3 common solar myths debunked

Solar technology has been commercially available for over 30 years now, and a lot has changed since the technology was first introduced.

The technology has been around for a long time, but there hasn’t been a lot of education around solar and what is going on with the technology and how it impacts homeowners.

Let’s take a look at 3 solar myths that have been debunked and get you more educated on solar power.

Myth 1. Solar Panels Don’t Offset The Energy Used to Produce Them

This myth that has continued in 2019 is based in truth. When solar technology was first invented, it did require more power to produce a panel than a panel could generate. This has long changed thanks to the rapid advancement of technology.

Solar panels now on average take 1 to 2 years of production before they fully offset the energy that was required to produce them.

This is only going to continue to improve as well as solar technology keeps becoming more efficient to produce, and the solar cells become more powerful.

Myth 2. Solar panels Are Not Affordable

One of the biggest myths about solar is that it isn’t affordable. While in the past, this was true; technology has gotten better and significantly cheaper. Today’s solar prices are 60% lower than they were in 2008.

Not only has the price of solar fallen, but great financing options have also become available that make it possible to match your currently monthly power bill essentially.

The upfront cost of solar can still be expensive, but with financing, homeowners can keep mostly the same power bill, but you are paying down your system vs. paying the power company. This is similar to renting vs. owning a home.

Federal and state tax incentives also let you save even more on solar. There is currently a federal tax credit in place that will reduce the price of switching to solar by 30%. Utah also offers presently up to $1200 in state tax credits for homeowners.

Solar has never been as affordable and accessible as it is now.

Myth 3. You can’t have solar where it snows

People sometimes assume that you can’t have solar in places that it snows, but that is not true.

What matters isn’t the amount of snow a place receives but the average sun hours that are received.

If your home is in a location with over 4.5 sun hours, you are a good candidate for solar.

Utah and Park City are great for solar, with over 5.5 average sun hours per day.

In places with heavy snowfall, systems are designed to produce more power during the summer to offset the winter months where production will be reduced due to snow.

Conclusion

There have been many myths in the solar space that have been debunked. Some of the myths in solar are based on truth but have become false as solar technology has advanced.

Solar no longer requires more energy to produce than what will be offset by solar panels, solar panels have become highly affordable thanks to financing, cost reductions, and tax incentives, and you can have solar where it snows you need to have your system build correctly.

SunPower Releases the Most Powerful Panel Ever Made

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SunPower has been a leader in solar panel manufacturing for over a decade, and their recent announcement of their new A-series solar panel shows why.

SunPower recently announced that they would begin selling the most powerful solar panels ever made, a new 400W and 415W panel for residential use.

SunPower has shown that they are capable of pushing solar technology as far as possible and these new panels are no exception.

Let’s take a look at the new SunPower A series panel and what it means for homeowners and the future of solar panel manufacturing.

Engineered from SunPower's Next Generation Technology

SunPower is well known for its patented Maxeon solar cells which are built on a solid copper foundation, unlike traditional solar cells.

The cooper foundation adds high reliability and performance and make SunPower solar panels virtually impervious to corrosion and cracking that commonly occurs on conventional panels.

SunPower has been perfecting their 5th generation maxeon solar cell in their silicon valley research center for use in the new A-series panels.

The new A-series solar panels are made with the 5th generation Maxeon cells which are 65% larger than Gen 4 Maxeon solar cells. The new larger cells can capture more light than previously possible.

This new technology is going to have an impact on what is possible with solar on homes.

What Are The Benefits of The New SunPower Panels for Homeowners?

SunPower’s new 400-watt panel is top of the line when it comes efficiency. The new 400W panels offer an industry leading 22.3% efficiency. That means more sunlight is converted into energy.

A conventional system would require 22, 260W solar panels to cover a home 5.5KW energy requirements. With the new SunPower 400W panel though, that same home could have its energy requirements met by 14 panels.

That leaves plenty of room for expanding a system and adding an electric car charger or adding extra panels for a hot tub or heated driveway.

