Solar Panels Convert Sunshine into Savings

Posted by: Diana Whittle on


Most of us feel better on a sunny day. But did you know that sunshine can be captured to save you money on your energy bill?

Homeowners across the county are mounting solar panels on their homes to capture the sun’s rays and convert them into solar electricity.

Sunlight Solar, based in Oregon, is a company that installs renewable energy systems, specifically solar electric and solar water heating systems nationwide.

“Customers typically come to us because they want to save energy, live more sustainably, and decrease their contribution to global warming,” explains Stephanie Manzo, PR and Marketing director for Sunlight Solar.

“One customer came to us after they had completed a home energy audit with a local contractor. They had gone through all the retrofits and “tune-ups” on their home, but wanted to dig even deeper.

We started out installing a solar water heating system on their home and they called us back a couple months later to install a solar electric system on their home. They simply continued to be inspired by the amount of energy they were saving and felt they were truly making a difference with their green choices.”

So if you don’t know much about the energy saving benefits of going solar, following are a few basics:

Solar electricity is also known as photovoltaic or “PV” for short.  PV systems can be mounted on a roof or on the ground.  They provide electricity for buildings such as your home or office; they can also provide electricity for factories or utilities.

How Solar Electricity Works

  • Light from the sun strikes the PV module (also known as the PV panel) and makes DC electricity. DC means Direct Current.  It is the same kind of electricity that batteries produce.
  • Your home runs off AC electricity, or Alternating Current.  To convert the DC electricity from the panels to the AC electricity for your home, an inverter is installed, as close as possible to your circuit breaker panel, which is usually in your garage or basement.
  • The inverter will be wired to a new breaker in your panel, which will feed electricity into your home, rather than pull it from the grid.
  • During the day, this will cause your utility meter to slow down or spin backwards.  Now the solar panels are supplying your house with electricity, not the utility grid.
  • You will only be charged for the electricity you pulled from the grid at night, if it is more than what you produced during the day.  If the correct size system is used, you should be able to capture enough of the sun’s exposure to provide nearly 100% of your electric use, so that your electric bill will be negligible.

Estimated Costs for Solar Systems

Solar Electric

In general, you can expect to pay between $7.50-$10 per watt.  How much does that add up to?

  • If you use an average of 20 kWh a day (you can find this information on your utility bill), you would need about a 6 kW system to cover 100% of you electric bill.
  • A 6 kW system is 6,000 watts.  6,000 watts x $8 per watt = $48,000

Solar Hot Water

The size and cost of a solar hot water system will vary by the number of people living in your house.  You will need about one collector for every 1.5 people living in your house.  So if four people live in your house, you will probably need three collectors.  Depending on your site conditions (as listed above), this typical installation would cost somewhere between $9,000 – $12,000.

These totals do not include any rebates that you are likely to receive from the state or any federal energy tax credits.  In some states, you can save 20-50% on the cost of your system. Contact your local power provider or look through our solar panel catalog page to see what programs they maybe offering.