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Solar Panels: There is a Better Way

There is no question that solar panels are a terrific way to cut energy costs, reduce your carbon emissions and make you more self-sufficient. There can be no argument about that.

These magical devices harness the energy of the sun and convert it to another type of energy. Generally the power that results can be used to heat your home, for example, or to power anything from your electric shaver to your computer.

As a result, solar panels are now becoming extremely popular in urban areas, where alternative energy advocates and lawmakers are creating incentives for this friendly and quiet alternative energy source.

The state of Colorado, for example, has been offering huge rebates on the up-front cost to acquire and install a residential solar power system.

Solar panels have other advantages. They normally are maintenance free, for one thing, and many manufacturers will guarantee electrical output for as long as 20 years.

Plus, after the panels are installed, any excess energy from the system – that is, energy left over after all of your needs have been met – can be diverted for use on the grid, where it is bought back by the electrical power company.

Which means there may be times when you are actually making income from your panels.

You’ll have to be patient, however.

With rebates factored into the initial cost, it generally will take from 17 to 24 years to get back the initial expense, at which time you will essentially be generating power from the sun at no cost.

And there are other factors – maybe I should say “little known” factors – about solar panels that may make them less than desirable for some folks.

One such factor is that solar panels actually may initially contribute to greenhouse emissions.

How so?

Well, it takes power to manufacture a solar panel. And the energy that requires very often is fossil-based and front-end loaded. So there is a time during which a solar panel actually adds to carbon emissions rather than detracting from them.

Until such time as a solar panel has produced energy equivalent to the energy used to manufacture it (its fossil-emission payback period) it in effect contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This fossil-emission payback period is generally considered to be five to 10 years.

And although manufacturers will focus on the magic behind this environmentally friendly power source and why it’s sensible to buy your solar panels now, you should be aware that having your own home energy system installed can be quite an expensive proposition – ranging into the thousands of dollars.

But there is a better way. Cheaper by far. Just as efficient. And ultimately far more satisfying.

Dave Tishendorf

5 comments to Solar Panels: There is a Better Way

  • switzerlandiscool

    Are there special types of solar panels that work better in cloudy climates, like the Pacific Northwest?
    I live in the Pacific Northwest and I was wondering if there was a special type of solar panel that worked better in a climate that tended to be cloudy and overcast a lot.

  • Jerry Lee

    You would not want a focusing, concentrating, or tracking panel; and sensitivity toward the blue end of the spectrum might help a bit; but I think solar cells are just barely cost-effective in *sunny* locations.
    References :

  • adio_J

    Some oif the newer panels are able to also utilize reflected light as well. Find a supplier in yor area. Far more reliable than the smart alec comments available here. There are other reasons to use solar panels than to try to save a buck.
    References :

  • The Voice of Reason

    References :

  • asrambakshi

    hello there are solar water heaters being marketed which use glass vacuum tubes for absorbing the solar heat(infrared) and are effective even in cloudy weather
    check the site <http://www.ecvv.com/product/vp115980/China-Super-
    also search google search
    best of luck
    References :

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