Home Solar Energy:
Home solar energy has a lot of powerful friends and detractors.
Merissa Ferguson/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
There's not much point in trying to change the minds of either group unless you enjoy getting into pointless arguments.
Sometimes its best to make information available and let people make up their own minds as to whether solar power for homes is the wave of the future or just another fad.
Besides, in the end only time will tell!
The important thing is that people have enough solar power information available to make an informed decision. (Unfortunately some of the most opinionated people out there tend to be the most ill-informed about certain issues)
One of the best ways for people to get information on the real world feasibility of a home solar system is to hear about real-life examples of people who have installed solar panels.
On that note why don't we take a look at the solar installation of Jim Betts, as featured in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:
Ah, the Lone Star State, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day. That's right, Texas is a southern state with a lot of sunshine which makes it a great place for solar panels.
In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a renewable energy study in July of 2012 which stated that "Texas and California have the highest estimated technical potential, a result of a combination of good solar resource and large population." (There is also something about Texas that makes it less solar-friendly, but we'll get to that in a minute.)
First let's get the basic info on Jim Betts' solar story:
Jim installed a grid-tie system which means his home is still connected to the electrical lines in his neighborhood. This allows his home to draw power from the grid when his solar panels are not producing enough power to cover his family's needs.
Jim also had enough solar panels installed to completely offset his family's electricity consumption. How much did it cost Jim to be able to install enough solar panels to offset all the power used in his household?
Well, the total cost ended up being around $46 000.
But let's not forget about a federal tax credit that covered 30% of the purchase price. This would bring the total cost down to about $32 000.
Well that's a little better, but now we get to the factor that makes Texas a little less solar-friendly than some other states:
There are no state incentives available.
If Jim lived in California he would likely be able to take advantage of state, city, and county incentives that would further reduce the cost of a solar electric system.
This brings us to our home solar energy lesson for the day:
Solar power cost will vary greatly depending on where you live.
So learn all you can about solar power and how it works but remember that you'll eventually want to talk to a local solar installer for the finer details in your area.