Solar 101: Frequently Asked Questions

When we talk about solar energy, it can be said that it is no longer a new development as many are practically enjoying the benefits of this clean and renewable energy. Despite the increase in its usage, many folks still have questions regarding this power source. 

Therefore, in this article, we will be looking at some basic frequently asked questions about solar energy. Without further ado, let’s get started.

What is Solar Energy?

This refers to the energy gotten from the sun. It is regarded as the most available and abundant energy source. The amount of energy generated by the sun in a day is ten thousand times more than what can be used around the globe. 

It is regarded as clean or renewable energy because it is natural and readily available. You can visit to learn more about renewable energy. 

These days, thanks to technological advancements, the power of the sun can be harnessed and used in homes and offices. Hence, solar energy accounts for over 1/8th of the total energy sources that are used in the U.S. 

This fraction includes the power we use to dry foods, stay warm, and grow crops. Apart from these traditional uses we just mentioned, solar energy is now used to power homes and warm water. 

How Does Solar Power Work?

According to the government, the sunlight that reaches the surface of the earth within 1 ½ hours is sufficient to take care of one year of the entire earth’s energy consumption.

As we said, this power is gotten from the big ball of gas in the sky which is a result of the emission of light via electromagnetic radiation. 

When solar panels are installed, the sunlight and radiation from the sun are then converted into usable power for our devices. The sun’s heat radiation causes a reaction; this reaction then produces usable electricity. 

Is Solar Radiation Harmful to the Earth?

The radiation of the sun in itself is not harmful to the earth in any way. The earth itself absorbs 70 percent of the sun’s radiation while 30 percent reflects into space. The amount of energy that comes from the sun as well as that which returns into space determines the average earth’s temperature.

The danger however lies with the greenhouse gases that are produced due to fossil fuels that are burning. These gases trap solar radiation which causes a rise in the temperature of our planet.  

What is the Process of Producing Solar Power?

The radiation from the sun is captured by the PV (photovoltaic) cells within the panels. The trapped radiation is then transformed into useable electricity. 

The panels used for this process are usually made up of more than 60 cells and are of two types which are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The wattage difference between these two is marginal. 

Although both types perform the same functions, a single silicon crystal is used to manufacture monocrystalline panel cells while several melted fragments of silicon are used to manufacture polycrystalline panel cells. 

Monocrystalline panels are much more expensive, sleeker-looking, and possess better conversion efficiencies. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels are cheaper, less attractive, and possess somewhat lower efficiencies.

For the transformation of the radiation into useable electricity to be successful, an intricate process that involves the panels, PV (photovoltaic) module, inverters, wiring, etc. must occur. 

The cells’ core consists of the PV (photovoltaic) module which when hit by sunlight causes the individual cells to produce DC (direct current) voltage. DC (direct current) and AC (alternating current) wiring are the elements that switch on or off the power from the system’s inverter. 

The inverter’s job is to take the direct current voltage from the panel or/and batteries and then convert it into alternating current which can then be used in the home or office or the grid.

Sometimes, batteries are installed for the purpose of storing unused power which you can use there is little or no sunlight (at night or on cloudy days). 

The current is also regulated into the PV batteries with the aid of solar controllers. Electricity is produced as a result of the components and processes we just described above. 

What is the Cost of Solar Power? 

 Thanks to the advancement in technology, the cost of panels is on a decline. The price however is dependent on the federal solar tax credit and the size of the system itself. Hence, a system of 10 kilowatts falls within a range of $17,650 – $23,828 whereas the average cost per watt has a range of $2.40 – $3.22. You should also know that the amount of power you intend to generate also influences the cost. 

The table below shows the average price of panels according to the system size:

System Size Average Panel System Price (Tax Credits Included) Average Panel System Price (Tax Credits not Included)
2 kilowatts  $4,159 $5,620
3 kilowatts  $6,238 $8,430
4 kilowatts $8,318 $11,240
5 kilowatts $10,397 $14,050
6 kilowatts $12,476 $16,860
7 kilowatts $14,556 $19,670
8 kilowatts $16,635 $22,480
9 kilowatts  $18,715 $25,290
10 kilowatts  $20,794 $28,100
12 kilowatts $24,953 $33,720
15 kilowatts $41,588 $42,150
20 kilowatts $41,588 $56,200
25 kilowatts $51,985 $70,250

As you can see from the chart above that the inclusion of the federal tax credit cuts the price by 26%. This is done to encourage many folks to choose this power source instead. 

You should also bear in mind that the price is also dependent on the state you live in. Therefore, before you choose an installer who will perform the installation, ensure that you compare prices first. This will enable you to get an idea of what the average cost is and then secure a great deal. 


There are several uses of solar energy which include the provision of electricity in homes, heating water, powering vehicles, etc. As a result of these uses, it is only natural that folks have questions about this technology. Hence, the article above has answered some of the basic questions that folks might have about this power source.   

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