The 3 Types of Solar Panels: Know Your Options

types of solar panels

What Are The Three Types of Solar Panels?

The three types of solar panels are monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and Amorphous solar panels. Today’s Solar Panels can be traced back to the 19th Century when Alexander Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect and explained that we can generate electricity from sunlight. It then took us 100 more years to invent a solar cell! Shortly after that, we started using solar energy to power Space Satellites and now the International Space Station. Nowadays, solar cells can be produced in a few different ways, providing homeowners with choices. See below the three most company-used solar cells and what differentiates them. 

Monocrystalline Solar Panels (Mono)

Monocrystalline solar panels are made of monocrystalline silicon. They are the most commonly used solar cells in the residential market.

Thanks to their silicon’s purity, these solar panels are very productive. Their efficiency rate is around 20%. When it comes to high temperatures, the monocrystalline silicon makes the panels incredibly durable and efficient, which slightly influences higher prices. Additionally, the Mono-Si panels have a high-power output and a lifespan of more than 25 years! 

Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Poli) 

The polycrystalline panels are made by melting raw silicon, which significantly reduces their production time and price. Their efficiency rate is slightly lower than monocrystalline panels,  around 16% and (like Mono panels) will last for over 25 years! They are produced differently, so their look differs from monocrystalline panels: they have a blue, speckled look to them. While they may look different, these panels are just as good as monocrystalline panels and are commonly used in the commercial sector. 

Thin-Film: Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels 

Amorphous panels are produced by placing materials like silicon, copper or cadmium onto a base. The surface color can either be dark blue or black. In comparison with Mono and Poli, this kind of panel is cheaper because their manufacturing utilizes less material. Also, thin-film panels are often used for smaller solar power installations and are very flexible, which makes the application highly manageable. They have a lifespan of about 15 years and their efficiency rate reaches 10%. Consequently, you need twice as many amorphous panels to generate the same amount of power as monocrystalline panels.

The table below shows a comparison of three types of solar panels: monocrystalline, 

polycrystalline, and thin-film.

 

Cell type Efficiency rate Lifespan Advantages Disadvantages
Monocrystalline 20 % 25 years Highly  efficient, durable Expensive
Polycrystalline 16 % 25 years Lower cost Less efficient 
Thin-film (Amorphous) 10 % 15-20 years Less expensive,

easily produced

Lower efficiency/ shorter lifespan

 

These three most common types of solar panels are all advantageous for different reasons, and any one of them may be the best for your specific needs. For your questions regarding the switch to solar or about which type of solar panel may be best for you, contact Solartime USA today.

 

How the Federal Solar Tax Credit Works and What You Need to Know

solar tax credit 2019

Solar energy not only helps save the planet, but it can also help you save money!

Did you know that once you install solar panels on your home, you’re eligible to claim a third of your total setup costs on your tax return? For anyone who’s on the fence about switching to solar from traditional power grids, reaping the benefits from the Federal Solar Tax Credit could be just the thing to sway your decision. 

Here’s what you need to know in order to do it right: 

Understanding the Federal Solar Tax Credit

As mentioned above, the Federal Solar Tax Credit (or the Investment Tax Credit) allows you to claim 30% of your total solar installation, licenses, and equipment costs on your Federal tax return. 

This means that if you wind up spending $15,000 altogether on your new solar system, you’ll essentially save $5,000 on your taxes the next year. In fact, research shows that the average solar shopper in 2019 saves around $5,000 just by switching to solar and taking advantage of the current program.

This opportunity was originally introduced in 2016, and Congress has since extended the tax credit to 2022 for homeowners to take advantage of in hopes to promote sustainable energy consumption. However, this deal won’t be around for long.  

How the Federal Solar Tax Credit Will Change Over the Years

Unfortunately, the Federal Solar Tax Credit only has a lifespan of 5 years. Not to mention, its value depreciates the longer you wait. 

The amount that you can deduct from your following year’s taxes becomes less and less with each passing year. Here’s a quick breakdown of the payout differences:

  • 2019: If you purchase solar panels within the year, you can enjoy the full 30% tax credit on your entire system installation. Now is the time to buy since 2019 is more than halfway through!
  • 2020: Anyone who makes the change to solar energy can enjoy a 26% tax credit off their total cost.
  • 2021: A little late to the game, but homeowners and commercial business owners can still claim a 22% tax credit on their solar panel system from Uncle Sam. 
  • 2022 and beyond: At this point, only commercial solar energy buyers can claim a modest 10% tax credit on their solar setups. Residential homeowners are out of luck. 

