You’ve heard about solar energy for many years. Homes and businesses are powered by it. Pools are warmed with it. Even whole towns are electrified by it. But if you ask two people exactly what it is, you’ll get two different answers. So, before we explain why installing solar panels is a good investment, let’s first agree on the one definition West Bay Energy uses to define exactly what solar energy is.
Solar energy is scientifically known as “electromagnetic radiation”. Simply put, it’s the light and energy that comes from the sun. We know it as our “sunlight”. The amount of solar radiation that reaches the earth varies, depending on your geographical location around the globe.
When solar technology and solar panels are constructed and then installed in the proper direction, they capture the sun’s radiation and convert it into different forms of energy. This energy can be used to power entire electrical grids, generators, solar hot water heaters, AC and home heating units, ventilation, solar lighting, portable solar for personal electronic devices, and solar transportation.
So, let’s look at some solar energy facts to understand just what “going green” can mean:
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 22,000-square-mile area of solar panels (approximately the same size as Delaware or Massachusetts) could generate enough electricity to power the entire country.
Solar panels can generate electricity for decades without producing carbon emissions. And once a solar panel finally reaches the end of its service life in say, 25 to 30 years, it can be recycled and made into other products or even into new solar panels, because it is made of recyclable aluminum, copper, and glass.
An hour and a half of sunlight on the earth’s surface is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for one full year.
Today, solar power has become the fastest-growing electricity source in the U.S., representing 54% of solar generation projects planned for all of 2023. The International Energy Agency predicts that worldwide solar energy generation could surpass natural gas by 2026 and coal by 2027.
Solar energy is the cheapest, most efficient, and the most abundant energy source on earth. And we won’t run out of it.
Texas ranks sixth, Florida ranks ninth nationally, and New Jersey eleventh in the strength of its solar resources, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Solar is a renewable source of energy that harnesses the power of the sun, which is inherently abundant, inexhaustible, and free. Unlike fossil fuels that can be exhausted by constant mining, pollute our atmosphere, and are a major cause of Climate Change, solar energy is a renewable “green” energy source that naturally regenerates over time and will not run out.
So, how do you utilize solar energy? There are two main types of solar energy technologies available on the market today: Photovoltaics or PV and Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power or CSP.
As a home or business owner, you would probably be more familiar with PV because it uses those black solar panels you see on the top of roofs or in an array on a piece of property. When the sun beats down upon one of those panels, the energy from the sun is absorbed into the PV cells that make up each panel. The solar cell then converts the sunlight directly into electricity. The electricity flows through the dedicated electrical field in the cell to power your home, your pool, your business, your corporate headquarters, or anything that takes electricity to run.
CSP, on the other hand, is primarily used in large power plants or to provide electricity to state- or city-wide power grids. It uses mirrors to reflect concentrated sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which then produces electricity. The heat and energy can be stored until needed.
Solar power in the states of Texas, Florida and New Jersey has become much more popular in recent years as the cost of installing solar power systems using PV, including the cost of the actual panels, has decreased.
Because both Texas and Florida have low electricity costs compared with some other states (New Jersey is above the national average), the individual homeowner and companies of all sizes can now invest in solar energy at a much lower and advantageous cost. Texas charges $.14 per kWh and Florida charges $.16, with eighteen other U.S. states, including New Jersey at $.19 per kWh, charging higher rates. And the Texas and Florida climate, with an abundance of sunshine, produces more solar energy than many other states in the country with New Jersey not far behind.
In addition, these three states, as well as others across the country, have some great incentives for homeowners and business owners who install solar panels. Tax exemptions, a federal 30% tax credit, and an aggressive net-metering policy (in Florida and New Jersey, but not Texas at this time), are just a few examples.
Net-metering is when your local power company allows its customers to connect their approved and renewable energy generation solar panels to the electric grid in order to buy and sell electricity back to the power company. For example, if a solar energy customer has a PV system installed to generate electricity for their home or business, it may generate more electricity than the building uses during daylight hours. That extra electricity can then be sold back to the power company and “banked” in your account.
