install solar panels on your home with these tips

How to Install Solar Panels on Your Home

Solar panels stand out among other sources of alternative energy as a clean and effective way to supply electricity to households. While many other sources of alternative energy aren’t accessible for homeowners, solar is easy to come by. But before switching to solar power, it’s best to weigh up all the pros and cons. This will help you make the best choice for your household. It’s a big commitment to install solar panels at your property, so you’ll want to make sure you do it right.

Benefits of Going Solar for Residential Power

Homeowners differ in why they choose to go solar. For some, it’s simply a desire to reduce their carbon footprint, but there’s more to going solar than pure philanthropy. Installing solar panels at your home could save a lot of money long-term.

On average, American homeowners who get solar panels installed break even after about 7.5 years. So, after approximately 7.5 years homeowners will save the entire sum spent on the initial solar panel installation. After this period, all the money a homeowner saves by using solar panels is a true saving.

When buying a good brand of solar panels, a residential solar system can last anywhere between 25-30 years. This means that most homeowners can expect their solar system to “pay for itself” in savings about threefold.

However, many homeowners are concerned that they won’t stay at their current residence long enough to warrant such investment. If you want to install solar panels on you home, but you’re not planning to stay another 25 years, there’s good news for you. Solar panels can increase the value of your property and can also help you sell your home faster.

Unfortunately, installing a solar power system isn’t as simple as buying panels and placing them on your roof. There are some things you’ll need to know about getting solar panels before you buy them.

What are the Requirements to Get Solar Panels?

Solar panels require the right conditions to work properly. If your property gets too much shade, installing solar panels won’t help much. This means that solar panel installation at your home could see you chopping down trees and changing your initial plans to ensure the solar power system produces enough electricity.

Solar Panel Roofing Requirements

Thankfully, solar panels can easily be installed on most common roof types. As far as roofing materials are concerned, asphalt shingles are among the most popular choice for homeowners. Solar panels can quite easily be installed on asphalt shingles, making them accessible for the majority of homeowners.

Materials that are generally suitable for solar panel installations include:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Metal roofing
  • Various flat roofing materials

There are some materials, like slate and wood that aren’t suitable for solar panel installation, however.

But before considering your roofing material, it’s good to have a look at the current state of your roof. On average, asphalt shingles last about 20 years or more. If your roofing is older than 5 years, chances are it won’t last as long as your solar energy system. In such cases, you might have to add new roofing onto your list of expenses for installing solar panels on your home.

Another common roofing issue is the pitch of your roof. Solar panels require a pitch of about 30 degrees to work effectively. This can pose a problem is your home has a flat roof. To solve to pitching problem, solar panels can be installed onto mounting brackets that tilt them up at the optimal angle.

One of the last things to consider is the size of your roof and the amount of sun it receives. There’s no use installing solar panels in areas of your roof that don’t get a lot of sun throughout the day. Areas of your roof facing south will usually receive the most sun.

Whichever way it goes, chances are good your whole roof area won’t be suitable for laying solar panels, so it helps if you have a large area to begin with.

Must Solar Panels Always Be on a Roof?

It can be disappointing to learn that your roof isn’t suitable to install solar panels on. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a solar energy system at all. If you have a large yard that receives a lot of sun throughout the day, installing a ground mount solar system might be an option for you.

Are Solar Energy Systems Connected to the Grid?

Ideally your solar energy system should be connected to the grid, yes. Staying connected to the grid will help if your solar panels aren’t generating enough electricity to keep up with your energy consumption. In times when there isn’t a lot of sun, such as rainy days and at night, being connected to the grid will also help you keep the lights on.

Another benefit of connecting your solar power to the grid is net metering. With net metering, you’ll receive credits from your power company whenever your system is generating more electricity than you consume. During times when your system isn’t generating enough power, these credits can go towards paying your electricity bill.

How Much Electricity Can Residential Solar Panels Generate?

Like most homeowners, you’re probably interested to learn how much of your electrical needs a solar power system can cover. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question.

The output of your system will depend on a few things such as:

  • How much space you available to install solar panels.
  • Your average household energy consumption.
  • How much you’re willing to spend on a solar energy system.
  • The weather conditions at any particular moment.

