A Quick Guide to Going Solar

January 19, 2016

Answers to your questions about going solar.

Editors Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to save money on your electricity bills and/or lead a more green life, you might consider switching to a renewable energy such as emission-free solar power.

According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, in the next two years the amount of solar power used in the United States is expected to double, with more than 16 states expected to have more than 100MW installed in 2016.

But smart consumers don’t just sign up with the first solar company to knock on their front door. Just as you’d do some research before buying a computer or a new car, you’ll want to do your homework before deciding which solar power system is right for your home or business.

SunPower has been a leading solar technology innovator for more than 30 years, so we like to think we know a few things about harnessing the sun to power our world.

We’ve compiled a short guide to our most popular "How to Go Solar" content to help answer some of the most common questions we get asked about our solar panels.

What is solar energy?

Solar 101: How Do Solar Panels Work?

This post explains the amazing science behind solar energy, such as how photons from the sun are captured by silicon cells in a solar panel and converted into electricity. When photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, voila, you have electricity.

Cost of going solar

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

While we often get asked, "How much will a 3kw system cost," for example, it’s important to understand that you’re not just buying solar panels off a shelf. SunPower will actually custom design your very own solar power system. The cost of your solar power system depends on several factors, including how much sun your rooftop receives, how much power you use and the roof size. This article will help you determine the cost of going solar and how much money it could save you over time.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

The cost of your solar system — and your question: Are solar panels worth it? — depends on the number of panels you need to generate enough electricity to serve your demand. This post explains in four steps how to answer this question. To calculate how many solar panels you need, you must determine how much energy your household uses; your roof’s usable surface area; the climate and peak sunlight in your area; the wattage and relative efficiency of the photovoltaic (PV) technology of your panels; and whether net metering is available. If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. A SunPower® solar advisor can give you a free evaluation to help you figure out if solar is right for your home or business.

How to install solar panels

Choosing a Home Solar Installation Company

Ready to go solar? This post outlines six tips for finding an expert to install your solar panels. It outlines questions to ask about solar panel installation, such as which products the installer uses, whether a warranty is offered and what it covers, payment options and what are the local utility rules for solar power.

Solar Panel Installation in Seven Steps

Once you've signed your solar contract, this graphic explains in very simple and visual terms the seven steps to installing a home solar system so you'll know what to expect along the way.

Solar power pros & cons

The Truth About Solar Energy

Having some healthy skepticism about a major household improvement project such as going solar makes sense. After all, you're investing in a technology with a useful life of 40 years! Take a look at four pros and cons of going solar and debunks some common myths.

10 Solar Energy Pros and Cons

Interested in learning more? Try our solar calculator to see whether going solar is worth it.

If you’re ready to talk to one of our solar advisors, fill out this form and we’ll get in touch with you. You can also call us at 1-800-786-7693.

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