Things To Consider Before Going Solar
Youve heard about all the benefits of solar power: its good for the environment, its easy to install, and your utility bill will plummet. But like any renovation in your home, solar panels dont just happen overnight. Theres lots of decisions to make, researching costs and ways to save, and finding a contractor you can trust. So before you pull the trigger, consider these 10 factors before investing in solar energy.
Is A Diy Solar Installation A Good Idea
While you can install solar panels yourself, it may not be the best idea simply because of the potential danger involved. DIY solar installations let you save money on labor costs and you can even find DIY solar kits online, which range from $8,000 to $10,000.
However, the potential savings may not be worth the risk: youre working on a roof, plus youre completing electrical work. Not to mention, youll need to work out all of the permitting and planning yourself, which can be hard to navigate. You also run the risk of voiding out warranties and not qualifying for certain incentives.
So, while you can install solar yourself, we dont advise it. DIY may save you a buck, but going with a professional installer will save you a headache.
How Does The Program Work
Many homeowners are finding they are saving nearly 70% on their utility bills by installing subsidized solar panels with the help of these rebates. Are you a homeowner that spends over $400 on your utility bill every month? âs network of installers can help you save as much as $300 of that bill, each month! Thatâs an estimated $3,600 a year!
Until now, the cost to install solar has been too high for homeowners. But in the last 4 years, the cost of solar panels has dropped by a significant margin, and homeowners are paying for the installation and panels with the tax credit and their utility bill savings. It’s a serious savings for homeowners!
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Second Solar Site Check Find The Right Roof Pitch
The ideal system will also have a tilt angle of your latitude 10°. In Madison, where I am, we are at 43° north, so my system should aim for 33° tilt. The idea is to maximize output during the longer days in summer. If your roof is a 4-12 pitch, it converts to 18.5°. That is fine.
Raising the back edge to increase the tilt angle will only gain you a few extra percent of production at the expense of higher wind loading. More wind load means more structural stress and more supports. The extra cost exceeds the production gains. It also means more roof penetrations and potential leaks. Even a flat roof can be a good location for P-V. A roof that is greater than 45° would not be ideal.
I will use my old house as the example for this article. The roof had a 5-12 pitch or 22.5°. The main ridge of the roof is north-south, but the house had a 3-season porch off the back that has a south-facing roof. The lower edge is only 17 and there is 11 of vertical space. That may not seem like a lot, but it can still be productive.
How Much Sunlight Does Your Roof Receive
To see if your house is a good candidate for solar, try out a solar panel suitability checker such as Google’s Project Sunroof. Then set up an appointment for a solar consultation with an expert who will visit your home to inspect its orientation , roof angle and tree shading to see if your roof will receive enough sunlight to meet your family’s energy needs. SunPower’s solar consultations are free, and you can learn a lot about your home and best energy options. The more direct sunlight your home receives, the more power the panels will produce. While SunPower solar panels are known for being extremely efficient at generating power in low-light situations, excessive shading will reduce the amount of power that can be generated.
It’s also important to know that SunPower’s Equinox solar solution has factory integrated micro-inverters in each panel, an innovative solar design feature that means if one panel isn’t producing energy because of shade, neighboring panels that might be receiving more sunlight can still generate solar energy for your home.
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Looking To Reduce Your Dependence On Traditional Power Sources Heres How To Figure Out Whether Solar Is For You
If youve been thinking about adding a solar power system to your home, you arent alone. Some 3 million systems sit atop American roofs, including about 400,000 that were installed each year in 2019 and 2020, according to Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Energy Department.
Solar Panels Are Toxic
Solar panels contain materials including lead, chromium, and cadmium. When disposed of improperly, these elements can leak into groundwater and soil, causing toxic buildup.
This is true for everything from car batteries to household cleaning products, though, and is not reason enough to avoid solar panels. In fact, its one of the more incorrect arguments people use to justify why we shouldnt use solar energy.
Like anything else, solar panels need to be disposed of properly when their time of usefulness is over. You wouldnt toss your old tires out on the road, and the same goes for your old solar panels.
Luckily, a qualified solar installation company will understand how to dispose of your solar panels in a way that protects the environment, prevents them from becoming harmful or toxic, and reduces their life-cycle impact.