Additionally, If you had two systems each with 15 panels, but one used SunPower’s new A-series solar panels versus conventional panels, the SunPower system ends up producing 45% more power with the same number of panels.

 
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Homeowners with large electrical bills can offset more or all of their power bill even with limited roof space.

Although the SunPower 400W was just announced, it is now available for homeowners.

Conclusion

SunPower continues to push solar technology forward, and the new A-series solar panels demonstrate this.

SunPower has made the worlds most powerful solar panels for residential use with the new 400W and 415W solar panels.

The Maxeon Gen 5 solar cell used in the new A-series makes it possible to achieve power generation levels that have never been reached before.

These new solar panels are going to allow homeowners with bigger power bills or homeowners with limited roof space to offset more of their power and possibly eliminate their power bill altogether.

3 Reasons to Switch to Solar in Park City in 2019

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For many years now, solar energy has been touted as the most viable solution for getting reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

With solar technology continuing to progress, and costs coming down, solar is becoming a realistic solution for many homeowners in Park City.

Let’s take a look at five reasons why 2019 is the year to make the switch to solar.

3. Diminishing Federal & State Tax Return

The current federal tax credit gives homeowners a 30% tax credit on the total price of a solar array and necessary improvements.

2019 is the last year that this tax incentive will be 30%. In 2020 the credit will be reduced to 26% before being phased out in 2021. There aren’t currently any plans for a new tax to replace the expiring tax credit.

By switching in 2019, you get to utilize the full 30% tax credit that is currently offered; saving you more money.

Additionally, As of February 6th, 2017, House Bill 23 (HB23) has passed.

House Bill 23 is set to phase out the 10% Utah state tax credit (up to $2000) by 2021. Lawmakers are claiming that the Utah solar tax credit is costing the state $60 million per year.

Solar advocacy groups like Utah Solar Energy Association(USEA) have given up the fight against HB23 in favor of compromise. Ryan Evans, The President of USEA, stated, “We would have preferred to see the tax credits live on...Realizing the political pressures and budgetary pressures this year, however, we aren’t contesting this.”

Rather than fighting against HB23, the focus shifted towards a small piece of the bill. HB23 in its original writing had proposed a gradual decline of the state solar tax credit until it was eliminated by 2021. The bill also put a cap on the number of funds available each year, starting from $4 million and declining to $0.

HB23 will reduce the state tax credit by $400 each year until 2021 when the state tax credit will be fully eliminated.

To save the most on your solar array, it is recommended to make the switch while the state tax credit is still available.

2. Impressive New Technology

The cost of solar in 2008 was twice as expensive as it is today and that is in large part due to the improvement that has been made with solar panel manufacturing.

Solar technology has made incredible progress over the past ten years. Better manufacturing practices, scientific discoveries, and economies of scale have made solar incredibly affordable in 2019.

We are seeing manufacturers consistently increasing their panels efficiency rating and panel lifespan.

SunPower recently released the highest efficiency and wattage panel ever made for residential solar.

Their new solar panel will produce 400W of energy at nearly 22% efficiency. Most traditional panels produce 285W at roughly 17% efficiency.

This increase in efficiency and power production helps reduce the panels needed on a home and makes it possible to offset even more power usage.

New solar panel technologies are making it possible to put fewer panels on homes, cover more of a home's energy consumption, and increase your total savings.

1. Solar Saves Money

One of the most enticing reasons to switch to solar is the amount of money that is saved by making the switch.

Many people still believe that making the switch to solar is very expensive, when in fact it has become very affordable. Solar arrays are paying back in just ten years on average, but what exactly does that mean?

After approximately ten years, the total cost of your solar panels will be paid back by the amount of energy that they produce. Most good solar panels have output warranties of 25 to 30 years. This means that at a minimum you’ll get approximately 15 years of free electricity generation, although panels have been known to last longer than their warranty.

Conclusion

Switching to solar has long been touted as one of the best solutions for reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.

