Can I Afford To Go Solar
If you can afford to pay your electricity bill you can afford to go solar. $0-down solar financing options, including both solar loans and solar leases, make it easy for homeowners with good credit to start saving on their electricity bills by going solar. Register on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to compare costs and savings for multiple financing options.
Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel During A Solar Installation
I have a moderately sized electrical panel and over the course of the last 8 years have done a full house rewire, and installed heat pumps . At the beginning the panel was relatively empty because the house was completely under-wired. Now, all the breaker slots are completely full, some with double breakers. Additionally, the system is set up with the mains wiring coming in through a 220v breaker instead of through the top bus bars, which seems weird to me.
Within the last year I put in the Sense energy monitor, which involves putting two inductive clamps over the mains feed. I was able to do it, but it was a really tight fit to get it in place.
I’m about to have a solar install done, and they’ll have an electrician in anyway doing the hookup. They’re willing to upgrade me to a larger box for the cost of 1 days work of an electrician and his apprentice, $1200.
The solar company seems to think they can get the solar installed in my existing box, with no problems. However, I think this might be a good opportunity to get a larger box so I don’t have to worry about it in the future.
I have several opinion questions.
Should I enlarge my box? In theory, I don’t plan to add any more circuits to the house, but this sounds like a good opportunity to future proof. On the other hand, I don’t want to throw $1200 at something if I don’t have to.
Advantages Of Solar Panels
- Independent from the grid
Cheaper Electricity Bills
With an increase in electric gadgets comes an increase in utility bills. You can reduce your electricity bills by incorporating solar panels into your household.
The energy produced by solar panels is completely free, and surplus energy can always be stored for future use, or exported back to the grid.
Earn Money Back
With the Smart Export Guarantee you can make money by selling surplus electricity back to the grid. The SEG requires that all energy suppliers with 150,000 or more customers must offer an export tariff to homeowners, and the tariff must be above zero.
This means that small-scale solar PV generators will be able to see a return on their investment. However, only new installations can register for the SEG, while those already signed up under the Feed-in Tariff will be bound to those conditions.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Switching to solar energy significantly reduces your carbon footprint as it is a green, renewable source of energy. Unlike traditional electricity generators, like fossil fuels, coal, and oil, solar power does not release harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants.
Estimates also show that domestic solar panels could save around one tonne of CO2 per year, which means just one installation can offset approximately 25 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime.
Low Maintenance Required
Independent from the Grid
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Wiring The System And Components
If you are unfamiliar with electrical wiring standards, you should leave wiring the system to a solar professional or an electrician. Your goal is to connect the solar panels into strings or groups and then attach them as a unit to the conduit wiring and to do so safely.
Is It Worth Buying Cheap Solar Panels
Solar panels can indeed be expensive, and some will want to find the cheapest solution. Cheap solar panels can make the setup costs more affordable, but they may not be worth it in the long run. After all, investing in solar energy is a decision with long-term implications. Cheap solar panels are likely to have a shorter lifespan and lower efficiency, and for that reason, your savings might be less significant.
When considering installing solar panels in your home, solar panel prices should not be the only factor. It will pay off, in the long run, to invest in high-quality panels and especially in a premium inverter from an MCS-certified installer that has a good reputation in your area.
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Do I Need To Replace My Roof Before Installing Solar
Solar energy systems can last for 25 to 35 years, and it can be costly to remove and reinstall them if you need to replace your roof. If your roof needs maintenance in the near term, you should complete it before you finish your solar installation. One of EnergySages pre-screened solar installers will be able to tell you whether to replace your roof before going solar.
What Is Electric Power
Power is the rate at which energy is transferred. It is equivalent to voltage times current and is measured in Watts . In solar PV systems, an important function of the inverter in addition to converting DC power from the solar array to AC power for use in the home and on the grid is to maximize the power output of the array by varying the current and voltage.
For a more technical explanation of how current, voltage, and power interact within the context of a solar PV system, check out our article on Maximum Power Point Tracking .
In it, we discuss current-voltage curves , and power-voltage curves . These curves offer insight into the voltage and current combination at which power output is maximized.
