If you’re considering solar panels for your home, it’s natural to have questions and to want to do some research before committing. Use this valuable beginner’s guide to help you determine whether solar panels are right for you.

What Is Solar Energy & How Does It Power My Home?

Solar energy comes from a process called the photovoltaic effect, where the energy from sunlight is converted into electricity. To do this, you need a solar power system.

A solar power system uses solar panels to collect energy from the sun. Once the energy is collected, it travels through an inverter that changes the energy into a new form that we can use for power. Any extra energy generated will be stored in the utility grid or backup batteries until needed.

What Is Net Metering?

Your power company will most likely use a method referred to as net metering when calculating your power bill. Net metering means that when you generate more energy than you use, you earn credits to put toward your bill later.

What Are Solar Panels Made Of?

A solar cell is a small square made from silicon, which is a chemical element with conductive properties that is used to create an electrical current. Solar cells are laid out on a protective backing in a grid pattern, and then the panel is covered with glass. A panel is made up of either 60 cells or 72 cells. Several panels together create an array, which generates enough electricity to power your home.

Solar panels are made from either monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells. Polycrystalline cells are a blend of silicon bits, while monocrystalline cells are pure silicon.

Are Solar Panels Really Worth It?

Check out some of the pros and cons of solar panels to help you decide.


  • Renewable resource (good for the environment)
  • Lower energy bills
  • Improved property value
  • Power is available even when you’re off the grid


  • Bad weather can make them temporarily less effective
  • Higher upfront costs
  • You need to have enough space on your roof

Grid-Tie vs Off-Grid

As the name implies, a grid-tie system is tied to the grid. In other words, the utility grid is used to store energy until you need it. This is what is typically used when you get solar panels for your home.

Off-grid systems are used for properties that do not have easy access to city power grids. You will need a battery system to store unused energy for later. You can also opt for a hybrid of the two systems, which connects to the grid and uses batteries in case of power outages.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels typically last about 25 years, and it is not uncommon for them to outlast their warranties. However, some of the parts, such as the inverter, will most likely need to be replaced at least once during this time.

What is Solar Panel Efficiency?

Solar panel efficiency measures the amount of energy from the sun that the panel is able to convert. For example, if the sun sends 500 watts of power into your system and your system converts 100 watts into usable energy, your panels run at 20% efficiency.

High-efficiency panels are great for getting more energy out of a smaller panel, but if you have the space for more panels, you don’t really need them to be high-efficiency.

Can I Install Them Myself?

It is possible to install the panels yourself if you have the ability to move very heavy objects around on your roof and you have solid electrical knowledge. However, it is much safer and smarter to hire a professional.

Are They Difficult to Maintain?

Actually, no. Solar panels do not require a lot of maintenance. Check them after bad weather or after a few months have passed to make sure they are not covered in dust, debris, or snow. Use a soft brush or broom to carefully clean them off.

Are There Incentives for Switching to Solar?

There is a federal tax credit, where 26% of your cost can be used as a credit on your taxes. There may also be state tax benefits in your area, so check with your power company or solar company for details.

Get Started With Smart Wave Solar

Smart Wave Solar can help you get started today. We’ll also offer backup batteries for your generator, which we’ll install at no additional cost!

Contact Smart Wave Solar for more information about solar panels for your home.

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