Although the deal starts to wither, the U.S government does give buyers a little breathing room to get the job done and reap the rewards. For instance, changes to the program have made it so that people can claim the tax credit immediately after construction and installation is finished. The only catch is that solar systems have to be fully operational by the end of 2023. 

Knowing if You’re Eligible for the Federal Solar Tax Credit

Combing through all this information concerning timeframes and percentages may seem a bit overwhelming, but knowing if you’re eligible for the Federal Solar Tax Credit and claiming benefits is pretty straightforward. 

Essentially, the only stipulation that determines your eligibility for the Investment Tax Credit is whether or not you own your solar system outright. This means that, if you happen to lease your solar systems through a solar energy provider, you do not own the equipment. Therefore, you’re not eligible for any kind of tax credit. 

On the other hand, if you do own your system, great! Claiming your solar tax credit is as easy as informing your year-end accountant about your purchase and giving them the proof, or if you use a virtual tax filer (TurboTax, H&R Block), you can simply plug in the credit and watch your savings roll in. 

Working with a Solar Professional Can Help

Whether you’ve already made a solar system purchase or you’re considering taking the plunge, working with a solar professional can help make the process a lot easier. 

For those with a setup in place, don’t hesitate to reach out to your provider to ask questions and gain valuable insights so that you can get the most out of your energy plan. From product issues to general questions, an expert-level solar provider should assist you with any problems so that you can live a better life with a sustainable peace of mind. That being said, if solar energy is new to you, then feel free to contact a professional at SolarTime USA to learn more. 

Their mission is to always put the customer first. Serving over 21,000 families and businesses throughout the U.S. and Europe, you can trust that your solar needs will be met with the utmost care, and most of all, the greatest affordability. 

Reaping the benefits of the Federal Solar Tax Credit is just one aspect of how solar energy can benefit your home, so visit SolarTime USA today and start making a difference for the future.

 

What Role Your HOA Plays In Solar Panel Installation

solar panel installation

Aside from taking care of the trash and making sure your community pool is always clean, your homeowners’ association (HOA) has a lot of pull when it comes to remodeling your home or outfitting it with certain appliances. 

Overall, you may think that something like adding solar panels to your home is harmless, and even a good option for conserving resources, but in most cases, there’s an approval process you’ll need to follow before anything can happen. Needless to say, preparing yourself for any potential obstacles can help get your solar panels up and running when the time comes. 

If your home is subject to the rules of an HOA, then here’s what you should know about the role they play in solar panel installation

What’s the Purpose of an HOA?

First off, an HOA’s main objective is to make sure that each property in the community is held to a high standard. 

Essentially, this means bolstering property values with maintenance efforts, complying with state property laws, and upholding board regulations set up by community members and the HOA’s Board of Directors. Because of their dedication to creating a desirable, valuable place to live, lots of homeowners can enjoy their property without dealing with tedious chores and expenses often associated with living in a residential area, such as mowing lawns and raking leaves. 

Other HOA Benefits 

There are tons of benefits that living under an HOA can provide for a homeowner. Some of these include…

  • Community pools
  • Basketball courts
  • Volleyball Courts
  • Hot tubs
  • Saunas
  • Playgrounds
  • Running and walking paths
  • Gas and charcoal grills
  • Clubhouses
  • Patios areas

Anyone living in the community can take advantage of what an HOA has to offer, and upkeep for each benefit comes from membership dues that each homeowner pays monthly. 

How Does an HOA Affect Solar Panel Installation?

Your HOA is in charge of making sure that each property is presentable and appealing to its neighbors, as well as the general public in terms of selling real estate. 

With that in mind, solar panel installation tends to disrupt those ideals. In most cases, solar panels have to be installed on the roof of a building or attached to the side of a home. Instantly, this creates an unpleasant appearance in the eyes of board members. Not to mention, some of your neighbors may complain that your solar panels are obstructing their view or creating an ugly “aesthetic” that may drive down property values as a whole. 

