Remember the first really big oil shock of the late 1970s? Interest in balkonkraftwerk 600w made in germany power really began to take off as forward-thinking people saw the writing on the wall and began thinking about the finite nature of fossil fuels. Once the panic was over, however, people lost interest in solar energy. Residential installations became less common, since the payback took many years to realize and oil was once again plentiful and affordable. Over the last few years, the allure of solar residential power has once again caught people’s attention due to concerns regarding global warming and the fact that oil and gas prices have been steadily increasing.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 2010 was a banner year for solar installations–double the number recorded for 2009. The year 2011 is shaping up to be even better, with 66% more residential solar power systems installed in the first quarter over the previous year. More companies are getting into the solar energy business, as well. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that there have been large increases over the past couple of years in the number of solar panel manufacturers and those that produce solar hot water systems.
The upside of this news is that prices are coming down, making solar power affordable to many more people. Additionally, the federal government has extended tax credits and many states are offering their own incentives, reducing the payback time substantially. For homeowners opting for a grid-tied system, the ability to sell their excess power to their local utility will save them even more money.
There are three main types of solar power systems: passive, active and thermal. Passive solar homes are houses that are built to take advantage of the sun’s warming rays and are generally solar south-facing with large southern windows and small windows on the north side. Thermal systems include those that heat water for household use by using sunshine and generally include pumps to move the water. Active solar consists of solar electric panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, to convert the sun’s rays into electricity. A homeowner can install a solar panel kit that will power only an appliance or two, or purchase an array that will allow the entire household to run on solar electric energy.
For those living in remote areas, an off-grid residential solar power system can allow them to live a modern lifestyle without being tied in to the local utility. Most people live in more populated areas, however, and opt for the grid-tied system which allows them to sell electricity back to the utility.
Solar power for homes is no longer just for those living in the sunniest portions of the country. Even the northeast, not particularly known for its long, sunny days, is getting into the act, and states such as New Jersey have a very active solar incentive program. Between government credits, utility rebates, plunging prices and improvements in solar technology, residential solar power is gaining ground every day.