Are you thinking of going solar?
With over 3 million installations across the US, solar energy is gaining momentum. And with the benefits it can bring with renewable energy and lower utility bills, it’s easy to see why. But not every house is suitable for solar installation. You might be wondering if it’s even possible for your home.
That’s where we come in! Keep reading for our guide on going solar and whether it’s suitable for your home.
What Are the Benefits of Going Solar?
You might be wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to solar panels. Your neighbors seem to all have them, and more are popping up over your neighborhood. But is going solar worth it? Let’s take a look at some benefits it can bring.
1. Reduced or Eliminated Electricity Bills
This is one of the most desirable benefits for homeowners. Solar panels allow you to generate your own electricity. As such, you’ll be less reliant on your utility supplier and should see a decrease in your electric bill.
As most solar systems last between 25-35 years, that’s decades’ worth of savings. Energy Sage’s instant estimate calculator lets you get an idea of what sort of savings to expect. As well as projections for the likely upfront cost.
2. Boosted Home Value
Millions of Americans like the idea of solar, but haven’t actually looked into it much. Studies show that homes with solar installed can sell up to 20% faster, for up to 17% more than homes without them.
Even if you’re unsure if you’ll stay in your home forever, solar could be the right choice. When you sell, you could recoup your investment or even make a little profit on it.
3. Lowered Carbon Emissions
Solar energy is a renewable, clean energy source. It’s a top prospect for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and reducing human impact on the planet. Unlike fossil fuels (oil, coal, etc.) that lead to direct pollution.
With solar, no harmful pollutants (like CO2) hit the water chain or atmosphere. Even compared to nuclear, solar power comes out the clear winner for being better for the planet.
4. Control Over Ever-Increasing Energy Prices
For many of us, there is anxiety over our utility bills. Each year they seem to keep rising, and there’s little you can do to control or stop that.
Electricity has gone up by around 17.5% compared to a 70% decrease in the cost for solar in the last 10 years. This rise in electricity costs isn’t expected to slow or reverse either.
Going solar puts you in control of your energy generation. It reduces your reliance on utility companies, meaning you need to buy less from them.
5. Generate Money While Your Panels Pay Off Your Investment
There are many solar incentives across most states in the U.S which can bring in a profit. Some key incentives are net metering and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).
Both allow you to exchange excess energy you generate for bill credits (or cash in some cases). If both apply to your state, you’re looking and short and long-term returns from your solar panels!
Should I Go Solar?
While the benefits above sound great on paper, you’ll only get them if your home is the right fit for solar energy. Here we’ll take a look at what you need to consider to see if solar panels are the right choice for you.
How Much Does Your Energy Bill Cost?
The first thing to consider when evaluating solar is how much your electricity bill is. What you’re checking here is whether solar power will save you money or not.
The general rule is it makes sense to go solar if you’re electric bill is at least $75/per month or more. This is the considered threshold for when homeowners will see a return of investment.
What is Your Roof Like?
You’ll get the best results with durable, strong roofing material. Concrete tile, standing seam, or asphalt shingle are the best choices. They offer the most strength, support, and stability for the mounting brackets that the panels need.
You can go solar with other roof types like slate tile, wood shake, or clay and mortar. You’ll need an installer with experience working on those types of roof material. Otherwise, it could cause damage, and your roof might not support the system.
Are You Due a Roof Replacement?
If your roof is getting to the end of its lifespan, it’s a better idea to replace it before you install solar. With a lifespan of 25-35+ years, you don’t want to have to take them off if you don’t have to.
You should install solar panels on roofs that are in good condition. They should be in a state where you won’t need to replace them anytime soon.
It’s well worth taking the leap and getting the roof replaced if you need to. High-efficiency panels could pay for the roof replacement in 5 years in savings.
How Much Sunlight Do You Get On the Roof?
A great resource for seeing if your home is suitable for solar is Google’s Project Sunroof. It uses Google Earth imagery to create a personalized solar savings analysis. The images let Google calculate how much sun your roof likely gets.
You can then set up an appointment with your chosen installer to come and do an inspection. They will assess:
- The orientation (south-facing panels generate the most energy)
- Roof angle
- Shading from nearby trees or buildings
All this will determine whether solar energy can meet the needs of your home and family. Most consultations are free, but it’s best to check with the solar company beforehand.
The more direct sunlight your roof gets the more energy your panels can generate. There are efficient panels for times of low light, but too much shade will have an impact.
What is Your Local Climate?
With advancements in technology, solar panels can generate in all extreme climates. From the deserts of Nevada to good old rainy Seattle. But, the weather will have an impact on the level of energy you create, and the type of panel you need.