Altogether, your main recourse is to check with your HOA representatives to see what options are available to you. For instance, you may have to submit a proposal of your solar panel installation plans with your location and installation costs intact. That being said, if your HOA is making the process extra difficult, you may have some legal rights to fall back on that can bypass restrictions. 

Solar Access Rights to Understand

If your HOA is against you installing solar panels on your home, many states have solar access rights that you can take advantage of to overcome the pushback. 

Places like California, Texas, Florida, Utah, and Arizona (lots of sunny places) have laws known as “Solar Access Rights” that prohibit HOAs from denying homeowners access to solar energy, whether it be through contract agreements or verbal reprimands. 

Even on a Federal level, past legislation efforts introduced The American Clean Energy and Security Act, which was a national measure to forbid HOAs from restricting solar panel installation on homeowner property. Sadly, the bill didn’t pass, but it opened the doorway for state legislators to make an impact on energy conservation efforts on a residential level. 

To ensure that you have solar access rights at your disposal, be sure to check with your state’s laws before launching a campaign against your HOA. After all, you do have to live there, so try your best to make any disputes or proposals as friendly and cordial as possible. 

Be Open-minded and Work with Your HOA

The last thing you want is to create an unpleasant living situation for yourself, so always be open-minded and work with your HOA to come up with the best solution for your solar panel installation. 

Half of all states in the U.S. have rights in place to protect solar panel installation, so chances are that your HOA already accounts for it and has active measures in place to appease homeowners. However, in case there’s no precedent to work from, use your voice to participate in HOA meetings, work with your rep to devise a fair plan, and talk with your neighbors to respect their wishes and honor your own. 

With a little ingenuity and flexibility, you’d be surprised at what you can come up with. Who knows, maybe by you leading the pack, the rest of your community will be inspired to get solar panels, too! If and when they do, contact Solartime USA to get the job done. 

Contact us today for a free consultation! 

How to Protect Your Solar Panels From Hail Damage

solar panels hail damage

With hail season in full swing, protect your solar panels from hail damage to keep their energy supply in working condition. 

Solar panel hail damage happens in the blink of an eye. One minute the sun is shining bright across the Lone Star state, then suddenly, debris the size of golfballs rattles down and wreaks havoc that’s often expensive and stressful to repair. 

Needless to say, there are several ways to mitigate Mother Nature’s actions to ensure your safety at all times. If you’re curious as to how you can stay ahead of any potential problems, here’s how to protect your solar panels from hail damage: 

Know What Your Solar Panels Can Withstand

According to research from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a survey of 50,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed in the U.S. between 2009 and 2013 found that only 0.1% of them were damaged or classified as malfunctioned each yearly review. 

This means that solar panels have outstanding durability when it comes to extreme weather patterns. In fact, manufacturers actually test their solar panels to ensure that hail storms won’t be an issue. 

Generally, solar panels can endure hailstones up to one inch in size (25mm) at a falling speed of 50 miles per hour. To give you an idea of how this translates in a real scenario, back in 2017, the NREL campus in Golden, CO faced a devastating hail storm that shattered car windows and left dents in homeowners’ roofs. Surprisingly, of the 3,000 panels on their building, only one was broken, which means you can trust that your panels hold up pretty well in the face of danger.

Stay Up-to-date with Local Weather Reports

Now that you know how resilient your solar panels are, your next best move is to stay up-to-date with local weather reports so you can anticipate any serious strikes. 

There are some great resources that residents in North Texas can take advantage of when it comes to weather preparedness. Here are a few of them to consider:

  • Sign Up for Text Alerts: The Office of Emergency Management in Fort Worth offers a free text alert system for anyone who inquires. All you have to do is text your zip code to 888777 or register online. Within minutes, you’ll get a detailed report that notifies you about any impending hail storms or severe weather attacks. 
  • Download Weather Apps On Your Phone: Thanks to technology, you can get access to detailed weather reports in a matter of seconds by downloading weather apps on your smartphone or mobile device. Weather Underground, The Weather Channel, and RadarScope are some of the best weather apps of 2019 for you to stay informed, so train yourself to do daily check-ups during hail season. 
  • Find Shelter In Case of Emergencies: Hail storms may only do minimal damage to your solar panels, but they can do much more to your car, home, or even yourself! With this in mind, it’s best to choose a designated shelter for you and your loved ones to retreat to in case of emergencies. This can be a basement, a secure part of your home, or a covered parking space.
  • Get Comprehensive Insurance Coverage: Lastly, many parts of North Texas offer comprehensive insurance packages that cover natural disasters. This means that if your solar panels (or any other parts of your home) are damaged from hail, you can get them replaced without having to pay a fortune. Just make sure to check over your homeowner policy to ensure that it includes solar panels. In most cases, a panel may have to be removed and reinstalled so a roofer can fix a damaged roof. 

