With growing concerns about the environment, rising energy costs and unstable economies more people every day look to the possibility of installing solar panels so that they can generate their own electricity. The subject isn’t however as clean cut as you might expect and after investigating a little you will undoubtedly be filled with questions. A few of the most popular questions have been addressed here.

How many solar panels will I need to install?
This really is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. You first have to work out how much electricity you consume on a daily basis. You can easily do this by consulting your old utility bills. Take into consideration that your summer usage and winter usage will be different. Then you need to look at the type of solar panel you will be installing. Each panel has an energy rating signaling the amount of electricity that they produce. Ideally, you will need panels which produce a little more that you consume. You will then discover that you are going to need a lot of space for panels and quite a large budget to go with it.

What if the sun doesn’t shine or if it rains?
Obviously your solar panels will not be generating electricity all of the time. Apart from the overcast and rainy days you also have night time to take into consideration. For this reason the solar panels should really be connected to a bank of batteries where the electricity can be stored. Most household appliances will not run off battery power so a device called an inverter is used to convert DC electricity from the batteries into AC electricity that can be used around the house.

Can I sell my surplus electricity?
Yes this is possible. There are companies that will install your solar system and a special electricity meter which is capable of running backwards. This way, you have no batteries. When you are not generating electricity you are using the current from the utility company. When you are generating electricity, all the extra that you are not using will go back into the grid and your meter will start to run backwards. This is not a very efficient system however as the price that the electric companies pay for your electricity is very low and it will only serve to lower your bill a little. you will hardly ever end up making money out of it.

Can I make my own solar panels?
The photovoltaic cells that are the heart of the solar panels cannot be made at home. They can however be bought as factory seconds off eBay. the are only very slightly chipped and have the same electrical output as their specification and cost just a fraction of the price. Many of these can be soldered together and mounted in a glass covered frame and you have your own cut price solar panel. There are blueprints for making solar panels available on the internet.