According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average Michigan household pays $106 for electricity each month.

Add in the monthly costs of some of the extras that make life a little better—from electric cars to air conditioning—and it’s easy for a monthly energy bill to burn a $300 hole in your pocket.

What if you didn’t have to pay anything for electricity at all? 

If you get solar panels, that fantasy could become a reality.

With high-efficiency solar panels, Michigan households are discovering they can afford electric extras.

A full tank of gas will cost you anywhere from $74 to $115 today, according to AAA. A secondhand electric car could pay for itself in under a year! That is, if you can keep your electric bills low. 

In Michigan, you can, with solar panels. Between tax breaks, rebates, and incentives, and Michigan’s unique geography, Michigan residents have quite a few advantages in the solar panel marketplace. 

Read on to discover how to make these advantages work for you.

Solar Panels and Power: The Michigan Advantage

Two technologies convert energy from the sun into electricity we can use. Concentrating solar-thermal power systems use mirrors and lenses to concentrate the sun’s heat, then convert it to electricity or store it in a battery.

These systems are too large for most private homes. Instead, most homes use photovoltaic (PV) panels. In layman’s terms, these are solar panels.

How PV Solar Works

PV technology uses a “sandwich” that layers positively charged and negatively charged materials.

The sandwich contains electrons in the center layer. When the sun’s light and heat (both containing photons) hit the PV panel, the photons bump the contained electrons into an electric field, jumpstarting a directional electric current. 

The directional current is electricity the system can immediately use. Some users purchase additional, rechargeable battery packs, which can store the electrical energy for one to five days. 

Unfortunately, most of the photons that hit the solar panel are not directly converted into useable energy.

More Sunshine, More Power

In May 2022, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory created a solar panel with 39.5% efficiency. That means the panel successfully converts 39.5% of the sun’s energy that hits the panel into a useable form. 

The NREL invention is the most efficient three-junction PV system to date. More efficient panels typically use more complex, more expensive designs.

Most PV panels on the market rarely reach 25% efficiency. 15%-18% efficiency is more common. Since the ratio of sunlight-to-electricity is small, it’s critical to place a panel in a way that maximizes its exposure to sunlight. 

The Michigan Advantage

This brings Michigan’s greatest advantage into play. By some estimates, Michigan gets about 2,392 hours of sunlight per year. This offers ample direct sunlight to maximize the electricity-generating potential of solar panels. 

In Michigan, even a relatively inefficient solar panel can generate enough electricity to power an electric car, or even a small home, in its entirety.

Discounts, Rebates, Tax Breaks, and Grants

Are you interested in solar panels, but unsure how to pay for them? Explore the DSIRE Database. It’s the best source for Michigan solar incentives. 

This database catalogs all rebates, tax breaks, and incentives available to Michigan households that want to invest in alternative energy.

When choosing a solar panel system, balance the importance of low up-front costs with the benefit of a greater degree of efficiency.

As you research professional solar panel installations, talk to a specialist about which option is right for your home and budget.  

Michigan Solar Solutions and More

Learning about how solar panels work, and discovering whether they’re a good choice for your home in Michigan, is a critical step toward a more energy-efficient future.

Ready to take more steps forward? Check out our content library. Discover insights, tips, and tricks to make your life the one you want to live.