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Electrical Wiring Diagrams Illustrate Connections In The System
Note that wiring diagrams are not physical maps of how your system will look in real life. Rather, they illustrate the connection between all parts of the system so that they can be properly wired together.
Unbound Solar® includes CAD electrical diagrams as a part of our packaged systems. In addition, our tech team reviews these diagrams to mitigate voltage drop. If you want to learn more about our wiring diagrams,
If You Decide Solar Panels Are Right For You Find A Registered Installer And Get Three Quotes
As we’re MoneySavers, not electricians, picking installers isn’t our speciality. You can see the firms shortlisted for the British Renewable Energy Awards 2020, run by the Renewable Energy Association, or ask friends and colleagues for recommendations.
As always, get at least three quotes, and get ’em in writing. When comparing quotes, check the following are included: scaffolding, removal of the existing roof and other roofing works, internal wiring works, sorting out a connection agreement with the energy supplier, electrical connection work, and a generation meter. Fitting the panels themselves is a one or two-day job.
Once they’re fitted, registering your panels is a must you’ll need an MCS certificate, which you’ll use to register for smart export guarantee payments with a licensed energy supplier.
Never borrow from solar companies to pay for the panels
Some installers let you buy solar panels on credit. If you don’t have the cash upfront, panels aren’t for you. The loan’s interest could dwarf the savings.
Solar panels are generally low maintenance
The Energy Saving Trust says little maintenance is required on a properly installed, well-designed solar PV system, though you’ll likely need to replace the inverter a gadget that is a key part of the mechanism within about 25 years .
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What Are My Solar Financing Options
There are three solar financing options: you can purchase your system in cash, take out a solar loan to buy your system, or sign a solar lease/power purchase agreement . EnergySages Instant Estimate Tool can help you assess the costs and 20-year savings of each solar financing option its calculations are based on your roof plus real quote data from your area.
What Types Of Solar Panel Are There
There are three main types of solar panel to choose from monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. Monocrystalline is the most common option you will see on residential homes. This is considered to be the most efficient of all the solar panels, but it comes with a steep price as a consequence.
Polycrystalline panels are a little less efficient by comparison, but they don’t cost as much. Thin-film panels, on the other hand, have a much finer design, which makes them more flexible and portable. These arent as efficient as monocrystalline though. The best option for you will depend on your home and your budget.
And then there’s the question of solar panels vs. solar shingles. Solar panels are more traditional, and are lower in cost by comparison. Solar shingles are newer, and rather than sitting on top of your roof, are designed to look like your shingles, so they’re more aesthetically pleasing. However, solar shingles are significantly more expensive than solar panels.
Avoid Losing Your Feed
Upgrading could force you to forfeit the feed-in tariffs youâre currently enjoying with the old system.
Check your stateâs FiT rules and policies to avoid losing out. Policies change over time. Check any restrictions that govern how you upgrade your solar system.
Calculate whether youâd make more money on the current tariff. Then, consult your provider or power company before you upgrade your solar.
Also, find out if your electricity network provider allows an expansion or approves the new size of power production.
In some cases, you may have to treat the additional panels as a whole new system. Youâd keep the existing system’s tariffs, but youâd also incur lots of costs for the new installation.
Do You Need To Upgrade Your Inverter As Well
Yes, you can upgrade the inverter of an existing solar system to convert more power. The inverter forms the heart of the solar system. Any increase in the number of solar panels demands an upgrade to the inverter.
The inverter determines how much electricity your system can handle. Whenever you are stepping up or increasing your power output, consider upgrading your inverter, too.
Inverters experience harsh weather conditions as theyâre usually installed outside the house. Installing a high-quality inverter in an enclosed shelter is a brilliant solution to most of the faults.
If panels develop a problem, it will take time before they affect the system. But, in case the inverter stopped working, the whole system would fail.
Chat showing how an inverter works
So, the inverter is literally at the heart of your system and needs an upgrade more than any other component. If you want a seamless supply of solar power to your home, you must have a top-tier inverter.
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Solar Batteries Are Expensive But May Be Worth It For Those Who Use A Substantial Amount Of Electricity
A solar battery can store any excess power generated by your solar panels that you don’t use at the time, rather than exporting it back to the grid. They aren’t cheap costing about £2,100 for a three kilowatt-hour battery.
