Going solar has many benefits, and experimenting with solar power on only your garage can help you determine if it would be worth it to power your entire home with solar energy.
Using solar in your garage can particularly be beneficial if you use your garage on a daily basis for purposes other than just parking – such as using it as a workshop, a fitness room, or an entertainment space.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
You can use solar panels on your garage roof to power the lights, the garage door opener, security cameras, and even to charge your electric car battery.
A solar power system consists of these main components:
- Solar panels: absorb the sunlight.
- Inverter: converts the direct current (DC) electricity generated to alternating current (AC) electricity.
- Racking: mounting system that attaches your solar panels to your roof.
- Energy storage batteries: allows you to store excess electricity to be used at a later time.
Solar panels generate electricity from the sun through the following steps:
- Sunlight carries tons of tiny bits of energy known as photons, which hits the solar panel containing the solar cells.
- These photons hit the top layer of the solar cell and cause electrons to flow to the cell’s bottom layer.
- The electrons flow through conductive wiring to the inverter where it is transformed from DC electricity to AC electricity.
The average modern solar panel can generate around 350 watts under full sun, and gets between 3-7 hours of peak sunlight per day, depending on where you live and the time of year.
How much does it cost?
The total cost will depend on the number of solar panels it takes to power your garage through solar. However, in nearly every state in the US, the long-term cost of solar panels is less than buying electricity from the grid.
Benefits of Solar Panels
Despite the high initial costs of purchasing and installing solar panels, they have many benefits, and can save you a lot of money in the long run. A few benefits of solar power include:
- Reduces energy costs
- Does not produce air pollution
- Positive environmental impact
- Little to no maintenance required
- Durable, last up to 30 years
- Rebates offered in many states for installing solar panels on your roof.
4 Things to Consider Before Going Solar
Going solar doesn’t necessarily make sense for every person in every region. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.
- How much energy do you use? Measuring your energy use is important to determine how much energy you want to generate with your solar system. By knowing the average amount of energy you will be consuming in your garage, you can make an informed decision on how many solar panels you want to install and how much of your energy consumption can be covered by solar. A solar installer can help you determine this.
- Does your garage roof need repairs first? Before installing solar panels, your roof should be inspected to ensure that it can withstand the weight.
- Which direction do the slopes of your roof face? How much sunlight does your garage roof get? Solar panels require specific placement in order to generate the maximum amount of power. Typically, the best placement is to have the panels face south or west, depending on where you live.
- Do you want to be on-grid or off-grid?
On-Grid: The solar panels are connected to a public electricity grid. Any excess electricity generated is exported back to the public. The utility company will credit you for extra power produced, and allow you to pull from the grid when you need it.
If your solar panels are grid-tied, they will not work during a power outage. Although you don’t necessarily need a battery, it may be handy if you live in an area with an unreliable power grid, or you live in a region with a lot of natural disasters. Batteries also give you the freedom to use your solar power exactly when you need it.
Off-Grid: The solar panels are not connected to a public electric grid, which means your solar system relies on battery storage in order to operate. Although operating off-grid can provide more flexibility as to when you use your solar energy, batteries can be quite expensive.
Charging Your Electric Car with Solar Panels
Electric cars and solar panels are the ultimate combination for reducing environmental impact and energy costs. Adding an at-home charging station can also save you the time and money of looking for a public charging station to recharge at. You can simply plug your car in at night, and it will be ready to go in the morning.
In order to start charging your electric car with solar panels, you will have to install a home electric vehicle charging station. Getting your EV home charger set up will likely require some electrical work in the garage from a certified electrician to provide the charger’s 240-volt power source. Costs of charging stations vary, but the average EV charger installation cost is about $750.
Although the amount will vary depending on the size of your car’s battery, around 10 solar panels should generate enough electricity to charge the average car battery. For more information see How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
Now that you know that it is possible to power your garage using only solar power, you have some things to consider. If you own your home, use a lot of electricity in your garage, want to be more environmentally conscious, and there are significant rebates or incentives available in your area, then getting solar panels installed may be worth it to you.
For additional tips on how you can reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly utility costs in your garage, check out these garage energy efficiency tips. Garage Living can help you get your garage ready for solar panels and EV home charging. Schedule your free design consultation with us today.