To begin with, you can monitor your power usage closely to get an idea of your energy consumption. This is the best way to go about getting solar power at your residence, as you can try to plan your system based on your power usage. Even if you’re unable to get a system that covers 100% of your energy needs, knowing your average usage will help you get the best idea of what your system will do for you.

In some cases, it can help to reduce your power usage, as your system might fall just a bit short of generating enough electricity to fulfill all your current energy requirements.

When calculating how much power a system will ultimately produce, it’s best to give yourself about a 25% buffer. Even if a system could theoretically produce enough electricity for your household, its true capacity will vary depending on the weather, season and time of day.

With solar power, it’s better to overestimate rather than underestimate. If your home is connected to the grid, the extra power from your solar panels could earn you enough credits so you don’t have to pay for electricity even when your system isn’t generating enough power to meet your energy usage requirements.

Installing a Solar Panels on Your Home: What You Should Know

When push comes to shove and you’re ready to install your solar energy system, you’ll need to do it the right way. This will involve some paperwork (like energy audits and paperwork for energy rebates). In many states, you’ll also require permits. Finding a reliable electrician to help, as your electrician might be able to advise you
with regards to what permits you’ll need.

Additionally, working with a qualified, licensed electrician on your solar panel installation will ensure that all the necessary wiring is connected in a safe way that meets the safety standards and laws.

Choosing an electrician for your home solar panel installation shouldn’t be something you base purely on price. Although you’re likely to incur many expenses to get solar panels, trying to save on electrical installation can be counter-productive. After the hefty investment of buying quality solar panels, you don’t want to risk damage to your solar panels because of poor installation.

It’s important to ask your electrical installer about previous experience on similar jobs. Also ask contractors if they have the necessary licensing to operate as a contractor or electrician in Florida. If a contractor claims to have the required licensing, don’t relent from asking them to prove it. Only a qualified electrician can sign off on the installation work, so it’s important to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

light bulbs burn out immediately

Why Some Light Bulbs Burn out Immediately?

There’s no doubt that light bulbs are a simple, yet profound and often overlooked electrical invention. Without light bulbs, humanity would still be stuck with candle light after sundown. Most people don’t notice the significance of light bulbs until one blows, leaving them in the dark.

Unfortunately, sometimes light bulbs in certain fixtures can blow far too quickly, or even immediately, leaving you in the dark far too often. If you have a few problematic light bulb fixtures in your house, learning more about what causes the problem can help you keep the lights on for longer.

Can Faulty Wiring Cause Light Bulbs to Burn Out?

Blaming faulty wiring for blowing light bulbs won’t help you solve your problem. Faulty wiring is vague and undescriptive. To say that faulty wiring is causing your light bulbs to blow isn’t any more helpful than to blame bad weather. To solve the problem, you need to know where the faulty wiring is so it can be fixed.

If you already got an electrician out to look at your problem and you were told faulty wiring was the issue, but the electrician was unable to tell you where the wiring problem is, then chances are your problem isn’t caused by wiring at all.

Sometimes the reason behind your blowing light bulbs can be simple, other times it might require some investigation to get to the root of your problem. Regardless, don’t assume your light bulbs are blowing due to “faulty wiring” and simply leave the problem to persist. If faulty wiring really were the cause, it might pose a risk, which you’d surely want to know about.

Causes for Light Bulbs Burn out Too Quickly

There are some common causes for light bulbs burning out too quickly and some of them are surprisingly simple to fix.

Bad Light Bulbs

Sometimes the reason why a light bulb burns out quickly isn’t so much about your home’s wiring or the light bulb fixture. Often, bulbs burning out are just poor quality from the start. Buying a different brand of bulb may solve your problem.

This can especially be the case if you find that light bulbs in your house burn out quickly, but inconsistently. In other words, you might replace the same light bulb twice within six months, only for it to last up to a year the next time you replaced it. Assuming there’s no difference in the type and brand of light bulb you bought and that light bulbs across different fixtures show no consistency in how long they last, inconsistent bulb quality could be your problem.

LED bulbs are a high quality bulb alternative that can last much longer than traditional bulbs or compact fluorescent lights.