The savings you make on your bills can be significant, though. The price you’re paid for each unit of energy you export to the grid is usually much lower than the price you pay your supplier for electricity. So, economically, it makes more sense to store the energy and use it yourself with E.on saying a household with a battery could use 30% more of the electricity they generate themselves.
Another potential advantage of a battery is that it can increase the rate you get paid for exporting your electricity back to the grid. Some firms will pay many times more than the standard amount if you buy certain types of batteries. See what firms pay.
The battery isn’t all about what you generate yourself, either. If you’re on a flexible ‘time-of-use’ energy tariff, with cheaper electricity overnight for example, you can charge the battery at cheaper times from the grid and use it to power your house during more expensive hours.
Upgrade Electrical Panel Diy Risks
Electrical projects are not the best for do-it-yourselfers. There are many things that can go wrong, some of which are fatal. Hiring a licensed, experienced electrician will most likely save you in the long run. These professionals are aware of the local and most recent electrical codes and can inspect your electrical panel and wiring for any defects.
Electricians go through extensive training to become licensed and are required to complete continuing education hours to renew their licenses, which also keeps them up with national, state and local laws and regulations.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Between 2010 and 2014, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to an average of 45,210 home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction. These fires caused annual averages of 420 civilian deaths, 1,370 civilian injuries, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage.
An electrician also does more than just safely wire your home he or she can expertly advise you on how much electricity your home actually needs to run properly. Be sure to tell him or her about any future big appliance upgrades or additions you have planned. Even a new TV and installing surround sound or other devices can make a difference in the amount of electricity your home needs. An electrician can also tell if your wiring is old or if circuits are damaged.
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How Can I Find Out If I Need A Main Panel Upgrade
When you go solar, one of the first things that will happen is that a technician will come to your home to inspect it for readiness to go solar. They will determine if your houses main panel needs an upgrade. Some old breaker panels have been determined to be dangerous. For more information on what panels have been found to be dangerous, check out this website.
Note: The website linked above states that Zinsco panels can be dangerous. Freedom Forever can install solar with Zinsco panels unless other issues are found
Don’t Assume You’ll Always Recoup The Cost Of Solar Panels On Your Home’s Value If You Sell Your House Early
Some people assume that a more efficient home generating its own energy would be more attractive to buyers. But others worry that ‘ugly’ panels plastered all over their roof could push the price of their house down.
Solar panels are a hefty investment and might not be suited to those planning to move in the next few years certainly you shouldn’t expect a big upfront investment to be immediately reflected by a jump in your home’s value.
Trade body Solar Energy UK recently published a report which found homeowners who move having had panels installed would claw back some of the value of their investment in a higher sale price. It looked at more than five million property transactions and said a typical home with solar panels could increase in price by at least £1,800.
When we asked NAEA Propertymark for an overview, it was more cagey. It said: “Having such sustainable technologies will become more attractive for homeowners in the future. There are benefits to having solar panels however, in the short term, they don’t provide an increase in house value, with the panels often costing more than they attribute in value. With houses coming on to the market in short supply and other factors, people are being forced to compromise on their preferences, including energy saving measures.”
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Roof Repairs Or Replacement
Your solar panel system will last for 30+ years, so you want to make sure your roof will also last this long without requiring any repairs or replacement .
Upon a site visit, your potential solar installer has the opportunity to look at your roof in-person and, when doing so, they may notice some issues that need to be resolved before they are comfortable putting panels on top of it. This can include signs of aging or structural issues that need reinforcement prior to adding the extra weight of solar panels to your roof.
The added cost of this type of work can really vary from roof to roof keep in mind that your solar installer may not offer roofing services themselves, so you may have to work with another contractor before moving forward with your solar installation, but you can always ask your solar installer for recommendations of companies theyve worked with before!
Should I Ask For A Solar Monitoring System For My Solar Panels
If you are interested in receiving detailed information about how much energy your solar panel system is producing, ask your installer about solar monitoring system options. In many cases, solar lease agreements will include free programs to track your systems performance. If you own your system you may need to pay for one separately.
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