Net-metering is basically an electric billing tool that uses the electric grid to store excess energy produced by your PV solar panel system. With net metering, the energy produced by your solar panels that you don’t use, is credited back to you.
On a cloudy, rainy day or snowy winter day in New Jersey when your panels may not produce enough energy to run everything in your home, your power and utility grid will automatically feed your home or business the necessary energy and count that usage against the credits you’ve banked in your account over time. As a solar energy customer, you will only be billed for your monthly “net” energy usage.
Adding a solar energy system to your home or company buildings means you will reduce your carbon footprint by relying on fewer fossil fuels. Instead, you will:
Help to save water because, unlike power plants that need water to feed the steam turbines that generate electricity, solar panels use little to no water.
Help to do your part in saving the environment. Because solar energy systems are a renewable energy source, they create zero carbon emissions and thus, no greenhouse gases.
Increase the property value of your home or company buildings. With savings on electricity bills and net metering credits, residential and commercial solar energy systems hold and maintain resale values. And according to a study conducted by real estate company Zillow, solar panels increase the appraised value of your home or commercial property by an average of 4.1%.
Take advantage of energy producing panels that are low maintenance. Because they have no moving parts and basically just sit on your roof or in an array on your property gathering solar energy, solar panels have an average lifespan of 25 years. As long as you clean them occasionally, the investment is worth it.
Solar energy systems, especially in sunny states like Texas and Florida, can produce maximum savings on your electric bill. And because solar panel costs have fallen significantly in the last year, installations are more accessible. In the states of Texas and Florida, solar installation costs are some of the lowest in the country. New Jersey is higher.
Are there disadvantages of installing a solar energy system for your home or business?
They are 100% fully dependent on sunshine (not a big problem in Texas or Florida, or even in New Jersey).
Some roofs are not conducive for solar panel installation, so panels are constructed in an array somewhere on your property which you might find unsightly (you can surround the panels with low bushes and other greenery).
Solar energy systems have some limitations. They cannot generate electricity at night or on a rainy day and it’s difficult to relocate solar panels once they’re installed (that’s the beauty of net metering with on-demand solar energy available to you from your “banked” energy. And with an average of 220 to 293 days of sunshine in Texas, about 240 days per year in Florida, and 203 days of sun in New Jersey, solar power in these states is a very logical investment).
Solar panel installation done wrong could create holes in the roof that may lead to water leakage in your attic or leaks down into your home or business interior (make sure you pick a qualified, licensed, and insured installation company—like West Bay Energy–to install your system).
The battery storage system options for storing solar energy as electrical energy are expensive (but prices are going down as supply and demand increase).
So, do the pros outweigh the cons? Here at West Bay Energy in Pinellas Park, Florida, we think they do. And we offer competitive pricing and a selection of programs tailored to the needs of you, the home or business owner. We are known for our quality of workmanship and customer service.
As an established solar panel and clean energy technology company, West Bay Energy strives to help our clients achieve maximum energy production for their homes or businesses, while doing our part in protecting the environment and reducing our client’s monthly energy bills. We maintain an ethical sales culture and are proud of our company’s positive environment.
West Bay Energy is the preferred provider of solar energy system design, sales, installation, contracting work, and panel cleaning services throughout Texas, Florida, and New Jersey, with more states to come in the near future. Our designers, engineers, and technicians are all full-time employees who are experienced experts in solar panel installation.
In fact, our team of highly skilled technicians are considered #1 among true solar panel installers. Because each installer must be approved through an intensive background check, and are fully trained in solar panel installations, we can assure you that our team is held to the highest standards. And all our installers and electricians are fully licensed and insured.
At West Bay, we specialize in all aspects of solar panel installation, including custom system design, panel-to-roof installation, customer support services, explanation of solar incentives, and more. If you’re considering changing to a solar energy system, make sure you give us a call for a no obligation quote. No matter what the size of your job, or whether it’s your home or your business, we apply the highest quality of work to the design and installation of our solar panels.
We always put our customers first, making sure you are backed by flexible financing, excellent warranties, and stellar customer service. At West Bay Electric, we strive to get maximum savings for our customers, while doing our part to save our environment.
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