Is Solar Power Right for You?

Here’s the scoop on figuring out how much solar panels will cost, how much you can save, and what to know before you install a photovoltaic system for your home.

| Feb. 17, 2009

  • Solar Roof
    Solar-electric panels on a south-facing roof in Brooklyn, Mass.
  • Solar Shed
    This roof-mounted solar-electric system is located on a garage in Block Island, R.I.
  • Ground Mounted Solar
    Solar-electric panels for a home in New Hampshire. The roof of this house was shaded by large pines, so a freestanding system was installed instead.
  • Colorado Solar
    An off-grid solar-powered home in Golden, Colo.
  • Solar Roof in Florida
    A solar-electric system is integrated into the metal standing-seam roof of this house in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
  • Solar Porch
    Photovoltaics integrated into a solar awning over a back porch in California.

  • Solar Roof
  • Solar Shed
  • Ground Mounted Solar
  • Colorado Solar
  • Solar Roof in Florida
  • Solar Porch

Have you ever wondered whether a solar-electric system is right for your home? There are a lot of good reasons to consider solar power. It’s a great choice for the environment, because with photovoltaic (solar-electric) panels you can get your electricity from clean, renewable solar energy, rather than polluting fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. In most circumstances, installing solar panels can also save you a lot of money.

To figure out whether solar-electric panels make sense for you, start by considering these questions:

1. Do you have a sunny, south-facing space to mount solar panels? Chances are you do, because there are a lot of options (check out the Image Gallery for examples).

2. How much will it cost for a solar-electric system that meets your needs?

3. Will solar power save you money in the long-term?

The last two questions are the trickiest. To begin with, you’ll need to decide if you want a grid-connected system, or if you would prefer to be “off the grid,” and completely independent of the electric utility. (More about those options here.)

1/3/2010 4:48:43 PM

How do we calculate usage and cost if we intend to be off the grid? We will be building a new home and will not be connected to the grid. Is air conditioning possible?

Scott Cronk
6/1/2009 9:39:02 PM offers some very useful online solar estimating tools. They cover solar electric (PV), solar water and solar pool heating. The solar calculator also includes all solar incentives and a nice financial analysis including payback.

David Rickenbacher
4/22/2009 1:46:02 PM

I am wondering if I can run our electric range,dryer, and furnaces on solar or windpower..... Thank you for any help....


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