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How to Choose a Home Solar Electric System: A Layperson’s Guide

In the last decade, solar energy has experienced a growth of around 33% per annum. Lowering costs, government incentives and rising utility prices have made solar a viable alternative for many households. So how do you know if it is right for you?

We have everything you need to understand before investing. Read on as we give our essential guide on installing a solar electric system.


What Is a Solar Power System?

A solar power system takes the photons from natural sunlight. This occurs through the use of panels, often mounted on a rooftop. It is then converted into usable energy for the home. 

Two main technology types are at play in the generation of solar electric. The first is photovoltaics, also known as PV. These are the panels that capture the sunlight and transform it. 

A second is concentrating solar power. This uses large-scale mirrors to transform light into heat. It is a huge system usually created in power plants and is not suitable for residential use. 

What Are the Types of Home Solar System?

There are three main types of home solar system. The one you choose will depend on your power needs and budget. 

Grid Tiered

This is a system that keeps the property connected to the grid. When the panels are not producing enough electricity to power the house, they can take power from the standard method. A grid tiered system is the most popular type of solar system. 


This system has no connection to the grid. It is powered entirely by its solar system. 


These are also known as solar plus storage systems. The home remains connected to a grid as with a grid tiered, but also has an additional solar electric battery. Any excess electricity produced will store here for use during power outages or when the solar system is not producing enough electricity. 

Is My Home Suitable for Solar Energy Systems?

Solar panels can work in any climate. The hours of daylight will have a bearing on its effectiveness. 

Some rooftops may not be suitable for panels, particularly if they are shaded by trees or other buildings. The size, shape, slope, and orientation of the roof can also have an impact. Optimal rooftops are south-facing ones with a slope of between 15 to 45 degrees.

Types of Solar Panels

There is more than one type of panel to consider when choosing solar for your home. Your decision on which to choose will be based on your own needs and budget. 

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline panels are the most common type of solar panel. They are named as they use one crystal in the production of each cell. It is estimated that around 20% of the sunlight that hits a panel gets converted into power making them one of the most effective panels. 

These panels have a black, monotone appearance. Being durable, some will come with a warranty of up to 30 years. 

Their downside is that they are one of the more expensive options. However, prices are falling and you may be able to benefit from solar incentives to offset some of the cost. 


Polycrystalline panels are manufactured from many different types of silicon crystals, melted down then fused. This results in a less expensive manufacturing process and this lower cost passes on to the consumer. 

The downside is that they are less efficient than monocrystalline panels. Both have roughly the same lifespan. 

Make sure you do your pricing for these panels thoroughly. In some areas, once you factor in solar incentives and tax rebates, falling monocrystalline prices may mean they have very little difference in cost. 

Thin Film

Thin-film panels are also known as Amorphous panels. While the other two types are rigid panels, this film is lightweight and malleable to some extent. It comes in an easy to install film that is made of three distinct layers. 

They work even on cloudy days with little light. Film panels can withstand a lot of high temperatures so may be better for warmer, sunnier climates. However, they do have less efficiency than others and do not last as long. 

Portable Solar Generator

There are also smaller options such as portable solar generators. These will often include a portable panel and generator. Many RV drivers buy them as they are ideal for anyone who wants solar energy and the ability to transport the system.

They come in a range of different prices and some are more effective than others. You can read a review of the patriot power generator here if you are thinking of purchasing one of these for your home or RV. 

Considerations to Make

Several considerations must be made before you invest in a solar power system. Start with a thorough assessment of your roof. Some older or weaker roofs may not be able to hold the weight of solar panels. 

After this, set a budget. While solar systems will save you money they do require an upfront investment. Compare the amount you could make with the amount you spend on electricity each month to get true savings. 

Finally, decide how long you will stay in the home. If you plan to move soon it may not be worth the effort. 

Finding a Solar Electric System

Getting the right solar electric system for your needs should be easy now that you know these tips. Speak with a local installer who will know the climate and have information about state incentives. From here you can work out a budget and get the right one for you. 

If you found this article helpful we have many more to assist. From solar to HVAC, we can help upgrade and maintain your systems to save you money in the coming year.  

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