High-efficiency panels will convert indirect as well as direct sunlight into energy. Even on cloudy days, they can still work and produce power. If your area has long periods of cloudy or bad weather, it’s best to consult professionals.
For areas prone to storms and hurricanes, you also want to check the panels’ durability rating. You want to make sure they’ll stand up against the harshest of weather that your area can throw at it. But bear in mind, nothing is perfect.
How to Go Solar
If you’ve decided that solar panels are the right fit for your home, then here’s how to go solar in 5 easy steps.
1. Do Your Homework
As with any large investment you need to do your homework first. Before you start looking for installers, take a look into the following topics.
The Costs and Benefits of Solar
We’ve covered some of the most popular general benefits of solar but there is more to explore. And you’ll need to explore them for your individual property.
How much can you spend on solar panels? How much are they likely to save you over their lifespan? These are questions you need to answer.
What Tech Will Go on Your Roof
Solar panels and inverters are likely new for you and other solar shoppers. Because they last so long and do need a little maintenance, it’s best to get a feel for the equipment. Find out what you’re expected to do and how it works.
Whether It Fits Your Home
Again, we’ve given you some ways to determine if solar works for you, but it’s going to be different for every home. There’s no one-size option that fits everyone. It’s important to research your energy options and make sure it’s the right choice.
2. Compare Quotes and Shop Around
Make sure you’re shopping around for the best quality and the best prices. Take advantage of the competition and get at least 3 personalized quotes.
If you don’t want to spend hours trawling the internet there are comparison sites you can use. Energy Sage, at no cost, will put you in touch with up to 7 local installers, for example.
3. Pick the Right Installer, Financing & System
There can be a lot of overwhelming information in a solar quote, it can make your head spin! Here’s what to look out for so you can make an assessment and pick the right option for you.
You’ll likely see the costs presented in a few different ways like cost per watt ($/W), monthly and then upfront cost. To compare costs you want to look at the $/W costs they give you.
This is a standardized unit that you can compare across companies. In the U.S, the national average cost for solar energy is around or below $3/W so bear that in mind.
What Equipment You Get
With solar equipment, there are many options available. The primary equipment you need installing is the solar panels themselves and inverters.
Inverters convert the DC input energy into AC so you can use it in your home. The equipment available varies in cost, efficiency, power, aesthetics, and warranty. This is where it pays off to do some research.
Choosing the Right Installer
To get the most out of your solar installation you need a reputable, qualified installer. Make sure they have the certifications, licenses, and training needed.
Also, check out online reviews or ask for references to see what others thought about them. Most will have a gallery on their website where you can view their work too. You also want to make sure they have the right insurance too, so you’re not left paying the bill if there is an accident.
Get the Right Financing Option
You can finance solar in a few ways: with a loan, paying upfront, or using a rental agreement. Usually, a rental comes in the form of a lease or a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement).
Each has its pros and its cons, and it will depend on your budget which one works the best. If you are going to pay monthly, compare what you’ll pay to what you would upfront.
With leases, make sure you know how long the contract is for. You also want to check who has the maintenance responsibilities and who will pay for any of that.
When you’ve narrowed the choices down, you need to make a choice. It’s a good idea to meet with you on-site (for a no-cost visit) before you make your choice.
You can meet them and get a feel for how they work and if you’re comfortable with them. They can also get an idea of your home, take measurements and finish off the design, and quote for your system. It’s a good time to ask them what to expect from the solar installation.
Once you decide on an installer and hire them, they will handle all the permits that you need. Once they have the local and state permits, they will give you an installation date.
You need to provide access to your roof and your electrical panel so they can hook you up. In most cases, the whole install only takes a day to complete, so no major disruption to your life.
5. Power Up and Get Saving!
Before you can use your solar panels, a local government inspector must sign off on it. A lot of utility companies will need to do an inspection too to confirm it’s safe to use.
Once this final hurdle is over, you will receive a PTO (Permission to Operate). This means you’re good to go and can flip on that power switch. Your home is all set up, and you’re ready to start making those savings.
Going Solar: Make the Smart Choice
So, there you have it! Now you’ve read our guide on going solar, you’ll know how to check if it’s right for your home.
Solar energy provides many benefits to a lot of homeowners. But installing them is a huge investment, and it’s not a decision to rush. By making sure that solar energy is right for you, you’ll get the best results and reap more of those benefits.
If you’re looking to install a solar energy system, get your quote from us today. At West Bay Energy, we’ve got the expertise and skill to get you the best results out of your installation.