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What About Net Metering
Net metering is one of the most important solar policies and incentives in the residential solar industry. Essentially, it allows you to store any excess energy produced by your solar system in the electrical grid for use at a later time. With net metering, you wont receive a monthly payment: instead, you will receive utility bill credits for the electricity produced by your solar panels. Its important to note that not all states offer net metering, so youll want to check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency , which tracks net metering and other policies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panel Systems
Residential solar panels are one of the best ways to save money in the long term and create a positive environmental impact. Before you go solar, here are 12 key things to keep in mind:
1. How much has the price of residential solar dropped in recent years?
If youre an optimist looking for feel-good statistics, the cost of solar electricity in the past decade is a great place to start. U.S. solar installation cost has dropped by around 70 percent over the past 10 years. In the last year alone, the residential market saw a five percent decrease in cost. Theres no question that solar energy has evolved from a cleantech commodity to a sensible home upgrade that millions of Americans are considering. Getting solar panels on your roof is one of the smartest decisions you can make in todays age.
However, if youre still hesitant about making an upfront investment in solar panels, rest assured that there are warranties that can give you peace of mind and confidence that youll see significant savings come your way. Solar panels typically have two major types of warranties: a product warranty and a power warranty. Also known as a materials warranty, a product warranty covers the integrity of the equipment itself and typically lasts at least 10 years, with top product warranties generally lasting 25 years. A power warranty will usually guarantee 97% production at 1 year and 80% at 25 years, with top power warranties guaranteeing at least 90% production at year 25.
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Frequently Asked Questions: What Else Makes Solar Panels Worth It
Theres a whole lot more to know about solar than just are solar panels worth it. Here are a few other questions people commonly want answers to about the worthiness of solar panels:
How much do solar panels cost?
As of July 2021, solar panels cost about $20,474 for a 10 kilowatt system. That includes the generous 26% federal solar tax credit, but not additional local rebates and incentives you may be able to take advantage of.
How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?
Most property owners who get solar quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace will break even on their solar investment in seven to eight years. After that, youll be generating free electricity and racking up the savings!
Should you wait to buy solar panels?
Even though the cost of solar panels continues to fall, its usually not worth it to wait. The longer you wait to go solar, the more savings youre missing out on. In the long run, its worth it to go solar as soon as possible for most shoppers, instead of hoping for a much cheaper price down the road.
Dangerous Electromagnetic Radiations Reduce Life Expectancy
There are a lot of electromagnetic waves around a farm produced by power storage equipment. Such strong waves are very unhealthy to the body. People having electromagnetic hypersensitivity quickly get sick when exposed to such conditions. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a scarce condition.
If you live near a solar project and experience regular headaches and restlessness, then go for a checkup. It can be life-threatening if not treated. It would be best to if diagnosed early to make treatment comfortable.
Improper disposal of waste materials from solar facility are also very hazardous to the adjacent community. The waste materials, mainly energy storage materials like batteries, are electromagnetic. It is essential always to raise concerns in case of any mishandling of solar waste.
People living with electromagnetic sensitivity should not live near solar tech farms. If diagnosed with the condition and live nearby, consider relocating to a new place. You will be saving your life and that of your family members who are not yet been affected by electromagnetic radiation.
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Youre Not Eligible For Incentives And Rebates
When it comes to solar power, government incentives and rebates are extremely important.
The most important of these is the solar Investment Tax Credit , which is offered by the federal government and has helped grow the solar industry by 10,000% since its enactment in 2006. The ITC is currently worth 26% you can use it to save over a quarter of the price of your solar system. This incentive can play a huge role in improving the payback period of a solar system purchase.
Additional incentives are usually available at the state level, and sometimes at the local level, as well. Right now, 38 states offer net metering, a valuable incentive that allows you to sell your electricity to the utility company at retail rates, while other states, such as New York, offer state tax credits worth thousands of dollars.
But if youre in a situation where you dont qualify for incentives the federal tax credit, for instance, only applies if you pay federal taxes to begin with then solar energy may not be right for you.
Solar Panels Are Expensive
There are significant costs involved in installing solar panels on your home, with the average price running between $15,000 and $25,000. While these costs decrease every year, you still have to budget for contractors, permits, and the system price. However, there are ways to mitigate the upfront expense.
