Newer panels are more efficient and less expensive than they ever have been. But the real trick to running an entire house on solar panels is to have sufficient battery capacity at hand.
THE FIRST STEP TO ENERGY FREEDOM WITH SOLAR
The first step is to come to an understanding of how much electricity you currently use during an average month. This is done through an energy audit or even easier looking at your past utility bill.
Once you have this information, you and your solar consultant will be able to determine how many panels you need to provide sufficient electricity for your home.
It's important to understand that some months are high-usage months and you need to plan for those when designing your system.
If your goal is to have the ability to run your house only using solar panels while disconnected from the grid or run your house when the grid goes down, the first thing you should consider is making your house more energy-efficient. An energy audit of your home is probably a good idea at this point.
You may be able to save a considerable amount by adding insulation in your attic and walls, installing new energy-efficient windows around the house, and replacing older appliances and lighting with more energy-efficient appliances and lighting.
While it is possible for a solar system to supply as much electricity as you need, there is no reason to pay for a bigger system than is necessary. During the audit, pay special attention to the appliances that consume the most electricity. These appliances would probably be those that heat or cool things in your house. Examples of these things are air conditioning, electric heating, cooking, and refrigeration. An upgrade of these appliances might be in order.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATIONS
There are three basic types of solar panel systems from which you can choose. Your system can be 1. grid-paired, or 2. grid-paired with a whole-house battery, or 3. completely off-grid. Here's a brief description of each of these types of solar systems:
Pairing the home solar system with the energy grid is the most common solar panel configuration in the United States. With this configuration, your solar panels would usually produce only part of the electricity that you use. Because your system will be tied into Texas's power grid, when your panels are insufficient to the task, your home will draw electricity from the grid. Also, when your panels produce more electricity than you can use, your system will send power back into the grid.
If you are a customer of a utility that provides net metering, you will get paid back for the electricity that you send to the grid.
This type of system is the least expensive configuration you can get. The problem with a grid-paired system is that if the grid goes down, you will be in the dark at night. This type of system is able to produce electricity during the day, but it would not be able to help you at night time. There is no storage capability with a grid-paired system.
GRID-TIED WITH A WHOLE-HOUSE BATTERY
This configuration is becoming much more popular as we experience power outages and grid failures. Going forward, we will probably see this configuration in the vast majority of new solar panel installations. With this type of system, you would have batteries in your home that could store the excess electricity that your solar panels produce.
These batteries would store this electricity until you need to draw on it during you can't produce electricity - such as during the nighttime. In a perfect world with a system that is configured correctly, you would never need to draw electricity from the utility. Of course, the world is not perfect and there will be cloudy days when your system is not running at peak performance (cloudy days, heavy snow). During these days, you would need to draw some electricity from the utility.
You would have your choice as to how big of a battery storage you install and that decision would impact how much electricity you can use during lower production periods.
Unlike the first two options, this type of system is not connected to the power grid at all. Off-grid systems are more expensive because you would need to have a battery Bank sufficient in size to power your home for 24 hours a day. Batteries for such a configuration are costly. Battery technology has advanced in the last few years and the cost of installing a completely off-grid system has dropped accordingly. While an off-grid system costs more than the other two systems, it provides a significant amount of peace of mind.
TWO MAJOR COMPONENTS OF A SOLAR SYSTEM
The major components of the solar panel system include the solar panels, the inverter and breaker box, and the battery bank. Solar panels have become more efficient and the costs have dropped in the last few years.
The same is true with whole-house batteries. Including sufficient battery storage will increase the cost of your system significantly. But even if it added a few thousand dollars, the cost of your electricity during the life of your system would be a fraction of the cost of continuing to purchase that same electricity from the power company.
It would safe to assume a 25 to 30-year life of your solar panel system and most have warranties that run that long. That would include the solar panels, inverters, and installation. However, batteries are a different story as they do not last that long. You would likely need to replace your batteries at about the halfway point of the life of your panels.
A typical cost for a solar system that would service a 1500-2000 square foot house might fall in about $20,000 (an example, not a quote). Financing the cost of that solar system would be the only cost to producing electricity for your home. However, purchasing electricity on a monthly basis from utility would probably be a multiple of that amount over the next 25 years. If the system ended up costing you $20,000, that's all you would ever pay for electricity.
I hope that this has given you a good foundation so you can make a decision on what kind of solar system is best for your home. Solar panels on your Texas roof are your own mini power generation plant. You will own this power plant - it will be part of your home.
Producing your own power will provide peace of mind, increased home value, a cleaner environment, and lots of electricity that is produced by only using sunlight as its fuel.
No two ways about it solar panels are a great choice for energy independence in your Texas home! If you are interested in living in a solar-powered home check out our free quiz to see if your home is a good fit for solar panels here, We would love to help you get started on your solar panel journey!