Some people are concerned that investing in a residential solar power system will cost thousands of dollars and require hundreds of hours to clean and maintain over time. Today’s reality is that acquiring a solar power system can cost as little as $0 down and have no maintenance time or costs associated with it at all. On top of that, the system will reduce your home electricity bills for years to come and protect you from inflationary utility expenses as costs for fossil fuel-generated electricity fluctuate. From an economic standpoint, a home-based solar electric generation system is an excellent investment.
How much you spend depends on whether you choose to lease or own your system. Both options provide valuable benefits, but each offers a different level of commitment.
“Solar as a Service”: Leasing your system from RGS Energy means that RGS owns it, but it is installed on your property to provide electricity for your home use. Often called a “Power Purchase Agreement” (PPA), this option gives you a low fixed rate for your electricity for 20 years.
A PPA offers additional benefits:
- It may cost as little as $0 for installation and connection (for qualified lessees).
- You will pay nothing to have the system installed on your home and connected to the grid.
- You will begin enjoying solar generated power the moment the system is turned on.
- Your monthly electric bill is fixed for 20 years.
- Flexible payment plans make it affordable for you, whatever your budget may be.
- RGS will take care of all maintenance duties for the life of the lease. You will not be required to do any maintenance work on your solar power system.
Owning the System: Owning means that you have title to the system and that you’ll also carry the upfront costs for installation as well as do the maintenance over time. However, there are significant financial benefits to owning your system:
- State and federal rebates as well as incentives are offered that reduce the cost substantially.
- Some options (rebates) offer a “cash-back” opportunity for a portion of the cost of purchasing the equipment.
- Other options (incentives) offer tax deductions or exemptions off your yearly tax bill.
- In some states, excess home-generated electricity (that which is not used by the house) is shared on the grid and used by someone else. The generating home receives a payment for supplying that resource to the community.
- RGS panels are warranted for 25 years so you’ll always have access to RGS’s high-quality maintenance services and staff.
- Future home buyers typically will pay more for a home with an installed solar power system than for one without it.
- Financing opportunities for solar power systems frequently offer better terms than those for almost any other purchase.
Cleaning the panels
As the owner of a solar power system, cleaning and non-warranted activities associated with it will be your responsibility. Fortunately, solar power systems are easy to maintain, and most homeowners are more than capable of doing this themselves. The biggest problem is simply the grit and grime that exposure to weather and other elements will cause. Google did an experiment with their Mountain View, California, facility to determine how cleaning affected their solar panels. They found that cleaning the panels was the “number one way to maximize their efficiency.” Panels that had gone for 15 months without cleaning doubled their capacity after they were cleaned.
In dusty locations, layers of dust can cover the surface of the panels and will reduce the panel’s efficiency. Bird droppings, pollen and leaves also can obscure the capacity of the panel. In most cases, a simple spray with a water hose should suffice to remove surface grit.
There are some cautions, however, that are dependent on location and siting, so consider these points as you contemplate cleaning your solar panels:
- Be sure to turn the system off before you clean it.
- Most home solar panels are installed on the roof and may require a professional window washer, who has the tools to safely access steeply pitched roofs.
- Cleaning should occur in early morning, later evening or on cloudy days. Panels get very hot during the mid-day hours.
- Abrasive cleaning materials might scratch the glass surface so use non-abrasive cleaners and applicators.
In some locations, regular rainfall may be sufficient to keep panels grit-free, which would also make them maintenance free. This is another great reason to install a solar electricity generation system on your home.
RGS Energy, founded in 1978, is a market leader in solar energy system installation. To learn how solar could lower your electric bills and to get a free quote, visit RGSEnergy.com.