Home Solar Panels
Whether you want to disconnect yourself from the grid in your area, or would like solar power to muscle a good portion of your energy consumption, a
home solar panel may be for you. Depending largely on where you live in relation to the equator, and the efficiency rate of the panel you purchase, a solar pv array for your home can provide at least 20% to 30% of the power you use in a day, and in most cases much more. On a sunny day, even in northern climates like Canada, an efficient solar array can even produce more energy than your home requires. Plus, there are other solar energy sources you can use to provide heat, like a solar thermal array that will heat your pool and provide domestic hot water.
Home solar panels are pretty much the same as those employed in commercial use, except that they are generally smaller as they feed energy to smaller buildings. If you are connected to your local grid, however, you will want to set up a net metering agreement with the local utility company, so that you sell any excess energy you receive from your solar array during the day, and buy it and any extra energy you may use back from the power company at night.
"It's kind of like
"banking" electricity to use for later.
Storing your Energy
Most solar set up require some kind of energy storage system if you want to get the most energy you can out of them. Because solar and wind energy sources are intermittent and energy is (with currently available technology) only harnessed during the day, storage is necessary if you live off the grid. You can store the energy yourself, if you live off grid, with a battery or solar water storage set up, but seeing as it's less expensive to have your local grid store it for you, it's definitely beneficial to negotiate net metering with them. Batteries also can only store a certain percentage of the energy produced by your solar array, so you will save more energy if your utility company uses it.
"There are usually local bylaws that govern how net metering operates in any given area, so you will likely want to look them up before you install your set up."
If you don't approve of the aesthetic of having a large solar panel mounted to your roof, there is also the option of solar shingles, which look pretty much exactly like regular roof shingles, except that they are wired to your electrical system below.
Thus far, silicon-based solar arrays are generally the cheapest to manufacture, so are the most popular on the market. While they are slightly less efficient than other variations, they are less expensive to buy which makes them appealing to home-owners, who usually don't want to invest too much into an alternative energy source.