Before you rejoice, however, there are other underlying problems that could manifest in a similar way that aren’t quite as simple to fix.

Too High Voltage

Another problem that can have symptoms similar to bad light bulbs, is if your light bulbs are getting too much power supply. American homes typically receive 120v power supply, however, the 120v power supply isn’t as consistent as you may think.

It often happens that some homes receive a slightly higher voltage. Most appliances have no problem running on a power supply that’s a bit too high, but light bulbs can be sensitive to changes in voltage.

To identify this problem, you’ll need to measure the voltage at different electrical outlets in your house, especially in areas where your light bulbs often blow. If the voltage consistently reads higher than 120v, this is most probably your problem. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to test the voltage of your electric outlets, or if you don’t have the equipment. You can hire a qualified local electrician – it’s quick, easy and should be relatively cheap if measuring voltage is your only requirement.

Switching to 130v globes can solve your problem if it’s only in certain areas of your home. On the other hand, if you’re constantly replacing light bulbs everywhere in your house, calling your electrical provider might be a smarter choice.

Light Fixture Vibration

When light bulbs are often exposed to fixture vibration, it can shorten their lifespan. Examples of light bulbs that are at risk for high fixture vibration include light bulbs attached to ceiling fans, garage door openers or below rooms with lots of activity (such as children’s rooms or indoor gyms).

Buying light bulbs that tougher is the easiest way to get your bulbs to last. Rough service bulbs, 130v bulbs and LED globes are all great options for difficult light fixtures.

Light Bulbs are Overheating

Using light bulbs with the wrong wattage for a fixture can cause your globes to overheat. This is because your globes will heat up unevenly, which leads the them burning out prematurely.

Light bulbs in closed fixtures are also at higher risk for burning out quickly, as there isn’t enough ventilation in a closed fixture to keep the bulb cool enough.

Switching to a lower bulb wattage, as well as using bulbs that are approved for use in closed fixtures could solve your problem. Alternatively, you could replace your fixtures so all of them are the same, in which case you can buy the same light bulbs for any place in your house.

Faulty Light Fixtures

In some cases, your blowing light bulbs have nothing to do with the globes you use or your power supply. Your light fixtures might be the problem. Especially in cases where one specific bulb in your home keeps burning out constantly, or even immediately after installation, the fixture is most likely to blame.

Screwing a light bulb into a fixture too tightly can permanently damage the socket. Even if you know how to change a light bulb the right way, without using too much force, if any other person has ever screwed a light bulb too tightly into one of the light fixtures in your home, it could be permanently damaged.

Seeing as excessive force can damage your light fixtures, you should also exercise caution not to use too much force whenever you’re inserting a new light bulb. Learn how tightly your bulbs need to be screwed in so they’re not too loose or tight.

Poorly Installed Fixtures or Wiring

While faulty wiring is a vague and often isn’t the problem with your light bulbs that burn out immediately, there are cases where poor connections can problems. When your either fixtures or wiring aren’t properly connected and there are wires that are half loose, you might find that some of your light bulbs burn out within a matter of days.

Worse yet, poorly connected wires are a danger, as they can lead to electrical burns in your home. If you’ve explored some other options and your have reason to suspect that your light bulbs burning out could be the result of loose electrical wiring, you should contact an electrician to help you fix the problem as soon as possible.

What if My Circuit Breaker Trips?

Tripped circuit breakers and blown fuses are normally caused by a short in an electrical circuit. This could be because of a defective plug or light socket. Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t reset the breaker until the underlying problem has been fixed, so calling in an electrician to help before proceeding is the best thing to do.

When to Call an Electrician?

It’s frustrating when your light bulbs burn out at a faster pace than you’re able to replace them. On top of this, the underlying reason why your light bulbs are burning out could also pose a risk for an electrical fire.

If you’ve explored options such as installing 130v bulbs, or your problem seems to be unrelated to basic causes such as vibration, overheating due to closed fixtures or a bad brand of bulb, then calling an electrician is your best option. Especially if you find that a single light in your house is burning out on a regular basis, perhaps even monthly, this may be cause for concern.

