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Quick Facts About Solar Energy

solar panels
A group of solar panels make up a solar array like this one mounted on a flat roof.

There are two types of solar energy, solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar heat.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV)

Solar PV is solar electricity, like a solar powered calculator. Like wind, one challenge is estimating how much electricity will it produce per month or per year.

Example: 1000 watts of solar panels will provide ~ 110 kwh of electricity per month (1000/110=0.091) Watts * 0.091 * 12 months = kwh per year
A 1000 watt panel
1000 * 0.091 * 12 = 1092 kwh per year

1092 * $0.08 = $87
Alternate production method: Sun hrs * panel rating * system efficiency = kwh.

System efficiency takes in all components. Grid tie will be from 95%-70% based mostly on panel temperature. Lower panel temp higher efficiency. Battery systems may be as low as 60%.

Solar Panel Kit Prices includes mounting materials and inverter for connection with electrical grid.

  • 2280w = $16,480
  • 6840w = $46,430
  • 11,400w = $77,680

Very little maintenance with a solar system. Need a south facing roof or open area. One example around Lincoln Hyde Observatory 2.2kw PV,

Solar Heat

Solar heat can be in the design of the home maximizing south facing exposure to gain heat in winter. A good house design also avoids solar gain with roof overhangs to shade windows. Quality windows and window glazing can prevent solar heat in summer.

Solar Hot Water

Other than home heating hot water may be your greatest energy use in a home. And you use it all year round. Solar hot water uses the suns heat to preheat water which goes into your hot water heater. This process saves a great deal of energy. It can be set up to just run in the warmer months or to be used all year round.


By John Hay, UNL Extension Educator