10 Pitfalls to Consider Before Installing Solar Panels
There are many benefits to installing solar panels on your home, everything from lowering your energy bills to reducing your carbon footprint. However, choosing solar isn’t a decision you should make lightly. There is plenty to consider when looking into solar, and it’s important you weigh all options. Here are 10 things to consider before making an investment in solar.
1. What is the cost of installation?
Many people think solar power is expensive. It isn’t. If your electric bill is greater than $150 a month you can save money next month, with no money down, by buying your electricity from solar panels rather than the electric company.
2. When will you start saving?
Installing solar panels is a great way to save money, however, it’s important to understand just when you can expect to see those savings. Some options allow savings the day the system is live, where as others come with an upfront investment and provide greater returns over time. If you borrow money with a loan or qualify for a lease, you can often reduce your monthly electric bill immediately. If you decide to do a pre-paid power purchase agreement, or buy the system outright, you will have an upfront expense, but save more in the long run.
3. How much solar power can you expect to receive?
The same system on different homes will produce different results. Production depends on a number of factors; trees, angle of roof, size of roof, temperature, latitude, degradation of panels and orientation. It is important to find a solutions provider who takes all factors into account and guarantees the system’s production.
4. What type of panels should you use?
Not all solar panels are created equal. There are numerous manufacturers and a one-size-fits-all panel system may not work for every situation. An example is limited roof space. You may not be able to fit as many larger size panels on a small roof, but can use the space more effectively with smaller panel to optimize your savings. Complete Solar Solution utilizes a proprietary software HelioQuote™ to assess roof space, panel production, panel size and cost to find you the optimal panel for each situation. Make sure your solar company is evaluating multiple manufacturers to find the best possible solution for your home. It’s not uncommon for solar providers to have special “arrangements” with certain manufacturers, make sure your interests are put first.
5. Is there any financial assistance available? Are you taking advantage of all the federal, state and local rebates and incentives available?
In addition to discussing financing options with your solar solution provider, you should check into special rebates. Increasingly, you can find incentives to install solar panels at all levels of government – from local to federal – some solar subsidies can really pay off. Currently the federal government provides a tax credit, which can take up to 30% off the cost of the system. California’s state rebate program has been exhausted, however, there are many local rebate programs. To see if a local programs is available to you, click here. Your solar solutions provider will help you find the maximum rebate.
6. Who will do the installation and are they reliable?
Good help is hard to find, especially when it comes to solar panel installation. With solar panels becoming increasingly popular, there are plenty of people out there who claim to know what they’re doing. Solar panels should only be installed by a trained professional. Check online reviews at websites like consumeraffairs.com, solarreviews.com, yelp.com, or diamondcertified.org to find out if your service provider has a great reputation.
7. How long does it take after you sign the contract until your panels are producing electricity?
When people sign a contract for solar power, one of the first things they want to know is, when can they stop paying for electricity and when will they start generating it. Installation isn’t going to happen overnight, but you should have a good idea of when your system will be producing, it can add or subtract from your savings. Different providers have been known to install in as little as 5 weeks to as long as 6 months. Longer installation times could cost thousands extra you hadn’t counted on. The faster your system is installed and operating, the more you save.
8. How much sun does your house get throughout the year?
Some people believe that you must have a south facing roof to generate solar power efficiently, but east and west roof exposure can also be effective. It all depends on how your solar panels are arranged, which should be determined based on your home’s location and the amount of sun exposure it gets throughout the year. Professional solar installers will use tools like the Solmetric SunEye to measure shading patterns and quickly determine the total available solar energy by day, month, and year. As explained in number 3, your solutions provider should guarantee production.
9. What kind of roof do you have, and does the company you are considering have expertise in those roof types?
Roofs come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Unfortunately, many solar companies will only install panels on composite shingle. If your roof is made of metal, Spanish tiles, or regular wood shingles, you may have been told solar wont work on your roof. If so, the company who told you that more than likely couldn’t install on your roof type. Solar panels can be installed on virtually any roof. Installing on composite shingle is very quick where as installing on spanish tile requires different mounting systems and may take longer. Taking the time to find an installer with experience in your roof type will prove beneficial in the rainy season.
10. What kind of building permits do you require?
After signing an agreement and before the solar panel installation, you absolutely must make sure you have the proper building permits. If you don’t, you run the risk of having to redo the entire project to meet certain restrictions. For example, some cities require that you have a three-foot clearance around your roof, while others allow you to build right to the edge. Because building permits are issued at a local level, they change from city to city. In addition to the construction issues, you must also check to make sure your solar panel system is up to the proper electrical code.
With so many considerations, it’s important to find a partner you can rely on to help you make the right decision. Like buying a car, an experienced solar solutions vendor can answer all of your questions and help you at every step of the way.
To find out how Complete Solar can help you make the switch to solar by evaluating all your options, click here to schedule your personal free home solar evaluation. Or, click here to check out more of our blogs.