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Going Solar? Facts and Figures to Help You Decide


light bulb with solar panels inside to illustrate going solarConsidering going solar in 2019? That’s good for both you and the environment. Experts report that making the switch from fossil fuel could potentially cut air pollution by 90%. But that’s not the only reason to make the change.

With solar, homeowners get to enjoy free electricity from the sun. That makes Montecito the perfect spot for solar since we have, on average, 283 sunny days per year. Now that’s a lot of solar power! Plus, those of us who live in California get a tax credit. And that tax cut does not have a maximum limit. You can claim the full 30% California solar tax credit whether your solar panel system costs $10,000 or $1,000,000.

Another positive is the cost. Adding it to your Montecito home won’t break the bank. Even so, covering your roof in solar panels and living off the grid requires a big commitment from homeowners. Ask yourself, “Am I ready?”

Read: Considering a rooftop solar system?

The history of solar power sciencehand sun and blue sky with copyspace showing freedom or solar power concept

The French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the power of the sun back in the 1800s. He figured out that some materials produce a small electric current when exposed to the sun. That’s called the photovoltaic effect. His amazing discovery is at the heart of the solar operating principle we use today.

What are Solar cells?

Solar cells are made up of two different kinds of silicon. By layering them together, scientists found they encouraged electron movement. When sandwiched between two outer conductive layers then covered by antireflective glass, these cells are catalyzed when light hits them. That causes the electrons to move, creating an electric current.

A single solar cell wired in parallel creates a module. A module can only produce one-half volt of electricity. That’s why the modules are connected together. When that happens, the modules form a solar panel. Connecting several solar panels form an array: that futuristic looking grid on your rooftop.

Read: Get Ready for Game-Changing Solar Roof Tiles from Tesla

7 facts about solar panels

  1. The correct positioning of a solar panel affects its efficiency.
  2. Here in the United States, solar panels should face toward the south in order to capture optimal sunlight.
  3. Solar panels perform best in temperatures around 77°F.
  4. Higher temperatures can create an efficiency loss of 10%-25%, but . . .
  5. Low temperatures don’t affect a solar panel’s functionality.
  6. Maintenance of solar panels is minimal since there are no moving parts.
  7. Keeping solar panels clean and free of dirt buildup year-round can extend their life to about 25 years.

For details on keeping your solar panels in prime working order, read this article from Sunpower, a one-stop solar company offering Montecito homeowners a free consultation to create a custom solar design and install the panels. 

Types of solar panels

The world has experienced rapid advances in the technology of solar power. New materials, techniques, and processes are constantly being tested and discovered. For now, Montecito homeowners have three broad categories to choose from in solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film.Monocrystalline panels

  • Monocrystalline

Monocrystalline panels are grown from a single seed crystal dipped into molten silicon. After being drawn up and rotated, that seed forms a tubular ingot which is then shaved and sliced. The result is the familiar flat black wafers with rounded corners seen on many solar panels. These are considered the most efficient and offer the highest output. Plus, they last the longest. Due to the process and waste, however, these panels are the most expensive to produce. Another downside is that the efficiency of these panels decreases when it gets hotter than 77°F; losing about 1% efficiency for every few degrees.

Price: A single 100W monocrystalline solar panel costs about $105 to $170.

  • Polycrystalline

Although polycrystalline panels begin life the same way monocrystalline panels do, the mixture is then poured into a square mold. Therefore, these panels feature square-shaped silicon wafers. The end result is an uneven or crystalline appearance on the surface. The positives of using polycrystalline are that these panels create less waste. That’s because the process is less involved. They’re also more environmentally friendly and cost less. However, they’re not as efficient and don’t last as long as monocrystalline panels. And, you’ll need more of these panels to work well. 

Price: A single 100W polycrystalline solar panel costs about $99 to $104.

  • Thin film

Creating thin film panels made by layering any of several different photovoltaic materials is a rapidly emerging technology that is not really available yet. The materials used can be amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium, gallium selenide, or organic photovoltaic cells. Thin film panels are flexible and lightweight, making them adaptable to just to about any situation. The super performance of thin cells does not disappear in high temperatures or shade. Still, these are the least efficient of the three and they require more room for the same power output. 

Price: A single 100W thin film solar panel costs about $160 to $190.

The bottom line is, you can’t go wrong by going solar in 2019. Solar roof tiles will increase your home’s efficiency, and possibly its value when it is time to sell. If you are considering selling in Montecito, Hope Ranch or another of the Santa Barbara area’s upscale communities,  or if you’re buying and want to find a home with solar, or the potential for adding solar, give me a call at 805.886.9378 or email me at I’ll happily add your home to my portfolio of fine properties and find you the perfect place to call home at the same time.


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