by Contributor

(Apr. 14, 2022) — You probably have questions or don’t know what to ask if you’re considering going solar. There’s also more to the process than slapping panels on the roof, and you need to ensure you’re going about it correctly. So before hiring the first company that catches your attention, keep the following things in mind. They’ll help you figure out your next steps and find a reliable installer. 

Benefits of Solar Power

Solar power has been developing rapidly over the past couple of decades to combat the ongoing climate crisis. As more people switch, the positive environmental impact increases, slowly making the world a better place. However, solar panels don’t just benefit the planet. They offer significant benefits to the user, including:

  • Reduces your carbon footprint
  • Lowers your utility costs
  • Tax incentives 
  • Less dependence on the electric power grid
  • Increased property value

Home Energy Audit

A home energy audit, also known as an energy assessment, helps determine your home’s energy usage and efficiency. You’ll use the results to make changes within your home to become more energy-efficient, saving money on solar installation and electricity usage. You can have a professional audit your home or do it yourself with this checklist. A professional will be able to give you more accurate results, but you can still make a significant impact on your own.

Your Roof

Before installing solar panels, a professional will need to inspect your roof to ensure that it can structurally handle it. Additionally, consider when you will need to replace your roof next. The average lifespan can be anywhere from 25-200 years, depending on the material. But if you don’t know the last time your roof was replaced, you can check city records or ask the previous owner.

It will be expensive to remove your solar panels and reinstall them when replacing a roof. So you should consider replacing it before installation if it hasn’t been done in the past few years. This way, your roof and solar panels age and wear simultaneously. 

Solar Potential

Solar potential is a calculation that determines how much solar energy your home can produce and how many solar panels you need. It is based on your roof’s location, shade, tilt, and size. The installer may be able to give you a rough estimate using online tools. Still, eventually, they’ll need to come out and calculate more exact measurements themselves before they can install the panels.

Financing

Solar panel installation can be costly, but it’s worth the electricity savings in the long run. There are different ways to acquire funding, making it more accessible to lower-income households. For example, there are tax incentives and possible funding opportunities from the government. However, if you don’t think you can afford the initial installation bill or don’t get approved for funding, most companies offer financing programs so you can pay it off over time. 

How to Save on Solar

Since solar installation can be expensive, there are ways to cut costs. First, make your home more energy-efficient after conducting an energy audit. Over the following months, you might notice that your electric bill decreases, which may, in turn, reduce the number of solar panels needed for your roof. 

If your budget is tight, you may be considering starting with a few panels and getting more down the line. However, this means you’ll pay installation fees again later. Plus, your solar panels will wear at different rates. So you’d probably save more money by getting them all installed at the same time.

How Solar Works

Most commercial and residential solar energy is typically powered through photovoltaics. The process is relatively simple. First, the sunlight hits the solar panels, which absorb the photons, transforming them into electricity. Then, your home has power! You can store much of this power in batteries, so you have enough to last you through the night and on cloudy days. 

Choosing an Installer

When searching for someone to install your solar panels, it’s critical to conduct a deep “investigation” on the prospects. You don’t want to hire an unreliable company that dissolves in a few years due to low quality. So, be sure that you ask these questions when interviewing potential installers:

  • What is the warranty on the solar panels?
  • What manufacturer do you use? Do your research to determine which manufacturer has the best performance and quality.
  • Do you have references I can contact or verified customer reviews?

Conclusion

Switching to solar offers many benefits to the homeowner, from reducing your carbon footprint to saving you money on energy usage and taxes. But there are several other things you should consider before installing panels—for instance, your energy usage, your roof’s age, financing, and solar potential. However, once you find a reputable installer, they should be able to assist with all of these things and give you the best path forward.

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  1. “Less dependence on the electric power grid”
    Maybe I am just lucky, but my electric power grid is very reliable and it works when the sun don’t shine.
    Are you sure solar is worth the cost in the long run? The nuclear plant I retired from 20 years ago is still providing reliable power for about 2/3 of my state, and I can see the cooling tower from my house. I find that reassuring………..

  2. Author does not spend any effort explaining the installation complexity and the costs of the following:
    1. Batteries.
    2. DC-to-AC inverter.
    3. Wiring interconnect among solar panels, batteries, inverter, and existing electrical power meter.

    Question: If I live in Seattle, WA, should I consider a solar panel backup power system?

  3. Contributor:

    Let me know when going solar in my home means I will still have at least the same amount of electricity 24/7/365, rain/shine/snow/wind, as I do now after I call the electric company and have them disconnect my home.