Solar powered houses are becoming more and more popular in Texas. The Houston area, for instance, gets between 89 -95 percent sunny days, so using solar power makes sense.

A home solar panel energy system consists of four main components: solar panels to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity; a controller panel that regulates the flow of electricity; batteries that store the energy; and an inverter that takes the energy from the battery and changes it into voltage that runs throughout your home’s electrical system.

The first step to convert your home to a solar powered system is to consult with a solar power contractor. Companies like Texas Solar Outfitters, The Woodlands Solar Energy Contractors, and Circular Energy (among many others) provide free quotes to homeowners. Once the technician arrives at your home, he or she will survey your property to determine the best location for the solar panels. Usually this is on the roof of the house, but sometimes other spots are more desirable if large trees or other structures block the direct sunlight.

If the best location is your roof, you probably will want to have a roof inspection before mounting the panels. Typically the solar power company can do this, but getting a second opinion never hurts. Since the panels are very lightweight, most roofs built after 1970 can support them just fine.

Once you have your estimate in hand, it’s time to crunch the numbers. Household units cost anywhere between $7,000 – $25,000 or more installed. Currently, the Federal government is offering a 30% solar subsidy and many electrical companies offer rebates and discounts as well. According to the EnergySage website, homeowners who get three or more quotes save an average of 10% more than those who only look at one company.

Obviously there are lots of variables here, but in general for the Houston area, homeowners can expect to save between $15,000 and $20,000 on their home electricity costs over a 20 year period. Therefore, if your system costs on the lower end, it might pay for itself in less than 10 years. This may seem like a long time, so again it is a good idea to crunch the numbers specific to your home’s estimate and your typical energy costs.

The price of solar equipment has come down dramatically over the past few years and experts anticipate this trend to continue at a rapid rate as more solar panel producers enter the market. Houston is actually one of the cheapest areas of the country to get solar equipment and as its popularity continues to rise, costs will continue to drop.