The world of solar panels is large, and can be overwhelming to the novice user. This handy guide will help you explore the many avenues of solar panels and help you make the right choice for your home:
Gadget chargers are small solar chargers that charge your cell phone, household batteries, laptop, or other small electronic device through solar energy. These chargers produce low-levels of power that slowly charge your device over time.
- Performance: Today’s gadget chargers are not very efficient, and often take an entire day of full sun exposure to charge the unit fully. However, as technology advances, these individual gadget chargers will improve.
- Costs: Most gadget chargers range anywhere from $25 to $300, depending on what you try to charge, and the power of the charger. In general, the more effective the charger is, the more you’re going to pay for it.
Roof or ground solar panels are the most commonly used panels in commercial and residential use. Solar panels sit on your roof, or in a large open area, and soak up energy from the sun, which is then converted into usable electricity through a converter. Several types of solar panels exist- monocrystalline silicon panels, polycrystalline silicon panels, thin film panels, and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).
- Performance: As of 2012, the most effective solar panels are monocrystalline panels, but they are also the most expensive models. The newer forms of solar panels, such as thin film and BIPV are much less effective at harvesting the sun’s energy. In general, the presence of several roof panels of any kind will cut back on the amount of energy you take from the power company, but unless you have upwards of 20-30 panels, you will still have to purchase some energy for your home.
- Cost: Roof/ground panel costs vary drastically depending on the type of panel and the effectiveness of the energy conversion. Most panels cost anywhere from $1000 to over $5000 per panel, with extra fees for installation or better energy converters.
Temporary panels are an effective way at creating power on vacation and during travel. These panels roll up for easy transportation, and are designed to power generators, fans, grills, and other outdoor items that you can use while traveling or camping.
- Performance: Temporary panels are less efficient than traditional solar panels, but they usually provide enough power on sunny days to power most camping and outdoor equipment while on the road. Just make sure you place the panel in a sunny location to capture the heat.
- Cost: The cost of temporary solar panels varies depending on the power output and purpose of the design. In general, you can find travel solar panels ranging anywhere from around $300 to over $1000.
Using Solar Panels for Your Home
In general, although solar power seems pretty futuristic still, it’s a viable alternative in some cases, and can provide an emergency power backup during disaster situations. Evaluate your budget before committing to solar powered gadgets, the up-front costs of solar can be steep!
Do you use solar power?