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Solar 101: A Beginner’s Guide To Home Solar in Massachusetts

Solar 101: A Beginner’s Guide To Home Solar in Massachusetts

September 2, 2021

Are you thinking about going solar in the near future? Excellent!

There are so many incredible benefits to installing a residential solar system within your home’s energy ecosystem. However, if you’re new to solar, you may have a few questions regarding how home solar works. With all the technicalities of installing home solar, it’s understandable that you may be feeling a little overwhelmed with the decision.

Worry not, because today we’ll go over a few key pieces of information that all future and beginner solar owners should know.

The Basics Of Solar Power

What Is Solar Power?

Okay, let’s start at square one — what is solar power? Essentially, solar power is the result of converting sunlight into electrical (and/or thermal) power. Solar power is also the most abundant source of renewable energy on the planet and has been utilized for various purposes throughout history. However, to utilize solar power for homes, we typically require the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels.

How Do Photovoltaic Solar Panels Work?

The solar panels (or PV panels) placed onto residential rooftops are engineered specifically for the purposes of providing your home with clean, renewable energy. But, how exactly do they work? These panels capture direct sunlight (or photons) and convert that energy into usable, sustainable electricity for your home.

The steps of the process are as follows:

  1. Your home’s solar panels capture the sun’s rays (photons).
  2. The solar energy captured by your panels creates direct current (DC) electricity, which is then converted into alternating current (AC) electricity by your system’s solar inverter.
  3. The AC electricity is then sent to your home for residential use. 
  4. Any excess energy created by your solar panels is either sent back to the grid or stored within solar battery storage systems.

Solar Panels And Your Home

can solar lower my electricity bill?

Can Solar Lower My Electricity Bill?

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding home solar is if residential solar systems can lower or even eliminate the homeowners’ grid-based electricity bill. Unfortunately, due to several factors, solar panels will most likely NOT eliminate your utility bill completely. Primarily that your solar panels actually require a certain amount of grid energy to operate. 

However, a home solar system can potentially help lower your monthly electric bill. The less your home has to tap into grid energy, the less you’ll be charged on your monthly account. The amount that your home needs to tap into the grid is determined by the number of panels installed, peak sunlight hours, and your home’s typical energy consumption.

Can Solar Power My Whole House?

So, can your solar panels power an entire home? The answer is, yes! But again, this does depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Your home’s typical monthly energy consumption,
  • The size of your home,
  • The amount of direct sunlight during peak daylight hours,
  • Your solar battery storage capabilities,
  • And most importantly, the amount of solar your home requires to meet your energy goals.

Be sure to explore our prior article featuring a deep-dive into how solar energy can really power an entire house, including a nifty equation so that you can make some initial calculations of your home.

Are Solar Panels Compatible With My Home?

Are you worried that your home or your home’s rooftop may not be compatible with solar panels? Unfortunately, some homes are just simply not compatible with residential solar. 

But worry not, a qualified solar consultant, such as the technicians found at BlueSel, typically inspect your home during initial solar consultations before installation. We’ll make sure that your home can handle a home solar system, and we’ll also flag sun-obstructing overhanging trees or any other environmental factors of concern.

Solar Battery Storage

What Is Solar Battery Storage?

The addition of solar battery storage, either bundled or added onto your home’s current solar system, allows you to prioritize storing excess energy created by your system during operating hours. Without a solar storage unit, in Massachusetts, this extra solar energy is usually sent back to the grid in exchange for monthly utility credits. 

In practice, these solar battery units give homeowners even more control over their home’s energy consumption and daily usage. Typically, solar storage units are compatible with their own mobile app, allowing you to carefully monitor your home’s energy usage and control when your solar battery delivers energy to your home.

Can Solar Battery Storage Power My House During Outages?

One of the biggest advantages of owning residential solar batteries is that they become especially useful during power outages. With battery storage, your home can keep essential appliances and utilities running for a short period after the power goes out. 

The length of time that your home can run off battery power depends on the system and the amount of power you choose to consume at any given time during the outage. And, your solar battery will have to have been charged before the outage, as solar panels do require utility-based electrical energy to capture, convert, and create solar electricity. 

Solar Incentives, Tax Credits, and Other Initiatives

The solar investment tax credits allows homeowners to cliam up to 26^ of the costs of installing residential home solar systems on their taxes the same year it is installed

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (Federal ITC)

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (or ITC) is a nationwide solar tax credit available for both residential and commercial solar projects. According to Energy.gov, the tax credit is defined as a “dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of income tax you would otherwise owe.”

The ITC allows homeowners to currently claim up to 26% of the costs of installing residential home solar systems on their taxes the same year that they install the system. While this percentage will reduce over time, homeowners that begin panel construction in 2021 or 2022 can qualify for the 26% tax credit. 

Net Metering in Massachusetts

When your solar system creates excess energy, this energy can be sent back into the grid in exchange for monthly billing credits. This is called net metering. The practice of net metering has received strong support in Massachusetts. In our state, the credits received from net metering rollover month-to-month without an expiration date.

Solar Panel Maintenance

While solar panels have come a long way and are now more durable than ever, you’ll still want to consider the costs associated with solar panel maintenance post-installation. This includes routine inspections and cleanings.

Luckily, as a master SunPower installation company, systems installed by BlueSel Home Solar come with a best-in-class 25-year warranty that covers panels, power production, microinverters, and racking. Our company also offers customers a 10-year warranty on workmanship. 

BlueSel also provides its expert solar maintenance services for customers with competitor panels. If your solar installation company is no longer in business or you just aren’t feeling satisfied with their services, our certified technicians are ready to assist.