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How to Make Sure Your Home Is Ready for Solar Panels

Posted on August 15, 2016 by Jen Stinnett There have been 0 comments

As residential solar power becomes more common across the country, it may be tempting to skip the planning stage to get right to the benefits a solar array can bring: reduced energy costs, minimized carbon footprint, and increased home value. However, if you’re considering adding solar panels to your residence, there are a few things you need to do first.

Here’s a solar readiness checklist to help you make sure that you — and your home — are ready to make the upgrade to solar.

1. Know the Costs and Different Financing Options

Going solar is a positive move for sustainability and your energy budget, but those benefits may require an initial investment. The total cost of an average solar array can be $25,000–$35,000, so make sure you have some sort of financing plan before making the leap.

The three most common methods of investing in solar arrays are buying the system outright, leasing the panels, and arranging for a power purchase agreement (PPA) — a setup where a third party pays for the array and sells the generated power to the homeowner. Direct purchases will require the most investment, but they offer greater owner control. PPAs, on the other hand, require little investment, but they also provide less flexibility and customization options.

2. Check Your Savings Potential

The investment required to go solar is usually recouped in monthly energy savings within a year or two. Homeowners across the country could save between $10,000 and $60,000 over the lifetime of their array. To find out just how much your household stands to save, use a solar calculator that considers how much power you use and how much you’re likely to generate.

In addition to energy bill savings, many state and local governments offer incentives and rebates to help with the initial costs of solar installation. Net metering — wherein utility companies actually pay homeowners for any excess solar energy that gets generated and fed back into the utility grid — is one particularly profitable benefit, so find out how to leverage that if it’s available to you.

3. Make Sure Your Roof Is Ready

Because solar panels are typically installed on roofs, it’s important to verify that your roof is solar-ready. Schedule a roof inspection to ensure that there aren’t any weak spots or structural issues. If there’s a chance that the roof will need to be repaired or replaced in the next ten years, you’ll be better off doing the work before getting your array installed.

As you survey your roof, keep in mind that features like vent pipes, skylights, satellite dishes, and chimneys can cut down the solar-viable space on your roof. While many solar installation professionals know how to work around these obstructions, it may be worth removing or relocating any fixtures that interrupt your useable space, if possible.

4. Evaluate Your South-Facing Sun Exposure

To see the greatest benefits, you’ll want your panels to receive as much direct sunlight as possible during the time of day when the sun is strongest — usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. For those who live in the northern hemisphere, that means installing your solar array on a section of your roof that is facing true south or finding a system that can be tilted to give you the south-facing orientation you need.

Anything that blocks the sun from reaching your solar panels will decrease your overall array efficiency, so look out for shading from plants or nearby structures to the south. Sites like Google’s Project Sunroof can provide you with a bird’s-eye view of your roof’s solar potential, factoring in any trees or other aerial obstructions.

Once you’ve determined that both you and your home are prepared for an investment into solar, you’re ready to take the next steps: learning more about your state’s solar regulations and finding a solar company to work with. It may seem like a lot of work to get the ball rolling, but you’ll be glad you put in the time and effort when you’ve got a working solar array helping you produce clean, renewable power.

Guest Post by Jonathan Deesing

This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Green Tips and DIY, Save Energy, Your Green Home and was tagged with ENERGY EFFICIENT, solar energy, solar panels


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