Solar power has been around for decades, yet, we still don’t use it as often as we could.

Have you driven around a sunny place like Florida? How many solar panels do you see on homes? Not as many as there could be!

Of course, installing solar panels on your home can be initially expensive. But, if you want to go solar, spending lots of money on expensive solar panels isn’t the only way.

4 Affordable Methods to Generate Solar Power Energy

If you want solar power for home use, try these options:

1. Get a Government Tax Credit for Installing Solar Panels

If you do want to install professional solar panels on your home, you may be eligible for tax credits. The United States government offers a federal solar tax credit, more officially known as the investment tax credit (ITC). For 2016 to 2019, you can receive a 30 percent tax credit for the cost of your solar panel system.

Much has been made in the news about the 2017 Republican tax bill harming the ability of people to benefit from this solar tax credit. However, the provision in question involves the use of multinational corporations in solar panel projects, which should not affect a residential installation.

Do note, however, that if you wish to take advantage of the 30 percent investment tax credit, do so as soon as possible. The credit will be gradually reduced past 2019. By 2022, it will become a permanent 10 percent tax credit that will apply to utility and commercial projects, but not residential installations.

However, your state may offer its own solar tax credit program, so be sure to check.

2. Get a Portable Solar Power Generator

You don’t need a permanent solar panel array on the top of your home to benefit from solar power. With a portable solar power generator, you can get some extra help from the sun with your electricity needs.

Solar power generators are primarily designed for emergency use. They can be a great backup if your power goes out due to a thunderstorm. You can also use them while camping.

However, there is no rule that says you can’t use a portable solar power generator for everyday use. Maybe you could use it to power up your television and save a little on your electric bill.

3. Try a Solar Powered Phone Charger

Using solar power to charge your phone sounds like a no brainer, right? Well, unfortunately, many solar powered phone chargers have been expensive and not necessarily that effective.

The good news is, the technology is improving, and you can find many more options for solar powered charging. One of the first to get really glowing reviews is the Solartab, which retails for $129 and is advertised as a “premium” product. The Solartab can fully charge up a dead iPhone in two hours and an iPad in four hours.

You can also try the many less expensive solar powered chargers available. Just make sure you read other customer reviews first, so you can get the best bang for your buck.

4. Build Your Own Solar Panel or Generator

If you love tinkering with electronics, you can create your own solar panels and generators for a very low cost. Many critics of solar power cite the problems with “return on investment.” In other words, often, when you purchase a solar generation system, you won’t be able to earn that money back through the electricity generated.

However, if you build your own and do it yourself, you just might be able to recoup those costs – perhaps quickly.

“And for the critic, yes, you’re right this is not free electricity as I had to pay for the parts,” writes one DIY solar panel creator. “But when I reached the breakeven point the costs are paid back and then the system will give me free energy by harvesting the sun.”

You can find many different free tutorials for building your own solar panels online.

You can also find detailed instructions on creating your own solar power generator. One site estimates you can build one for less than $300.

Solar Power is the Future

While the world is using fossil fuels for far longer than many renewable energy advocates have expected, solar power is still the future. As long as the sun shines in the sky, solar power will continue to be an attractive and ecological source of energy. It’s also one of the main sources of renewable energy that is accessible to residential homes. Wind power requires large turbines. Hydropower requires a lot of water. And while even volcanos might be the energy source of the future, it’s still not for homes. Solar power is where it’s at.

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