Residential Solar - Active Systems

The recent price declines for renewable energy systems, especially solar electric (Photovoltaic) systems, has made them economically viable for a variety residential projects, from single-family homes to multi-family and mixed-used developments. There are also some additional perks available to those in the know besides the free energy source otherwise known as the sun. These perks range from federal tax credits/tax deductions for certain installations down to local or regional programs from governments, non-profits or energy utilities that offer rebates or low-interest loans for their installation. There are also green and white credits available in certain circumstances that provide a monetary benefit to the owner(s) of the renewable energy systems through the avoidance of pollution afforded by the clean energy system.

The basic concept behind the utilization of solar energy is simple: Conversion of solar radiation (sunlight) into another usable energy form such as heat for hot water or space conditioning or for electricity production by moving the electrons that are excited (activated) by sunlight through a power system that manages either Alternating Current (AC), Direct Current (DC) or both. However, as with nearly everything else in life, what appears to be simple at the outset can prove to be complicated in reality. Fortunately, there are a growing number of references available to help explain and clarify how to design and install a renewable energy system properly.

CAUTION: Many people are being convinced about leasing a solar electric system for their home without understanding the full consequences of their actions. Green credits for sustainable, renewable energy systems and white credits for energy efficient systems go directly to the owner of the system. So, if you lease a renewable energy system then you probably gave up your rights to receive the compensation derived from the installation of your system.

In many cases, both green and white credits are generated yearly by a renewable energy system installation and so you may be giving up $200 per year for the 30 year life of your system, which means you've lost $6,000 in potential revenue. Plus, as owner of the renewable energy system you may be eligible for an accelerated depreciation schedule as well. So, before you sign that lease for a $0 down renewable energy system you should look into getting a low-interest loan instead. Your green/white credits combined with your tax benefits may prove much better for you than the lease option.

If you are seeking ideas for renewable energy installations and also want real-life testimonials by people who actually live with the newly installed systems then you should review the "Solar Living Sourcebook" by Real Goods. (See Amazon inset box) Even though the Sourcebooks are only produced periodically they are jammed full of relevant testimonials and user factoids about different kinds of renewable energy systems and these system owners offer insight as to how they envisioned their installations and how happy (or unhappy) they are with the results.