Solar Panels Explained: What You Should Know

Due to the rising cost of energy in a changing economic environment, many people are worried about keeping their energy costs low while still enjoying the basic necessities for modern life. With quickly advancing technology, greater potential for energy storage, and the overall effectiveness of solar panels, it’s no wonder folks are making the switch for greater energy independence. But what do you need to know before dedicating yourself, and your roof, to solar panel use? Read ahead to learn more.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar panels, commonly known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are sophisticated devices that have the impressive ability to transform the sun’s radiant energy into usable electricity. This transformation process is rooted in the principles of photovoltaic science. The primary component of a solar panel is the solar cell, which is predominantly made from silicon. This silicon is often structured in two layers, each with a specific role. When sunlight hits a solar panel, it releases particles of light called photons. As these photons penetrate the solar cell, they knock loose electrons from the silicon.

This activity happens due to the special properties of the two silicon layers. The top layer is seeded with an element like phosphorus, which adds extra electrons. In contrast, the bottom layer gets a dose of boron, resulting in fewer electrons. This arrangement creates an electric field across the silicon. As photons knock electrons loose, the electric field drives them toward the front of the solar cell, creating an imbalance that results in a voltage. Just like a battery, this voltage can be drawn off by an external circuit and, voila, you have electricity!

The Pros

One of the primary benefits of solar panels is their environmental advantage. By relying on the sun for power, homeowners can drastically reduce their carbon footprint, contributing to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. The average lifetime of properly maintained solar panels is between 25 to 30 years, making them a long-term investment for your home or business. Moreover, solar panels can bring about substantial economic savings in the long run, with the current average being $1,500 in annual cost reduction. After the initial investment, the electricity generated is virtually free, reducing monthly utility bills. In many areas, homeowners can even earn credits for the surplus power they feed back into the grid.

The Cons

As promising as they might be, solar panels do come with some drawbacks. The most obvious is the initial cost, which at roughly $10,000 to $16,000 can be a mite steep. Fortunately, there are federal tax programs and sometimes even local assistance in the form of financing or incentive programs to help make the cost more affordable. There’s also the factor of upkeep. While solar panels generally require minimal maintenance, they still need periodic cleaning and might require repairs if damaged. Furthermore, their efficiency can decrease over time, meaning the amount of electricity they produce can wane as they age.


Installing solar panels on your roof isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Finding a qualified and experienced contractor is crucial to ensure a safe and efficient setup. Space constraints can pose a challenge: your roof might not have enough space to accommodate the number of panels you need to meet your energy requirements. Plus, the direction and angle of your roof can influence the efficiency of your panels. Lastly, while solar panels can last for decades, their end-of-life disposal raises environmental concerns due to limited recycling options.

Talk with Wagner

Before making a decision, it’s essential to conduct thorough research. Solar power might seem like an excellent idea on the surface, but it’s vital to ensure that it’s the right choice for your specific circumstances. Contact your local roofing company, like Wagner Roofing, for a more accurate and professional assessment of your home’s solar potential. They can guide you through the nuances of installation and help determine the most viable solar solution for your needs.