How easy is it to have a solar panel (heating system) installed if your house is heated by the grid?

How easy is it to have a solar panel (heating system) installed if your house is heated by the grid?

How easy is it to have a solar panel (heating system) installed if your house is heated by the grid?

What are the pros and cons?
If you live in a sunny area, is it worth the hassle so that you have less of an impact on the environment?

To some extent all of our houses are dependent upon grid electricity for heating because even oil or gas units have electrical components.

If your home has electric heat it is probably located in an area where this was an reasonable installation choice. This is probably because the electricity is relatively cheap in your area due to a nearby hydroelectric power station. Many of the areas well served by hydro power are not as good for solar power and the opposite is also true.

The amount of solar radiation received is known as the insolation value. An example of a “sunny” area with high insolation values would be like this one: http://www.nrel.gov/csp/pdfs/csp_sw.pdf

Solar panels may be a viable option for several reasons. A “sunny” area may not be as important a criteria as the availability of grants and tax credits in your area. Technology is always improving and this may be something to watch. But all of this only goes to the economic question of how long before the system “pays for itself.” Perhaps you are more concerned with the environment and are less concerned about the economics. This is also a valid consideration.

There are two broad distinctions in “solar panels.” One branch is photovoltaic that produce DC electricity that must be converted to “AC” with an inverter. In some locations you can have a meter that runs both ways and then you can sell your unused electricity to the power company through “the grid.”

Solar thermal is the other type of panels. They are a more mature technology and generally are more cost effective systems. You should slice up your energy usage differently. Your hot water may take up 30% of your total energy usage. Perhaps you are using an Electric Hot Water Heater at this time. It could be converted to a solar hot water system using solar thermal panels. Your air conditioning usage can also be a heavy energy demand. There are AC systems that run from solar thermal panels like a gas refrigerator.

Last there are two other solar thermal options that might be useful in your house. Both are different kinds of additions. One is a solar room that when you install plants would be called a greenhouse. The other is to install a Trombe wall by glazing the exterior of a masonry wall. Both of these systems would provide additional warm air to your home.

By reducing the demand for grid electricity you are doing the same thing as having solar photovoltaic panels that will supply part of your usage but with a cheaper technology.

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