Solar Payback

Environmental Benefits

Renewable Energy is Great for the Planet

Converting to solar energy is the biggest personal change you can make to fight global warming. Utility companies supply over 70% of electricity in the U.S. by burning fossil fuels—the leading cause of climate change. Generating electric power causes over a third of all green house gas emissions in the United States (source: Environmental Protection Agency). Reducing the electricity we draw from the grid means reducing carbon emissions. That means cleaner air, water and soil for your family, community, and generations to come.

A Measurable Difference

Exactly how much impact can your solar panels have on the environment? Consider that solar panels have a life of at least 30 years (many from the 1950’s are still in operation, actually), so once you install your solar panels, the environmental benefits last for decades.

Here are some ways to think about the environmental impact that an average (5 kW system) solar home can have on the planet over the life of the panels:

For more information on the environmental impact of reduced carbon emissions, visit

What Does It Mean to Have a 5 kW System?

A typical installation is 5 kW (5,000 watts). When the sun shines on those solar panels for one hour (in non-cloudy conditions), they produce 5,000 watt-hours, or 5 kWh of electricity. On a cloudy or short winter day, the panels might produce 15-17 kWh during the day. On a perfect, clear sunny day, they might produce 30kWh of electricity during the day.

A regular light bulb uses 60 watt-hours of electricity in one hour. A fluorescent light bulb uses 15 watt-hours in one hour. A large plasma screen TV uses about 150 watt-hours in one hour.

So on a great sunny day, your panels would produce enough electricity to power your large plasma TV for 200 hours or one regular light bulb for 500 hours or a fluorescent bulb for 2,000 hours.