Solar Power: 7 Questions to Ask Before Going Solar

Going solar is a big decision for the homeowner. With the solar industry is blossoming,  the abundance of information about solar panels can leave you with more questions than answers.

Ready to break up with your local power grid? If so, there are many factors to consider before unplugging your home, as this eco-conscious endeavor can be risky and expensive. As a homeowner, it’s important to take calculated risks rather than signing the dotted line without a second thought.

For those homeowners hoping to cover their bases, here are seven essential questions you should ask before going solar.

How many panels will I need?

Solar panels have a lower power density than, say, fossil fuels or coal, meaning you will need more panels to generate the same amount of energy as a traditional grid. The typical American home needs about twenty to twenty-five solar panels to cover one hundred percent of its energy needs.

However, you don’t need to completely unplug from your local electrical grid to use solar panels. Now you may be wondering: How many solar panels do I need to run my home? You can start with a few solar panels for your home before working your way up to full coverage. For those solar panel beginners, fifteen panels may generate enough power for half of your energy needs, which means you pay fifty percent less to the power company.

Is my house suitable for solar power?

Not all homes are ideal for solar power. If you live in an older home, make sure to check the condition of your roof. Solar panels will be added weight on an already old roof structure, so ensuring that your roof is structurally sound to support a set of panels is essential.

To assess the solar panel aptitude of your home, perform a thorough inspection of your roof. If it needs repairs, it’s best to get them taken care of before installing solar panels. The added cost of uninstallation may not be worth the cost of the initial setup.

How much will this cost me?

Solar panels are a significant investment, but ditching electricity bills and relying on a local power grid is worth the high initial costs. While it may take years for the energy savings to outweigh the upfront expenses, installing solar panels drastically increases the resell value of your house. You can also earn tax incentives for generating your renewable energy, saving you even more money on monthly bills.

What type of panels should I look for?

Your home’s unique energy needs can be met with solar panels, but which ones? There are three main types of panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, passivated and rear cell (PERC), and thin-film panels. Each panel is designed with different energy consumption needs in mind.

If you need a high-performance panel and don’t mind a bit extra upfront cost, consider a monocrystalline panel system. Monocrystalline panels are made from pure silicone and are the most space-efficient panels on the market. Polycrystalline panels are a step down from monocrystalline versions. While monocrystalline panels are cut from a singular silicon crystal, polycrystalline panels are made from multiple silicon crystals. These crystals are then melted together and made into a sheet. They are cheaper upfront but often lack efficiency and need frequent replacing.

Passive and rear cell, or PERC, panels are a newer version of the monocrystalline panel. Its unique take on the technology helps the panel collect energy by reflecting light upon itself. This process allows PERC panels to collect the same amount of power with a smaller panel, saving you space.

Thin-film panels are a quick solar treatment for your home. They are skinny and flexible and don’t require any backing or framing, allowing them to be installed anywhere easily. They come in various sizes to fit your home’s specific needs and are easily replaced without having to tamper with your entire grid. Thin-film panels are inexpensive. However, they will need replacing often.

Should I install them myself or hire a professional?

If you feel up to it, installing solar panels is a relatively simple job. Your panels should come with set-up packages that make set-up a breeze. However, be warned that connecting your solar panels to your home’s grid is the tricky part.

Houses are wired differently, and figuring out how to connect and run a new energy system can be a daunting task to the unskilled electrician. Hiring a professional is a safe bet when dealing with the minutiae of the wiring. However, you can take it upon yourself to contact your local energy supplier and discuss your options. You may disconnect entirely or slowly cut back on your energy usage until you run entirely solar. It is also a good idea to look into whether you need to register your panels to receive tax incentives.

Is this worth the investment?

Installing solar panels means transferring your entire home to a new way of operating, which can be a chore. A hefty investment of time and money will go into this change, so it is natural to ask whether it is worth the investment.

If you consider the broader scope of our current energy market, the need for renewable sources is rising. After all, there is a surging demand for independent grids to power homes when local grids are unreliable. Soon, the norm will be homes that generate their energy, so considering this as a resale factor is also vital. The initial costs are daunting, but the payoff is worth it.

Do I need to consider my HOA?

Before installing solar panels, the last thing to consider is whether you need to contact your HOA about your panels. Home Owners Associations can set their own rules about placement and sizing of panels, but many states have declared it unlawful for HOAs to deny their residents their rights to have solar panels on their homes. If you encounter issues, consider speaking with your solar panel representative, who can help advocate on your behalf.

Final thoughts

Switching to solar carries many questions, and soon you need to be an expert on all things solar. What kinds of solar panels are right for you, how many, and how are you going to get them up on your roof? Is this expensive? Is it worth the investment? Will my neighbors complain about my solar panels? These are all factors that need to be addressed before you move ahead with going solar, but the pros far outweigh the cons. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you can also contribute to solving our energy crisis and make renewable energy part of your home.

 

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