Sun Got You Thinking About Solar? 10 Things to Know Before You Install
Making the Switch to Solar (the Right Way)
The sun is back! And while it may have motivated you to begin considering a spot by the pool and a cool drink while putting together your summer reading list, it should also evoke thoughts about the higher electricity bills you’re about to get into, once AC weather hits. Because of that, the sun may even have you considering making a switch to solar power to pay for said AC. Here’s a list of things you should know before you start calling solar installers out to give you a quote.
1. Can I Go Solar?
Like literally, can you put in a solar power system on your home’s roof? Some communities, usually the type that have a homeowner’s association with rules that you have to abide by, do not allow the installation of solar panels on the roofs of the homes that they rule over. Better to find out if you can first. If you have to get a ruling beforehand, then make sure you do it before you put down money on a system that you cannot install.
2. Will My Roof Support Solar Panels?
Not all roofs are made equal, and the same goes for their supporting structures. While the chances are good that your roof will support solar panels, it doesn’t hurt to make sure that you aren’t looking at additional construction costs on top of the installation costs and the cost of the system itself.
3. How Much Power Can I Hope to Generate?
Through a simple calculation, any solar installer can tell you how much power your home can generate given your latitude, general weather patterns, the angle of your roof, the direction it’s facing, and its size.
4. How Much Power Do I Need?
Understanding the way your local utility company bills you for power and how much power you are currently using are both good things to wrap your head around before you get too far down the path to solar power.
5. Will My Roof Type Jack up the Cost of Installing My Solar System?
Again, not all roofs are created equal, so installing a solar system on certain types of roofing materials (ceramic tile for instance) requires additional care and hardware. Also, given that you will incur extra charges the next time you need a new roof installed (for dealing with the solar system), you might want to evaluate how far off you are from needing one.
6. Who Are the Qualified, Certified, Bonded, Licensed Solar Installers in My Area?
Take the time to research the local installers that you may be working with. Check their records, their customer reviews, and any other information you can get your hands on. Note: this is not a replacement for getting bids; just a way to narrow the field for when it comes time to get bids.
7. What Are My Financing Options?
Do you need financing to cover the cost of the system? While solar is much more affordable than it once was, it still costs more than what most people tend to have on hand. Financing options should be available through your installer, as well as the potential to lease the system.
8. What Kinds of Rebates and Incentives Are Available in My Area?
Most U.S. states, some municipalities, and the Federal Government offer rebates and tax credits to offset the cost of a purchased solar power system, making their installation infinitely more cost effective.
9. Does My State Allow Net Metering? Does My Utility Offer It?
Net metering programs allow for your local utility to pay you back for excess power you generate during peak hours, provided that your system is hooked up to the power grid. Knowing whether your state allows net metering, and if your utility offers it will help you understand your potential savings.
10. How Many Bids Should I Get Before Picking a Solar Installer?
Last, you should definitely familiarize yourself with how bids work. A solar installation, like any other construction project, is far from simple. You will want to solicit bids from at least three reputable installers in your area before choosing the right one for you.
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