How does solar power work with LGCY Power?
Solar panels are fueled by natural light from the sun. Each panel is made up of more than a dozen silicon wafers called solar cells. These are specially manufactured and chemically treated to convert light into energy. Collectively, panels are connected together into what’s called a solar system or solar array. This array takes the energy it produces and passes it through an inverter before it reaches your home. An inverter takes the direct current (DC) generated from your panels and converts it to AC or alternating current. Finally, AC power is then passed to your home through a circuit breaker (also known as a main panel) and made available to everything plugged into your home, like lights, TV, computers, and other appliances.
Why choose LGCY Power?
LGCY Power offers manufacturer warranties on panels and inverters, robust installation warranties, and monitoring and maintenance packages, so you’re well taken care of long after your energy savings start. The company wants you to receive the best savings, experience, and service; there’s a reason why LGCY Power has an A+ rating and is accredited with the Better Business Bureau.
LGCY Power has also been ranked as the Best Company to Work for in Utah Business Magazine, one of the fastest-growing companies in Utah, and a rising star in the solar field across the United States. The LGCY difference is simply that the company cares about its customers, and that is the firm’s guiding principle. LGCY hires the best people in the field, offers the best training, and partners with the best solar installers in the nation, so the people working on your home are second-to-none.
What makes LGCY Power different?
To start, the company understands that each homeowner is different, with different goals, needs, and even circumstances — like the structure and aesthetic of their home. Since no two homes or homeowners are alike, LGCY Power customizes our solar solutions to fit your needs. We also take a consultative approach, becoming your trusted advocate throughout the whole process. Our solar consultants take their time explaining every aspect of the solar process to you, answering all of your important questions and even covering questions you didn’t know to ask.
What are the disadvantages of solar energy?
While there are several significant advantages of solar energy — including the potential for both environmental and economic benefits — that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any possible disadvantages. One of these potential downsides is the fact that some parts of the country simply don’t receive much direct daily sunlight. This is due to the fact that sunlight itself isn’t enough to generate power. Rather, you’ll need to consider peak sun hours, which is the metric used to assess how many hours per day your solar panels will be able to function at optimal capacity.
Some parts of the country, like portions of California, Nevada, and Arizona, receive six or more peak sun hours per day, but the coastal regions of Washington and Oregon only receive three to four hours per day. If you live in a location without much sunlight availability, you may want to assess whether solar is the right answer for your energy needs.
Another disadvantage is the reliability of solar. Obviously, your panels won’t generate any energy at night, and the presence of clouds can also disrupt the efficiency of your solar system. In addition, solar energy can have steep setup costs, especially if you need to purchase a battery storage system. If you don’t have access to robust solar incentives and tax credits, your initial setup costs could total tens of thousands of dollars.
Finally, solar energy isn’t a terribly efficient form of power generation, as most solar panels are only 15 percent to 20 percent efficient — traditional forms of fossil fuel-generated energy can have much higher efficiency ratings.
Is residential solar cost-effective?
For many homeowners, installing a solar power system is a great way to save some money, while also protecting our environment. However, there are many variables involved that can skew the financial numbers either positively or negatively for you. Let’s discuss the different questions you need to answer in order to determine the cost-effectiveness of residential solar for your home.
The first major variable is how much you pay for electricity from your utility company. Depending on which part of the country you live in, you might pay as much as 20+ cents per kilowatt-hour for residential power, but other regions can be as cheap as 10 cents per kWh, or even lower. Obviously, the more you’re currently spending on your energy, the more money you can save with solar.
Next, you’ll need to consider how much you’ll have to spend setting up your solar system. There are many variables for this question, including the size and energy efficiency of your home, the amount of direct sunlight your home receives on an average day, whether you plan on buying or leasing your solar panels, and more.
Another vital question along these same lines is which incentives and tax rebates you might be eligible for in your location. Different locations around the country have different government incentives available that can make a major impact on your costs.
In short, residential solar power can definitely save money for many homeowners, but you will need to properly analyze your specific situation to determine how cost-effective a solar installation will be for you.
How are solar panels rated?
The wattage of a solar panel is based on the amount of direct current power it’s capable of producing in normal conditions — for example, in direct sunlight on days without rain. The first step is to examine the listed wattage capacity of the panel. As you might expect, more watts means more power, but there can be some other benefits to high-watt solar panels as well, like improved efficiency ratings. In addition, you won’t need as many panels to fulfill your power needs.
However, power output rating isn’t the be-all-end-all of choosing the right panels for your solar system. Sometimes, a higher power rating doesn’t reflect the efficiency of the panel but is instead a result of the panel’s physical size. For the most part, solar panels come in two varieties: 60-cell and 72-cell. 60-cell panels are roughly 3.25 feet by 5.5 feet, and they usually max out around 300 watts. As for 72-cell solar panels, they measure around 3.25 feet by 6.5 feet, and they can produce 350-400 watts.
