Solar energy is gaining popularity among those seeking to incorporate renewable energy into their homes or places of business. The residential market, in particular, will see an uptick in solar energy use in 2014, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
As solar panel installation becomes more streamlined and cost effective, a growing number of homeowners, property managers and business owners may consider installing solar panels on their property. As a result, it’s important to understand the potential benefits of solar panels, as well as how to sell and install them for your next project.
Solar Panels are Less Costly Than Ever
As solar panels become more efficient, they’re also becoming more cost effective. A 40-inch x 64-inch panel produced today can generate 250 to 260 watts of power, 10 to 20 more watts than the same size panel manufactured a year ago, says James Johnston, a renewable energy specialist with Progressive Power Solutions in Orem, Utah.
The actual cost of purchasing a solar panel system has decreased while the amount of energy that system can generate has grown, meaning it will pay for itself more quickly. In addition, clients may be able to sell excess energy their solar panels produce back to their utility company, earning credits that can be applied to future bills. “For the same amount of money, [owners of a solar panel system] are able to offset a lot more of their energy usage,” says Reeves Clippard, CEO of A&R Solar in Seattle.
Solar Energy is Increasingly Versatile
Technological advancements have made solar panels a viable source of renewable energy for clients whose properties might not have previously fit the criteria for installation, such as a homeowner with a partially shaded roof. A solar panel system with microinverters, which allow each solar panel to be powered individually, can benefit this type of client, as panels in sunnier areas are able to generate electricity independently of those in the shade, says Jennifer Hatch, a spokesperson with ReVision Energy in Portland, Maine. This means panels with low output, such as shaded ones, won’t drag down the energy production of the whole system.
Tax Incentives for Solar Energy are Available
Federal and state tax incentives, rebates and subsidies are an option for clients interested in offsetting the cost of installing a solar panel system. Policies vary by state, but those interested can learn which incentives apply in their area by visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency website.
Highlighting benefits like these can help homeowners and property managers see why solar energy may be a viable option for them. “Today, there are nearly 500,000 installed solar panel systems across the United States — and for good reason,” SEIA Vice President of Communications Ken Johnson says. “With energy costs fluctuating, solar energy is clean, affordable and reliable.”