We all know that solar and other kinds of renewable energy are better for the environment than traditional power production methods. Traditional energy production typically involves burning coal, gas and oil to boil water, which in turn generates steam to propel turbines. Over the past century, a few other large-scale energy production methods have emerged, each of which are cleaner and more efficient than the traditional fuel burning methods. Examples of these new technologies include hydro dams and nuclear plants. Hydro dams use the flow and pressure of water to generate electricity, while nuclear plants use chemical reactions to heat water, which in turn produces steam to move turbines. But what about the benefits of using other renewables such as solar and wind power?

In the US, most renewable power production is limited to personal consumption, a trend that will hopefully change in the near future. Currently, there are only a handful of commercial solar power plants operating in the US. These power plants are mainly located around the southwestern US, which has favorable weather conditions for solar power production. Among the largest solar power plants in the US are the SEGS thermal plant in California, the Nevada Solar One, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Center in the Mojave Desert, and the Solana Generating Center in Arizona. In comparison to the thousands of traditional power plants, solar power generation is a very small fraction of all power produced in the US.

While commercial solar power production is still minimal, it is becoming more and more common from homeowners to install their own on-grid power systems. This is in part, thanks to the federal tax incentives and improved efficiency of solar power systems. Many customers also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a long output warranty, which is dependent on the solar panel manufacturer (warranty lengths vary). Some customers install on-grid power systems to save on their monthly power bills, while others are simply looking to lessen their environmental impact. Many solar manufacturers have also come out with on-grid complete kits, which include all of the components necessary for a solar installation. These kinds of kits are especially attractive to the customers who plan to install the panels on their own.

On-grid solar power kits work in conjunction with the commercial power grid. The solar panels are typically expected to produce more power than a homeowner consumes, resulting in excess electricity being transferred back to the commercial power company. Net metering allows homeowners to send excess power to the power company; otherwise, excess power must be stored in batteries. Many, but not all utility companies, buy back electricity at the same rate it is sold to their customers. To use an off-grid system, replace a normal power meter with a net meter or a two-way meter to work with net metering system. Be sure to consult an electrician or certified solar installation company before getting on your own roof to begin a project.

While on-grid solar installations are on the rise, there are some new threats to the solar industry. These threats include the expiration of federal tax incentives and the possibility of newer or more efficient energy production methods eventually overtaking solar power. The good news is that solar panel manufacturing companies are always developing newer and more advanced technologies to compete with other alternative energy manufacturers. In the event that panels are imported from China, the government has also imposed new tariffs, which for some companies, drove up the solar panel prices. In the future, new tariffs may have a similar effect, and possible negative impact on the solar industry. Some commercial power companies are also decreasing their buy back rates, angering customers and dissuading other homeowners from purchasing on-grid systems.

Thankfully, all of the Renogy On-Grid Solar Complete Kits are priced competitively, and the federal tax credit has been extended through December 31, 2016. The Complete Kits range in price from as little as $2,309.99 to $12,399.99, which is significantly less than many other competitors. Even in the event that the local power company reduces buy back rates, a Renogy Complete Kit is still a relatively inexpensive investment. With so many kits to choose from, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a kit that best suits your needs, at a price you can afford. Please call Renogy for additional information.