For homeowners thinking about making the switch to solar, 2019 is one of the best years to do it.

By switching to solar in 2019, homeowners can utilize the full 30% tax credit that will be eliminated in 2021 and part of the state credit still available.

Solar technology has also come a long way in the past ten years and making the switch to solar in 2019 gives homeowners the most advanced solar panel options that have ever been available.

Why Solar in Park City Makes Sense

Utah is one of 7 states including Colorado, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas that have the highest potential for PV power generation across the United States.

Looking at Utah, its southernmost counties receive the most sunlight hours and the least amount of precipitation making those areas the best places for large-scale solar harvesting. However, the characteristics of Park City also make it a desirable location.

SOLAR HARVESTING POTENTIAL

When looking at potential, the first consideration is the solar irradiance of the specified area.

Solar irradiance is the measurement of light energy from the sun hitting an object.

Solar insolation is the same as irradiance but is a representation of the cumulative energy measured over a defined period of time, usually a year.

This below is a solar insolation map of the United States.

Solar insolation is affected by the angle of the sun, distance from the sun, and the atmosphere. When there is more space, atmosphere, and clouds for the sun to pass through, solar insolation is reduced.

The less ‘stuff’ in between the sun and the area, the more solar insolation.

This is why areas closer to the equator with low precipitation have the highest solar insolation.

Based off of current solar insolation charts, Utah receives an average of 5.26 daily peak sunlight hours for fixed solar panels which makes it one of the highest rated states for solar in the nation.

PARK CITY’S ELEVATION

Park City’s unique advantage doesn’t only come from being in Utah’s dry and sunny climate. Because unlike other areas of Utah, Park City is located at 7,000 feet. Solar harvesting at high elevations isn’t a new concept and many of Europe’s most efficient facilities happen in mountainous areas like the Alps.

Read these articles.

A few reasons high altitude harvesting is more efficient: a thinner atmosphere, meaning less solar diffusion, reduced cloud coverage, especially in Park City which is considered to be in the rain shadow of the Wasatch Front, and lower temperatures.

Temperature is important when analyzing solar panel efficiency. When sunlight hits a solar panel, most of that energy is turned into heat and not captured through the module.

When the ambient temperature is lower than the module, the uncaptured heat energy dissipates into the environment and does not negatively affect power output. However, when the ambient temperature increases and the module’s temperature starts rising above 30C, efficiency starts to drop.

Park City’s Weather

Another characteristic of Park City’s solar potential is the snow that it receives in the winter. With shorter sunlight hours and the sun at a lower southern angle, output is greatly reduced in the winter months.

When it snows and panels get covered, they do not capture any power. Since solar panels have a glass case, the friction between the snow is minimal meaning if the aspect of the roof is at a steep enough angle, the snow will sluff off. When the sun does come out, and heats the snow after a storm, even at low angles, the solar panels are the first place for snow to sluff from.

Not all solar panels are mounted in a way that provides a natural way for snow to slide off and away from the module. Although solar modules are very equipped to handle the snow load, it is important to be aware of the snow accumulation and brush off the modules to start producing power after a storm.


Local Government

Park City has a local government that supports homeowners looking to install solar panels and Utah as a state has some great tax incentives. Read our other blog here if you would like to learn more about solar tax incentives. However, the home solar power production landscape is changing currently including a recent shift from local utility companies like Rocky Mountain power, who have reduced power compensation.

Conclusion

To conclude, Park City is a unique place for solar harvesting.

Being located in the sunny and dry state of Utah means it receives more sunlight than the large majority of the United States. Utah’s installed solar capacity has skyrocketed in recent years and we hope this change will continue as homeowners continue to realize the potential of solar energy.

Park City’s location within the Wasatch Front causes some added - but happily welcomed - obstacles with winter weather. And with Park City’s high elevation comes an increase in solar harvesting efficiency.

These geographical benefits Park City has coupled with the incentives and support from local and state governments make it a desirable place to produce solar energy.