Summertime is here and the AC is on, but now is the electricity bill you dread to see. As your wallet dries out like the Sahara Desert, you decide enough is enough. You’re jumping on the solar bandwagon. Before you start searching on Google for the closest solar panel installer, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Here’s your guide to everything you should know before solar panel installation.
Solar Panel Home Installation
To start, you should first understand what it means to install solar panels in your home. These panels convert sunlight into electricity that you can use to power the lights and appliances in your home. While you may have an interest in moving forward in installing solar in your home. There are several things to keep in mind that will determine whether solar is the right choice for you.
Know Your Home
Solar panels require a certain amount of sunlight. A specific intensity in order to convert solar energy into electricity. There are factors that influence this including the layout of your home. The material of your roof. The exact location of your home, and your individual electric needs.
The layout of your home may limit the amount of space that you have available that is suitable for installing solar panels in your home. It may be that you simply don’t have the surface area. It could also be that other parts of the home create shade on the available roofing. Which limits the amount of electricity that you can generate. It’s also important to take into consideration the tilt of your roof. The angle in which we install the panel will directly impact the panel’s efficiency in generating electricity.
Roof Material and Condition
Before installing solar panels in your home it is essential to make sure your roof is in top condition. This is important so that the roof is structurally sound to support the weight of the panels. It’s also important to note that it is expensive to remove and reinstall panels. Nowadays, most solar panels offer a warranty period of 20-25 years but may last more than 30! Therefore, making sure you won’t have to replace your roof anytime soon is key.
You should also note that depending on the material your roof is made from will determine the complexity of installation. Installers may charge more for installing solar panels on flat roofs, concrete roof, or ceramic Spanish tile roofs.
Where your home is actually located will impact the benefit that you will derive from installing solar panels in your home. The more sunny days you have, the more opportunity you have to generate electricity. In other words, if you live in the Southern US you’ll have more benefit from installing solar panels. As opposed to someone living in the North. The direction your home is facing and its relationship to the equator will also influence where panels can be installed. This will also effect their ability to efficiently generate electricity.
When starting to look at home solar panel systems, you need to know how much energy you consume. You also need to reduce the amount of energy you need to purchase from the grid. The easiest way to determine your energy needs is to take a closer look at your past electricity bills. Each bill should show your usage. You bills will show you when your energy consumption goes up.
After you have determined what you are already using, think long term. Are you planning on making any purchases that may cause a fluctuation in your energy consumption? For instance, if you have plans to one day buy an electric vehicle your energy consumption will be higher. Your plan may continue to upgrade your home to improve its energy efficiency. You may also want to aim for less consumption.
Either way, it’s important to take your time and get this right as it can be complicated and expensive to add additional panels into an existing system.
Connecting to the Grid
Some homes are able to completely satisfy their electric needs with no need to connect to the grid. However, other homes may still require the grid to meet their needs. While we all know about buying electricity from the grid, installing solar panels in your home gives you the opportunity to sell electricity to the grid.
Many states require energy companies to provide energy from renewable resources. In such states, energy providers can purchase power from your system per 1,000 kWh via SRECs (solar renewable energy credits). Your state may also offer net metering, which is when the state will purchase any excess electricity you generate.
Both of these options give you the opportunity to earn some extra cash. However, you should contact your local energy provider to determine which programs they participate in (if any) and to determine the cost of connecting to the grid and any fees associated with selling electricity to them.
Costs of Installing Solar Panels at Home
While installing solar panels in your home can be pricey, the initial cost has come down significantly due to government incentives, tax credits and improvements in technology. Early adopters of home solar panels paid a hefty price in an effort to save on their energy bills. However, while it is a bit more pocket-friendly, it is still an expense to carefully consider when you’ve got a budget to keep in mind.
The cost of solar panels is determined on a per watt basis. Today’s market boasts several different brands and wattages, typically ranging between $2.67 and $3.43 per watt. The actual size of the system you are looking to install (and currently available tax credits) will be the determining factor in how much you’ll have to shell out.
The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) will typically reduce your costs by 30 percent, at least until the end of 2019. The average size of a home solar energy system is 6kW. Taking into account the tax credit, such a system will set you back about $12,800. You’ll also want to check to see if your state also offers an incentive program for solar panel installation, giving you additional savings.
Additional Equipment is Required
Everyone is aware of the actual solar panel that goes on your roof, but do you fully understand the peripheral equipment required to actually harvest the energy from the sun? In addition to the solar panels, you will need an inverter (a string inverter or micro inverter) as well as racking or mounting (the system that actually connects the panels to your roof). We require these components for every system.
Beyond this, there is the decision of purchasing solar batteries to store excess energy produced, as well as other odds and ends to fully meet your needs. Some installers will only work with certain brands when it comes to the required extra equipment, so it’s important to shop around for bids to get the best rate.
Get Up to Date on Local Regulations
There are several legal factors to take into consideration before moving forward to install home solar panels. Firstly, you need to think about what type of home you are in. If you are in a rented or leased space, you need to verify that you are in fact able to install solar panels on the property (something you would find in the fine print of your contract). If your home is in an HOA, be sure to check your bylaws (dis)allowing such installation.
Once you determine that you can, in fact, install home solar panels, you’ll need to check on what permits are required. Installing without permits may result in hefty fines or may stop work altogether. Your installer will help you determine which permits you need for your specific location.
So Is Installing Solar Panels in Your Home for You?
Ultimately, the decision to go forward with home installation is dependent on your needs and the ability to meet these needs using solar panels. Your long term plans and your estimated payback period will play a major role in determining your needs and the benefits home solar panels can give you. Typically, residents in areas with high electric rates see the most benefit.
Figuring out how to afford them is the next step if you decide that solar panels are the thing for you. If you have thousands sitting in the bank waiting to be spent, then paying up front may be a viable option. On the other hand, if that kind of cash isn’t a luxury you have, there are options for financing and leasing of panels available.
Banks and Lenders
Numerous banks and lenders offer solar energy loans or solar loans. Meanwhile, local installers may have leasing programs already in place that you may want to look into. One of the downfalls with leasing panels is that you will pay monthly for the panels and either have to return them or pay for them in full at the end of the lease. As with all leases and loans, the terms will vary depending upon your financial situation and options being provided.
You’ll also want to make sure you get several different bids. Getting bids from local installers will help ensure that you are able to get the best price possible for the system that will best suit your present and future needs. It is essential that you make sure your installer is properly licensed or certified and that they are familiar with the required local permits and processes for connecting to the grid. This will help ensure your installation goes as smoothly as possible.
Keep all of this in mind when considering home installation of solar panels and before you know it you’ll have more than one reason to enjoy the sun’s rays on a hot summer day.