Solar 101: Understanding the Basics Before Going Online

Dec 26th 23
12:21:55 pm

When it comes to solar installation, it is easy to feel lost and give up if you do not have all the information you need to make an informed decision for your home and energy future. In today's blog, we are returning to the fundamental principles of solar energy.

How do solar panels work?

Every solar panel is made of a series of solar cells, which collectively harness a significant amount of energy from the sun's rays. The generation of energy by solar panels is attributed to the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect refers to the physical process that occurs inside a solar cell. When sunlight shines onto a solar cell, direct current (DC) electricity is generated and sent through an inverter to create useable alternate current (AC) energy.

How do solar batteries work?

A solar battery is used to store excess solar energy generated by a solar installation during peak sunshine hours. When your home uses less solar energy than your panels are producing, the extra energy can be stored in its DC form, then passed through an inverter and used in its AC form when necessary. Solar batteries can help homeowners achieve 100% energy independence from the utility grid and can provide welcome relief during blackouts, keeping essential appliances running while the grid is down.

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

There are two main types of solar panels, which are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than the other types and are expensive due to the exhaustive manufacturing process. Each monocrystalline solar cell consists of a pure silicon crystal that must be extracted as a single ingot, requiring expertise, specialized machinery, and additional time for manufacturing. Polycrystalline solar panels are manufactured faster because instead of trying to extract a pure silicon crystal, each solar cell consists of a crystal that has naturally fractured into multiple crystals during the cooling process. If you have limited space, monocrystalline solar panels are the way to go, but for homes with wider expanses of roof space, polycrystalline solar panels work just as well.

Financing Options: What Are They?

So now you know about solar panels, how they work and how to store their energy. But how do you pay for them? Solar energy is an investment that may not be feasible for many homeowners to pay upfront in cash. That is why solar lenders have alternative ways to make solar more accessible to homeowners. solar financing options


Paying in cash for a solar installation is the simplest method and offers the most significant long-term savings, reducing bills starting immediately.


A solar loan is the best way to finance a solar installation and save in the long term. Your monthly payment will be less than what you currently pay for electricity. After your payback period ends, you get more than a decade of solar savings directly into your pocket.

PPA/Solar Lease

A power purchase agreement (PPA) allows you to lease solar panels and save on your electricity bills with solar energy. However, you should be aware that signing a solar lease means you do not own your solar installation and cannot claim any solar rebates or incentives.

Saving More With Incentives

Many homeowners stand to save a lot more if they take complete advantage of available state, utility and federal solar incentives.


Most US states provide their residents with a net-metering program. They all work essentially the same way, though rates may differ. Homeowners receive credits from their utility company for any excess solar energy they send back into the grid. Net metering programs help stabilize the grid with renewable energy and maximize savings for homeowners.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

This tax credit reduces 30% of solar installation costs on both solar panels and battery storage. If the tax you owe is less than the credit value, you can carry forward the credit to the following year. This substantial incentive is available to all homeowners who have a tax liability.

State Incentives

Many states offer additional incentives for solar installation, helping reduce the payback period and increase return on investment. Researching and discovering available incentives is advisable before investing in solar.

Utility Incentives

Many utilities incentivize the adoption of solar technology. Contact your local utility provider to find out what rebates or incentives you may be eligible for after investing in solar energy.

Solar Panel Maintenance

Solar panels do not need a lot of maintenance since they do not have any moving parts. The photovoltaic effect may not function effectively if the solar panels' surface does not receive sunlight, hence it is advisable for homeowners to clean their solar panels gently up to twice a year and ensure that any debris around the panels gets cleaned regularly. A critter guard can help stop birds and squirrels from nesting near solar panels and trimming back any vegetation surrounding or shading solar panels makes all the difference to efficiency. Scheduled inspections will ensure that your solar panels are working safely and continue to provide peak performance. If possible, use a solar monitoring system so that you can act immediately to correct dips in production or mechanical failures. solar panel maintenance

How does going solar online work?

Homeowners can purchase their solar installation online with Solar Quote’s AI-powered platform. This process is quick, straightforward, and economical, enter your address and utility bill amount, and our AI tool will swiftly create a design for your home that maximizes efficiency. From there, you can choose your solar panel brand and opt for battery storage, guided by our recommendations.

Following that, choose between loan and cash payment options. Our finance decision engine narrows down the best options for you based on your choice between the lowest payment, shortest term and lowest interest rate. After securing your solar loan, you can conveniently sign the contract online using our DocuSign integration, eliminating the need for a face-to-face meeting. Once the contract is signed, you have the ability to access our customer portal to check the specifics of your solar project, monitor its progress at every stage, and reach out to support whenever necessary. Ready to experience the ease of going solar direct online? Try out our AI tool now!

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