Consider financing or renting your solar panels. This allows you to break up the costs into more manageable monthly payments. If you lease solar panels, you can’t receive tax incentives. They go to the company providing the lease.
Furthermore, there are federal and state tax incentives to drive down costs. The Investment Tax Credit allows homeowners a one-time tax credit of 26% of the costs of the solar panels off their federal income tax. Many states also offer smaller bonuses for installing solar panels. Utilizing all of these can help offset some of those hefty upfront expenses.
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What Is Passive Solar Heating
Passive solar heating means that a building has been designed to capture sunlight to heat the interior. In the Northern hemisphere, this means having lots of south-facing glass that lets the sunlight inside the building, and less glass on the north side so that better wall insulation can keep the heat contained.
Other features might include long overhangs designed to let light in during the winter months but shade the windows in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky. Landscaping can be part of it, such as using decidiuous on the south side of the building that lose their leaves and let sunlight pass through in the winter, but block sunlight in the summer.
This technique is called passive because there is no use of electricity or mechanical technology. Still, high tech may be used, such as double or triple glazed windows or thermal mass in the walls or floor that help to retain heat.
While a fully passive solar home needs to be designed from scratch, any homeowner can still do simple things to maximize their solar heat gain in the winter and reduce it in the summer.
For example, you can save a surprising amount of energy simply by operating your blinds. If its a sunny day in winter and you have a lot of south-facing windows, leaving your blinds wide open can add heat equivalent to running a space heater. Conversely, keeping your blinds shut in the summer can reduce your air conditioning needs significantly.
Your Electricity Costs Are Already Low
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 96% of homeowners have installed solar, or are considering doing so, to save money on utility bills.
This makes perfect sense. Many American households spend hundreds of dollars every month on their power bills and solar panels are often the most effective way to slash that amount. Financial modeling by SolarReviews shows 25-year bill savings in the amount of $62,803 for solar panels installed in San Francisco in 2021, for instance.
However, some homeowners dont spend very much on electricity. This could be because of one or more of the following factors:
- You have a small home
- You have a small household size
- Your home and appliances are energy efficient
- You enjoy low electric rates from your local utility
If thats you, and you pay $50 or less a month for electricity, then installing solar probably isnt worth the time and effort.
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Promote The Reputation Of Your Solar Installer To Put Buyers Minds At Ease
If you had your solar panels installed by a reputable company in the area with a recognizable consumer brand, highlight that in your marketing materials. This will allay buyer concerns about the quality of your solar panel installation.
According to EnergySage, the top 5 solar panel installers nationally include:
How Many Kwh Can Solar Panels Produce And How Many Panels You Need On Your Roof
The amount of power your solar energy system can produce depends on the number of solar panels that can absorb solar energy and convert it into electricity.
Assuming you are going to choose standard-efficiency solar panels, here are the most common sizes for residential solar systems and their kWh production potential to give you an idea of how many panels you would need to run a house.
- A 3kW solar system which consists of 12 panels can produce an average of 4,200 kWh per year. You will need a roof space of about 194 sq ft for a 3kW system.
- A 5kW solar system which consists of 20 panels can produce an average of 7,000 kWh per year. You will need a roof space of about 340 sq ft for a 5kW system.
- A 10kW solar system which consists of 40 panels can produce an average of 14,000 kWh per year. You will need a roof space of about 680 sq ft for a 10kW system.
Keep in mind that the amount of power your solar system can produce depends on how much sunlight your roof receives and your location.
For example, California has more sunny days annually than Washington. In this case if you live in Washington you would need a bigger solar system to get the same power as you would get with a smaller system in California.
The Renewable Resource Data Center provides average daily total solar resource information on grid cells by state and its free to use so check it out.
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What Type Of Home Do You Live In And Do You Own It
The other biggest factor in determining whether you are a good fit for solar is the type of home you live in, as well as whether you own or rent your home. In general, its much more difficult to install solar panels on your home if you dont own the building. For that same reason, if you live in a multi-family property, whether renting or owning in apartments or a condo building, it may be difficult to take advantage of on-site solar.