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The Amateur’s Guide to Solar Power

Sunshine is poking through the tree branches outside of a modern home.
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Solar panels: we see them everywhere. From acres in California to the tops of buildings in large cities, to the roofs on homes in the suburbs. While they catch our eyes, they aren’t exactly self explanatory. This guide will tell you what solar power is, how it works, the benefits solar power has, and how to get started in purchasing panels. 

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What Is Solar Power? 

Solar power is a renewable energy source that uses the energy from the sun. This is the most abundant and most renewable energy source in the world. 0.1% of the sun’s energy has enough power to supply the Earth for one day. 

the sun in the corner with clouds and blue sky

Renewable vs. Non-Renewable Energy

Before learning about solar power, it’s important to understand the difference between renewable energy and non-renewable energy.

Renewable Energy:

  • Solar energy
  • Wind energy
  • Hydro energy
  • Tidal energy
  • Geothermal energy
  • Biomass energy

Non-Renewable Energy:

Non-renewable includes fossil fuels such as

  • Coal
  • Petroleum 
  • Natural gas
  • Carbon
  • Nuclear energy

nonrenewable nuclear energy with the emissions going into the sky

So How Is Solar Power Utilized? 

The heat from the sun provides energy that can convert into electricity. This happens through a process called the photovoltaic effect.

The photovoltaic effect can only turn into usable energy when there is a solar power system. There are three key components to a solar energy system. 

  1. Solar Panels: the panels capture the energy from the sun.
  2. Inverter: This converts the energy to a format that powers your home and appliances.
  3. Racking: The foundation on which the system is mounted.

Those three components will not store the energy gathered by the panels. If you have access to power lines, you don’t need additional equipment. However, if you are “off the grid” you will need these additional parts. 

  1. Battery: This stores the energy that the panels generate
  2. Charge Controller: this controls the rate for battery charge. 

Best Place To Put Solar Panels

The best location for solar panels is on south-facing roofs. This is ideal because this area receives the most sunlight throughout the day. The purpose of solar panels is to use renewable energy and minimize environmental impacts, so do not be discouraged if you don’t have a south facing roof. Placing solar panels on east or west facing roofs will still produce energy that can reduce electricity bills, save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Net Metering

Solar systems store the generated power in the public utility grid. In return, the company credits accounts for power that your solar panels have generated. Your home can claim credits whenever the sun is not out and your panels are not generating power. This is generally used at night and during bad weather. 

Every utility company has a policy that outlines the rates for solar customers that are credited and billed for power. In most cases, the companies will buy and sell electricity for the same rate. Some utility companies may buy at reduced rates, so make sure you know exactly what your policy is. 

man fixing solar panel with professional drill

Solar Power Pros

Clean Energy

Using solar power minimizes your carbon footprint, and does not emit any greenhouse gases. This type of energy is renewable, so as long as the sun is working (and it will be for a long, long time), you will have available energy. 

Reduced Bills

Having solar power can reduce your monthly energy outlay by an average of $100 a month. If you live in a sunnier area, you will save more money. 

Increased Home Value

An average home will increase 4.1% in value by having solar panels. Future buyers will be thrilled to have renewable energy, without having to make the initial investment. Read more to learn about how solar power can add to your home value. 

Solar Power Cons


When it comes to installation, adding solar panels can be pricey. While there is a return on investment, it can some time to start reaping the benefits. 

Weather Dependent

If you’re living in an area that is rainy or experiences an overcast, having solar panels isn’t the best idea for you. You might not produce enough energy to sustain your household. However, cloudy days aren’t the end of the world when it comes to solar panels. In fact, they can still gather energy. Read our guide that breaks down how solar panels work with overcast and cloudy days. 

rainy day, rain on window facing buildings

Starting the Process

If you’re looking for more tips to consider on adding solar panels, we have you covered. Check out our article here to learn more about the considerations before the investment. 

When you’re ready to make the change, we’re here to help at ONIT Home Service. Our team of trained and trusted professionals can help you simplify your home solar panel installation. For more information, set up a consultation with us today, or call us at 1-833-433-0331. We look forward to setting your home up with solar panels and helping you save money.  

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