

The biggest active solar panel incentive in the United States – allows homeowners to claim a tax credit of 26% of the cost of any new solar installation project. The ITC was originally slated to step down to 22% at the end of 2020, but was extended at the current value through 2022.

State & Local Incentives

Many states and localities offer additional money-saving incentives for going solar. A Zenernet energy consultant can help you understand all of the incentives available to you depending on where you live.

Solar Investment Tax credit on the verge of extension

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The federal solar investment tax credit was set to expire at the end fo 2021. A proposed extension through 2023 passed through Congress on Monday.

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Everything you need to know about shopping for solar – the questions to ask, the factors to consider, and much more.