“Sunny with a high of 93 degrees,” “sunny with a high of 100 degrees,” “sun, sun, and more sun” — it seems like every day is a sunny day in Las Vegas. Climate conditions here certainly couldn’t feel more ideal for a solar revolution. But does a solar-centric energy lifestyle really make dollars and sense for the average Valley resident?

Easy Does It

Converting to a solar-centric energy lifestyle does not require a complete overhaul. Las Vegas solar choices can be made one item at a time. Just making the switch to a solar water heater can do wonders for your home energy costs all by itself. On average, a solar hot water system can use up to 50–80 percent less energy than your traditional model. That factors out approximately to a 10–15 percent reduction in annual energy costs. The savings add up even further if you apply and qualify for the federal tax credit to compensate for up to 30 percent of the cost to buy and install a residential solar water heating system.

Another modest but meaningful solar power choice is a solar pool cover. The benefits of a fully solar-powered pool heating system shouldn’t be discounted of course, but if you already have a pool with a conventional system, making the investment in a solar cover can significantly reduce the overall amount of time needed to run your pool heater. Since time is money, you can save quite a bit this way.

Solar Panels or Bust

Do you still want a Las Vegas solar-powered home? The piecemeal approach is practicable with new modular technology from GreenRay. Traditional solar panels were tied into an inverter, a device that converts direct current from the panels into the alternating current of the household. The concept relied on a rooftop array of panels strung together in order to produce the voltage required to run the inverter. GreenRay has scaled down the concept, incorporating the DC-to-AC function into the individual panels, thus paving the way for a panel-by-panel installation approach suited to a strict budget. Whereas the old school, full-size grid array of 15–20 panels normally costs from $25,000–$40,000, the new individual AC panels can be installed a few at a time so that you can start to enjoy some benefits of Las Vegas solar power now and even more later as you add panels at your own pace.

The sunny skies around the Valley, the rising costs of just about everything, the social imperative to “go green” — all the signs point to more solar power, not less, in the future of Las Vegas residents.