A qualified, licensed electrician can help you replace damages fixtures, fix loose wiring and test the voltage supply to your home. For electrician services in Miami, you can contact Miami Electric Wizards today. We are a qualified electrician company who will help you get to the root of your problem.

9 Different Sources of Alternative Energy

As the general population realizes the importance of living an environmentally friendly lifestyle, alternative energy sources have been gaining more popularity. There are multiple ways to generate electricity that emit no greenhouse gases, as well as some alternatives that emit less greenhouse gases.

Currently, fossil fuels are the main source of energy worldwide, and powers up most cities globally. To understand the importance of alternative sources, it’s good to understand the negative impact that fossil fuels have on the environment, as well as how renewable alternative energy sources eliminate those concerns.

The Negative Impact of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are any fuels that are taken from the remains of dead organisms, such as plants and animal life, that roamed the Earth a long time ago. Once these organisms were buried, they’re remains decayed under the Earth’s surface in hot conditions without any oxygen. This resulted in the formation of fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas (also called fossil gas).

These fossil fuels are burnt to release energy. The most common source of electricity is coal. Coal is used to generate electricity in many powerplants all over the world. While crude oil is also used as a fuel quite often, it’s used to keep cars running rather than to produce electricity.

There are several disadvantages to using fossil fuels as an energy souce.

Fossil Fuels are Non-Renewable Energy

Fossil fuels take a long time to form naturally under the Earth’s surface. To get the energy from fossil fuels, we burn and destroy them.

If humanity doesn’t come up with technology to allow rapid formation of new coal, crude oil and fossil gas, our supply fossil fuels will run out.

This energy source is finite, and if we don’t willingly switch to alternatives now, we’ll have to do it forcibly later. According to current predictions, our supply of fossil fuels will run out within the next 50 years.

Air and Environmental Pollution

Burning fossil fuels releases a large amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even though CO2 is a gas that naturally occurs in the atmosphere, the overabundance of CO2 that comes from burning fossil fuels is contributing to global warming.

However, not everyone is concerned about the effects of global warming, as it’s a process that’s somewhat difficult to observe. To encourage the use of alternative energy sources, it’s important to also focus on other pollutants that come from using fossil fuels.

If you’ve ever been in a big city, you might’ve seen a foggy haze covering the air close to the ground. While occasionally, this can just be fog, the source of the “fog” is usually more worrisome. This fog is actually a cloud of fossil fumes, which is a form of toxic air pollution. Toxic air pollution contains pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde. Both these chemicals are known carcinogens.

As and added disadvantage to the air pollution caused by fossil fuels, other areas of the environment are also negatively affected, particularly during oil spills and other disasters involving fossil fuels.

Mining Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels don’t only cause pollution we burn them for fuel or spills occur. Even regular mining practices are damaging to the environment. Mining fossil fuels involves moving large amounts of earth, either underground or on the surface.

Arguably the most damaging form of mining for fossil fuels are surface mines. Surface mines are mainly used to obtain coal. Once an area is fully mined out, it’s often left as a wasteland, as rehabilitation of open mines is costly. Even if land is rehabilitated, might not be the same as before.

In natural areas where wildlife roam freely, this form on mining completely destroys large areas of an ecosystem where animals previously lived in peace. In areas already inhabited by humans, open mines are often established on areas of land previously used for agricultural purposes. This means land that sustainably produced food for humans (and even animals owned by humans) to eat, is converted into an unproductive wasteland harvest its fossil fuel benefits only once.

Top 10 Alternative Energy Sources

We’re running out of fossil fuels. Using fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases. There’s a lot of pollution of environmental destruction involved in both extracting and using fossil fuel. All these are reasons to switch to renewable alternative energy sources. But what are some of our options in terms of alternative energy?

1. Solar Power

Perhaps the one of the most well-known and widely used forms of alternative energy is solar power. The benefit of solar power is that it uses energy from the sun and converts it into electricity. Energy from the sun is a completely renewable resource, seeing as the sun won’t burn out any time soon!

However, the biggest problem with solar power is that we use solar panels to harvest it. Solar panels take up a lot of space, making them reasonably impractical for mass production of electricity.

To solve the problem of space, Japan has a large solar energy plant that floats in the sea off the shore, however, this may still have a negative effect on the organisms living in the sea, as less sun reaches beneath the surface of the water – only time will tell.

