When soil conditions aren’t suited for geothermal energy, home solar energy may be the right choice for your home. Knowing about solar panels, how they work and why geothermal may not be effective for your home can help you make the decision.
When geothermal won’t work
Rocky soil, which is prominent in North Carolina, may make geothermal energy equipment difficult and pricey to install under your home. That soil also can make energy transfer inefficient once equipment is running, making solar panel benefits attractive.
Solar panel types
Three common types of solar cells make up the solar panels that can provide energy to your home.
- Monocrystalline cells: Made from a thin slice cut from a single silicon crystal. These cells have the highest efficiency rating, but take the most amount of energy to manufacture.
- Polycrystalline cells: Made from thin wafers of silicon. These cells are cut from many crystals put together rather than one large crystal. While less efficient than monocrystalline, they can be fitted into a rectangular solar panel frame efficiently.
- Thin film cells: Made by depositing thin films of silicon onto another material. Efficiency is lower than crystalline cells, but thin film doesn’t need intercell connections and can be crafted onto a flexible surface.
How solar panels work
Solar panels convert sunlight into home solar energy. North Carolina is well suited for this type of energy due to the regular sunny weather in the area. Home southern exposure is best. When sunlight hits the cell, some of the light is absorbed into the semiconductive material of the cells. The energy frees electrons, allowing them to flow freely and be directed as a current of electricity.
Solar panel lifespan
The lifespan of solar cells is estimated around 30 years, and the cells will produce about 17 times the energy used to manufacture them, according to a 2008 study by the Oregon Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Energy.