How Home Solar Works

Solar Technology and Products

Solar Technology

Tried and Tested Technology

When it comes to investing in solar power, there has never been a better time to buy. The rule of thumb when buying any new technology is “wait until they get the bugs out.” For residential solar panels, that wait is over. Astrum Solar uses crystalline silicon technology, the dominant, most reliable, proven solar technology available. Fifty years of continuous innovation since the technology was first developed has resulted in panels that last more than 30 years at incredibly high efficiency levels.

The next generation of solar panels is just starting to be developed, and it’s unclear how reliable those first commercial versions will be. We are unlikely to see any truly new technologies come on the market for at least 10 years as the technologies are developed commercially and scaled for production. While there have been few advances in residential solar panel technology in recent years, there has been one major advance in inverter technology – microinverters. Astrum Solar was the first installer in the region to use Enphase microinverters, which are now becoming the standard in the industry.

Panel Prices Already Dropped Dramatically

The first highly expensive crystalline silicon solar panels were developed in the 1950's and 1960's. The cost to install solar panels decreased more than 100-fold during the 1960's - 1980's as a result of intensive efforts to streamline manufacturing and installation processes. As the technology has become more mature, the price decreases have slowed down.

Source: Navigant Consulting

Availability of Incentives Now Drive Solar Costs

Available government incentives, not technology changes, will determine the cost of solar in the next 10 years. Both the government and utility companies are now offering generous financial incentives that reduce the cost of going solar by up to 70% whether you choose to own or lease solar your solar power. Government incentives increased in the last few years, which created a boom in solar as homeowners rushed to take advantage of the high value rebates. However, the peak in incentives occurred in 2008 and since then most states have reduced their solar grant amounts because of limited funds, many local incentives have a waitlist and the utility incentive is also designed to be phased out as time goes on. Those who wait to go solar will indeed see some price decreases in solar panels, but they will likely pay more overall for their system as incentives are scaled back. (Astrum Solar makes going solar easy! We make sure you get the most out of your solar panels by helping you secure all possible incentives so you get the most return on your investment.)

Electricity Prices Rising Rapidly

Energy prices are increasing as resources become scarcer and environmental costs become more apparent. Once we install your solar panels, you no longer have to worry about rising electricity prices for the portion of your electricity that comes from solar. You have effectively locked in your rates for the next 25 years. As prices rise, you receive a bigger and bigger benefit from your smart early investment.

Crystalline Silicon

The vast majority, nearly 90%, of solar panels sold today are crystalline silicon panels. To make these panels, raw silicon (sand) is melted at very high temperatures and impurities in the silicon are removed. In their place, new specific impurities (called dopants) that allow the movement of electrons within the silicon are introduced. The special semiconductor properties of silicon, combined with these specific impurities, allow electricity to be generated when light hits the silicon. The melted silicon is cooled and forms crystals as it solidifies into an ingot of pure silicon. The ingot is then sliced into thin wafers which will sit out in the sun and generate electricity. The thin wafers are soldered together to a metal backing, covered with incredibly durable glass that resists hail strikes, and mounted in the roof of a building.

U.S. Electricity Prices

U.S. electricity rates have historically increased 9% a year over the last decade, and are forecast to continue rising for the foreseeable future. We factor this into the payback calculations in our Solar Calculator and show you how much you can save with solar panels, by freeing yourself from rising electricity prices and effectively locking in your own electricity rates for 25 years!