Perform Regular Maintenance to Your Solar Panels

Although hail storms are unpredictable in terms of how much damage they can cause, it’s always a good idea to perform regular maintenance to your solar panels to ensure they work properly and are ready for anything.

For instance, you can do several things to keep your solar panels running at optimum levels. Plus, the workload is relatively simple: 

  • Keep Your Solar Panels Clean: All kinds of grime and debris can stifle the abilities of your solar panels over time. On a regular basis, make sure to clean them with water and wipe them free of dust, rain residue, bird excrement, tree limbs, or pollen. In some cases, hiring a professional to clean your solar panels is a good idea to avoid dangerous heights. 
  • Install a Solar Panel Cover: Some solar companies may provide you with a protective cloth that covers your solar panels from light debris and buildup. However, remember that your equipment is quite durable on its own! That being said, there aren’t too many mainstream options when it comes to dedicated solar panel covers, although you can install your own using plexiglass from your local hardware store. 

Keep Your Solar Panels Protected No Matter What

Despite how strong your solar panels may be against the elements, nothing beats the reassurance and know-how of a solar panel professional at Solartime USA

Our team provides custom solar designs to ensure your new solar panels fit perfectly to your home, along with them performing at their highest levels to give you maximum energy at an affordable cost. 

To learn more about our residential solar panels, custom solar designs, or to inquire about maintenance issues, please contact Solartime USA today.

Do Solar Panels Panels Work During Cloudy Weather & Other Weather Conditions?

Do Solar Panels Panels Work During Cloudy Weather

Solar panels are very adaptable to different weather conditions and are installed all over the world, in places such as the below-freezing temperatures of Alaska and the searing heat of the Sahara. If you are thinking about how solar panels work during cloudy weather, it is crucial to understand how the weather may affect their efficiency and output. Let’s take a look at different weather conditions and how they affect the solar production.

Do Solar Panels Work in Cloudy Weather?

Yes, solar panels will still generate electricity in cloudy weather, just about 20-30% of its full capacity. As a result, clouds reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches your panels. Solar panels are designed to use direct and indirect sunlight to generate electricity. No worries, you are still producing power even when the clouds are up there!

Do Solar Panels Work In The Cold?

Solar panels’ production is more reliant on the amount of the sunlight that reaches the panels, than the temperature of the air surrounding them. However, since we are dealing with electricity, it is known that as the panels get hotter, they produce less energy even with the same amount of sunlight. The panels are tested at a temperature of 25 degrees C- about 77 degrees F, and heat can reduce that efficiency by 10-25%. That’s why the best production months for Texas are during spring and fall when days are already long, but the temperature is mild!

How About Rainfall?

Solar panels produce electricity even on rainy days due to visible sunlight getting through the rain. Rain is beneficial for solar panels, as it helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away dust, pollen, birds’ droppings, and or debris. So rainy days are solar-shower days!

And Snowfall?

A little bit of snow, as in the case of rain, can be useful for cleaning solar panels. The sunlight can still pass through a thin cover of snow. Designers always install solar panels at the most effective angle to help with sun reflection and the fall of snow if needed. Fortunately, we do not have to deal with this as much, here in Texas!

Solar Panels in Hail

Solar panels could possibly be damaged by a heavy hailstorm, but it is very rare. Fortunately, if it happens, any potential damage caused by severe weather conditions would be covered by your homeowner’s insurance, just like your roof. Solar Panels are tougher to break than your roof, so you can sleep calmly! They will withhold the hail and if not we will work with your insurance to fix them if needed!

Solar Panels In The Wind

Most solar panels can withstand winds up to 100mph. Every solar installation is firmly attached to the roof. The panels must be properly mounted to a sturdy, immovable surface to pass the final inspection.

If you still have any questions regarding the performance of solar panels share your questions with us at office@solartimeusa.com or call/text us 972 675 7725.