This is where understanding efficiency ratings for solar panels is especially important. Most solar panels offer efficiency ratings somewhere between 15 percent at the low end and 20 percent at the top end. In general, the newer model your panel is, the higher efficiency ratings it’s likely to have, and better efficiency ratings mean more power potential.
The brand of solar panel you purchase can also have a significant impact on your total power production capacity. Brands like LG and Panasonic produce solar panels with efficiency ratings right around 20 percent, and these panels usually have electricity outputs in the 350-watt range. On the other hand, many other solar panels have average efficiency ratings in the 15 percent to17 percent range, with total outputs around 250–300 watts. This doesn’t mean LG and Panasonic’s offerings are objectively “better” — it’s all about finding the right solar panels for your specific needs.
Another important aspect of determining which solar panels to buy is how many hours of sun you typically receive. For this step, we recommend taking a look at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Solar Resource Data, Tools, and Maps” page. Here, you can find maps showing annual sunlight averages, monthly averages, direct normal irradiance, and more.
All you need to do to figure out the energy potential of your location is to multiply the wattage of your chosen solar panels by the number of hours you receive sunlight. If you buy a 300-watt panel, you could receive up to six hours of daily direct sunlight in some parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona, meaning that panel could produce 1,800 watts or 1.8 kilowatt-hours. However, if you install that same panel in parts of the Pacific Northwest, where there are only 3.5 sun hours per day, your total output would only come to 1,050 watts or 1.05 kwh.
So, which solar panels are the most powerful options? The highest efficiency ratings in the industry belong to the X Series by Sunpower (with an incredible 22.8 percent efficiency rating), along with REC Solar’s Alpha Series and LG’s High NeON, which both boast a 21.7 percent efficiency rating. As for pure power output, it’s tough to top Trina Solar’s 500-watt Duomax V and Tallmax V.
Do you need some more information before making your decision? LGCY Power can help you determine whether solar panel installation is the right choice for your home, and also figure out which panels to use, and how many. Highly-trained Energy Consultants can even visit your home in person to walk you step-by-step through the solar installation process.
What is a megawatt and what is a megawatt hour?
To begin, let’s outline how wattage is measured. A watt is a unit of power that’s used to determine the rate of an energy transfer. The more watts you have, the faster the electrons are flowing through your electrical system. One watt is equal to one joule per second of energy flow.
Take a 100-watt lightbulb as an example. The 100-watt rating means that this bulb consumes power at a rate of 100 joules of energy per second. If you turn on the light and leave it on for an hour, the lightbulb will consume 100 watt-hours. These rates are typically described in terms of kilowatt-hours — a kilowatt-hour is equivalent to 1,000 watt-hours, so our lightbulb example would come out to 0.1 kilowatt-hours.
If a kilowatt is a thousand watts, what is a megawatt? Much like a kilowatt is comprised of 1,000 watts, a megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts, or in other words, one million watts. The reason kilowatts and kilowatt-hours are the standard measurements for consumer electric bills is because megawatts are often simply too large a unit of measurement to apply logically to a home electrical system. However, energy utilities and solar providers will occasionally use the term megawatt-hour instead.
A megawatt-hour is typically abbreviated as “MWh,” and this term indicates the usage of 1,000 kilowatts in one hour. To put this into perspective, a couple of common small appliances you’ll find in most kitchens have a 1,000-watt rating — the microwave oven and the coffee pot. Because 1,000 watts equals one kilowatt, you would need to run your coffee pot continuously for 1,000 hours, without ever turning it off. This would end up using one megawatt-hour of energy.
How much energy does the typical American home use? In general, a modern home uses somewhere in the range of 11 megawatt-hours on an annual basis, which is why you’ll typically see kilowatt-hours on your monthly utility bill instead of megawatt-hours. After all, when you’re using less than one megawatt-hour per month, there are probably more suitable units of measurement to describe this level of energy output.
Solar providers will sometimes use megawatts and megawatt-hours when discussing their capabilities, simply because the sheer number of kilowatt-hours would get a bit overwhelming. There is actually another common unit of measurement beyond the megawatt as well, which is the gigawatt. As you might expect, a gigawatt is equivalent to 1,000 megawatts, one million kilowatts, or one billion watts.
Overall, the main thing you need to keep in mind about every level of watt and watt-hour is that — just like many other units of measurement in the metric system — these measurements escalate in terms of one thousand. There are 1,000 watts to a kilowatt, 1,000 kilowatts to a megawatt, and so forth.
When analyzing your personal energy needs — whether that’s for your home or your business — you’ll likely be dealing in terms of kilowatts and kilowatt-hours. Still, it’s always nice to have a level of familiarity when it comes to your total annual energy usage, which is a measurement where megawatts and megawatt-hours will be convenient terms to know.
Do you have any questions about megawatts or megawatt-hours? Or perhaps you’re wondering how much solar energy you would need to power your home or business? Give LGCY Power a call today. Its highly experienced and knowledgeable Energy Consultants can help you answer all of your tough questions about solar power.