Residential solar panels are becoming increasingly common across the United States. With pricing coming down, many consumers can now afford the initial cost outlay for solar panel installation, and many states are now offering tax breaks for residents who install solar.
If your customers are thinking about making the switch, make sure you’re in a position to advise them well. It means having a solid understanding of residential solar panels and the different types of systems involved.
The more you know about residential solar panels, the more value you can offer your clients. So, here is some information on how a residential solar panel system works and how your customers can benefit.
Types of Solar Panels
Solar systems available on the market today have some basic differences between them. Having the right information is necessary in order to assist your customers in determining the right system for them, based on their energy needs.
As the name suggests, this power system has a connection to the power grid. A whole system features solar panels, a power conditioning unit, one or multiple inverters, and equipment for grid connection.
Unlike a stand-alone unit, the grid-connected power system does not have a built-in battery storage unit, although some high-end, more-expensive models may have this option. There is a seamless switch between the solar system and the main grid. The produced excess power can be sold back to the utility, and power can be drawn from the grid when production is inadequate. This is managed through an inexpensive process called Net Metering that ensures the utility pays the retail price for the electricity fed back into the grid.
The grid-connected systems are suitable for small households, commercial facilities, and even large-scale solar power stations.
Grid-Connected System with Battery Back-Up
This is the same grid-connected system with the addition of a battery backup. When it comes to understanding residential solar panels — this system is likely the most comprehensive option, considering the balance it strikes between electricity production and demand. With the unit installed on a rooftop, customers will never have to worry about power outages. Additional electricity will be stored in the battery for later use, while the power grid is there to supply energy if there is any shortage.
The continuous charging and recharging of the backup batteries is a downside though, since it decreases the overall efficiency of the system. Also, this system is more expensive due to the complicated design and installation.
Isolated from the traditional electricity grid, an off-grid system uses batteries to store power for reserving excess production. Most units use a generator as a failsafe when the system cannot produce the required electricity or if the batteries are discharged. Generators come in handy in bad weather conditions when sunlight is scarce, and the panels cannot meet excessive demands.
An off-grid system is suitable for households that need a minimal amount of power or for remote places where solar panels are more cost-effective than extending lines from a utility grid. It’s also useful as a part of the hybrid power-generating network that also uses wind electric and hydroelectric systems.
Types of Solar Cells
Not all solar modules use the same solar cells. There are three categories, with differing characteristics and performance:
- Cells using monocrystalline silicon are highly efficient with a good heat-resistant rating. They also leave a very small footprint.
- The polycrystalline silicon cells are currently the crowd favorite for residential solar modules. They are better than monocrystalline cells when it comes to productivity and heat tolerance.
- Amorphous silicon cells are the least efficient of all the varieties. The low-end and inexpensive solar modules use these thin-film cells.
Know Before You Advise
The growing demand for residential solar panels in the United States has reduced the price and made them more affordable than ever. This dramatically increases the return on investment for customers, and since most units are good enough to produce more power over their lifetime to cover their initial cost, sales are at an all-time high.
Be sure you know the market, and the details of how to choose residential solar panels, before discussing any options with your customers. Don’t let your customers pour money down the drain by purchasing low-end products. They will perform poorly and deteriorate at a faster rate over time than their high-quality counterparts. Mid-range products offer a good balance between initial cost and long-lasting durability, while high-end models will be the best option for those that can afford it because of their high-efficiency ratings and long-term warranties.
This is just the start of understanding residential solar panels, of course. The more you’re able to know, the more info you can pass along to your customers to help them make decisions.
You can learn more about how solar energy works here.
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