On top of that, solar panels themselves contain a number of pollutants, which is concerning. Solar panels aren’t made to last forever and must be replaced every few years.

Because of this, solar power can be wonderful for households. Seeing as homeowners can all fit their solar panels to their own home, so enough space doesn’t have to be an issue. For mass-production of electricity, solar power still poses problems.

2. Wind Energy

wind alternative energy

Wind energy is harvested using wind turbines. Just like solar power, wind energy is a renewable resource, as we won’t be running out of wind any time soon. However, the challenges of producing wind energy is also similar to that of solar power. Both energy sources rely on optimal weather conditions to produce power, and both require quite a lot of space.

However, wind energy is more viable for mass power production than solar power. Many countries around the world have already built power stations that harvest wind energy for power.

3. Hydropower

Hydropower is power produced from moving water. Common sources of hydropower include waterfalls and rivers – where the movement of water is used to generate electricity. Dams can also be used to generate hydropower whenever the floodgates are opened as this creates a type of manmade waterfall.

Like solar energy and wind energy, hydropower is renewable, as rivers keep running, dams keep filling up. However, hydropower is also dependent on weather conditions, as draughts can lead to rivers, waterfalls and dams drying up. Unlike solar power, hydro electricity isn’t usually accessible to homeowners, unless there’s a river or other body of moving water close by.

4. Tidal Energy

tidal energy

Tidal energy can be seen as a form of hydropower, but unlike normal hydropower, tidal energy harvests electrical power from waves in the sea. This is more sustainable, as draughts won’t affect waves. However, tidal energy still isn’t widely implemented.

Another problem with tidal energy is that many countries are landlocked, and can therefore not harness tidal energy to produce electricity.

5. Biofuels

Biofuels aren’t commonly used to produce electricity. Instead, biofuels are used as an alternative to crude oil for fueling cars. Biofuels are typically made from plants which are often specifically farmed for the purpose of making fuel.

The good thing about biofuel is that it’s a renewable source of electricity, as agricultural activity can sustainably produce more plants to turn into biofuel. The bad thing about biofuel is that it still pollutes the environment when burnt. Another disadvantage is that converting society to run solely on biofuel would require humans to use more land for agriculture, destroying natural habitats to do so.

6. Nuclear Power

Nuclear powerplants are a popular source of alternative energy, but it’s definitely not a clean one. In a way, nuclear power only replaces the issues of fossil fuel power with a potentially worse problem – radioactive pollution. Radiation is a known cause of cancer, and is far more carcinogenic than any pollutant released by burning fossil fuels.

Nuclear power production produces large amounts of nuclear waste. In reality, it’s impossible to sustainably dispose of nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is usually buried beneath the Earth’s surface – often even in concrete slabs or stainless steel to contain the radiation.

Despite the disadvantages of nuclear power, many countries use it. These countries often pay the price when disasters such as Fukushima and Chernobyl strike.

7. Hydrogen Gas

Hydrogen gas is great as a fuel, because it burns completely clean. In the future, scientists may be able to develop technology to sustainably burn hydrogen to generate electricity for large populations, but currently, this isn’t a reality.

A large issue with hydrogen gas is that it’s also often derived from fossil fuels. However, there’s an abundance of hydrogen available in outer space. With technology to harvest this hydrogen, it could become a sustainable form of energy, but currently there’s no technology to make this possible.

8. Biomass Energy

biomass alternative energy

Biomass energy is derived from burning biological matter – usually wood. In recent years, biomass energy technology has developed, so waste from landfills can also be used.

The production of biomass energy might also pollute the air, although less than fossil fuels. When organic waste is used to produce biomass energy, it’s a good form of recycling. However, this form of energy isn’t as commonly used on either a domestic or industrial scale.

9. Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy uses energy from in the form of heat to produce power. This heat energy is obtained from deep beneath the Earth’s surface in areas such as hot water and rock beneath the surface of the Earth. Currently, geothermal energy is one of the newest and most promising sources of alternative energy. It’s clean and produces no pollutants. At present, one of the biggest challenges for geothermal energy is the large upfront cost of power plants.