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Texans bask in the constant presence of the sun all summer long. But beyond serving as a source of beautiful sunsets and seemingly perpetual heat, we rarely stop to consider other ways the sun affects our lives.

The concept of green energy as a way to provide power for our planet without using fossil fuels is increasingly a topic of public discussion. As awareness of green energy options grow, more and more people are looking for alternative energy sources to power their homes, which brings up a multitude of questions. In the case of solar energy, the two most commonly asked questions are:

  • How much will solar panels cost?
  • How many panels would I need to power my home?

The short answer to both? It depends. It’s based on a host of factors including, how much energy you use in your home and how much sun hits your roof on a regular basis. While itstill may be too  expensive for most people to install solar panels on their homes, prices for the panels and installation are coming down. Chariot exists to offer 100% solar energy at competitively priced rates without the need for personal panels.

But before you call your nearest solar panel installation company to get a quote for your home, it’s essential you understand some crucial details about solar panels and solar energy.

The Falling Price of Solar Energy

Currently, solar panels are one of the more easily accessible forms of renewable energy. Solar energy attracts people in large part because of its many benefits, ranging from significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to increasing home value by an average of $15,000. With enough panels installed in Texas to power more than 350,000 homes, it is no longer uncommon to see solar panels affixed to the roofs of residential homes and businesses.

This expansion is also due to the falling price of generating solar electricity. Solar prices decreased by 34% in Texas from 2014 to 2019. This decrease is even more dramatic across a longer time frame, as solar panel installation costs in the United States dropped by 70% from 2009 to 2019. In response, demand for residential solar panels and solar power in general has grown tremendously.

How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Power My Home?

The average home in the U.S. uses 10,400 kWh of electricity per year. If you install the average 250-watt solar panel, you’d need around 28-34 solar panels to generate enough energy to power your entire home.

However, unlike the traditional utility grid, which is automatically connected to your home during construction, solar panel installation is a highly individualized process – something which also drives its price. We recommend taking these three steps to determine whether solar panels could be a good fit for you:

  1. Determine your electricity consumption in kWh. You can find this information on your electricity bill, or you can estimate it here.
  2. Divide that number by the solar panel production estimate. The exact estimate will vary depending on your location and property (e.g. tree coverage and regional sunshine). You can obtain a reasonable range by using 1.31 (Arizona) and 1.61 (Maine), the highest and lowest production ratios of the US, as guides.
  3. Divide that number by 250 – the wattage of an average solar panel – to determine a range of how many solar panels you may need in order to generate 100% of your home’s electricity needs.

Let’s try some basic math:

  • 11,000 kWh of annual electricity usage / 1.31 (since we live in Texas) = 8,396.9
  • 8,396.9 / 250 = 33.58 » 34 panels.

While this estimate should not replace a professional evaluation, it can provide a useful rough idea to indicate the feasibility of solar panel installation for your house.

How Much Will It Cost to Install Solar Panels at My Home?

Though installation costs are dropping, an average installation will likely run you upwards of $10,000 – even after a 30% federal tax credit. For many, the cost alone makes the notion of completely powering homes through solar panels difficult. And that’s before you remember that Texas Retail Electricity Providers usually produce electricity much more cheaply than their residential power counterparts.

There is no doubt that solar panels will continue to drop in cost and increase in productive capacity in the future. But the majority of homeowners with solar panels don’t use them as the exclusive source of residential power. Instead, they are connected to the utility grid in a process called net metering (NEM). Net metering is a fantastic option for people who want to decrease their electricity bill while increasing their environmental friendliness.

This unique billing arrangement follows this pattern:

  • A household utility meter monitors how much electricity is consumed by the household and how much electricity is generated by the solar panels.
  • On either a monthly or yearly basis, that household is only responsible for paying its net consumption – its electricity consumption beyond what was generated by the home’s solar panels
  • This creates opportunities for the most electricity-conscious households to be compensated by their utility company.

However, this setup is very rare. Though a self-sufficient, off-grid solar panel system remains a challenging feat, there are other ways to use green energy to power your home. 

How a 100% Green Electricity Plan Is a Great (If Not Better) Alternative to Solar Panels

With its perpetually sunny climate, Texas ranks in the top 10 U.S. states in its cumulative solar capacity. As a result, the Texas solar industry has grown rapidly in terms of electricity generation and the number of people it employs. With it, household enthusiasm for solar panels has also increased. However, the two main concerns people have when it comes to solar panel installation are production capacity and costs.

Solar panels in residential settings currently face limitations since most homes have no way of storing extra solar power on sunny days when solar panels create more electricity than the home can use. Thankfully, further technological progress will likely address this storage problem, as it plagues the entire industry.

In regard to costs, regular electricity companies can offer lower rates on traditional electricity plans than those powered by solar energy because of an economic concept called economies to scale. In essence, the costs for each additional unit of output decrease as more output is created. In other words, because more households are connected to the Texas electricity grid than use solar panels, the average cost of electricity is lower for each household than it would be with individual solar panels.

Chariot Energy is striving to solve both issues. We build enormous solar farms that power the electricity we deliver, which addresses the economies of scale issue. This way, you can use 100% green energy in your home without the challenges of solar panel installation and at rates just as affordable as regular Texas electricity companies. Plus, despite decreased costs, it can take the average U.S. homeowner nearly 8 years to break even on solar panel installations. You don’t have to  wait that long. Support the industry now and enjoy the benefits of 100% solar energy today!

Click here to learn how Chariot Energy is cutting out the middlemen and providing customers 100% clean, renewable solar energy.

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