Home Solar Panels: Six Factors That Will Matter Most To You
If you’re hoping to get a break on your utilities bills soon—you won’t. Electricity rates have been steadily increasing for more than 15 yearsand are expected to go up again next year. This may have you considering other forms of renewable energy to offset your costs and make a positive impact on the environment. There are tax credits and other incentives to reduce your carbon footprint, so home solar panels are more appealing than ever.
Fortunately, solar technologies are improving, which is bringing down the price and making it more affordable for the average homeowner. What’s more, the average residential system offsets about 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every 20 years the equivalent of driving a car for 100,000 miles!
So, are home solar panels a good option for you? Plenty of homeowners love the idea, but they aren’t sure whether their roofing, weather and other logistical concerns make this smart choice.
If you’re on the fence, here are six important factors to consider.
1. Home Solar Panels Technology
Solar electric power got its start in the 1950s, but it wasn’t always accessible to consumers. Since then, however, the technology has seen significant improvements, and solar panel installers have gained more experience. Solar panel installations that once took days can now be done in hours.
Solar panel efficiency has also improved significantly, monocrystalline panels are the most efficient. The output of your home solar panels will depend on the technology you choose. It’s important to balance solar panel cost with efficiency.
2. Your Current Energy Efficiency
The US Department of Energyrecommends you investigate your current energy use and efficiency before purchasing a solar system. A home energy audit can help you determine where your home is losing energy, and which measures will have the greatest impact. Are you losing money due to faulty insulation, leaks and cracks, or a poorly functioning heating and cooling system? An assessment will help you find out.
If you purchase a solar panel system from Sunpro, our sister company EnergyPro does a complete Home Energy Audit including:
Adding insulation to hot water tanks
Updated/improved weather stripping
3. What You Stand to Gain With A Solar Panel System
How much will your energy efficiency improve if you install solar? The amount of power you generate depends on how much sunlight hits your panels, the surface area of your system, and the efficiency of each solar panel. A typical solar panel produces around 280 watts of power which varies according to size and manufacture.
There are several conditions you’ll need to discuss with your installer, most notably shade. How much shade does your roof get now, and how much will it have in the future when your trees (and your neighbors’ trees) have grown?
Just as important are the size of your roof and its orientation to the sun. The average solar panel The average sola panel is roughly 15 square feet and can generate 1200-1500 watts of electricity per day. A south-facing roof free of chimneys, vents and other obstructions is also ideal for homeowners in North America.
Ultimately, the effect these factors have on your electric bill will depend upon your electric utility’s net metering arrangement. Net metering is the system utilities use to determine electric bills based on the net amount of electricity their customers consume.
Simply put, the power you draw from the grid minus the power you produce and transfer to the grid equals your net energy consumption. There will be cloudy days when you can’t produce enough to power your home, but they may be offset – and then some – by sunnier days on which you produce a surplus. Like rollover cell phone minutes, that surplus energy will be credited to your account at the end of each billing cycle.
4. The Condition of Your Roof
A quality solar system doesn’t require a new roof. Our expert installers can determine whether your roof is in good enough condition. That said, removing panels for a roof repair is a costly process and if you know your roof needs maintenance, it’s in your best interest to tackle that task first.
Sunpro’s sister company, Buildpro, can assess your roof and determine if you need to repair or even replace your roof. If your roof is nearing the end of its life, it would be wise to invest in a new roof before installing solar panels.
5. Rules and Regulations Around Home Solar Panels
Historically, homeowner associations have restricted the type and size of solar installations their residents can install, and even whether they can be installed at all. However, many states such as Texas have enacted solar rights provisions, which limit HOAs’ abilities to make these restrictions. Provisions vary wildly between states and municipalities, so you’ll need to check local guidelines before you install.
6. Working with your Solar Panel Installation Company
Ultimately, you’ll need to work with a solar panel installation expert to determine your solar panel cost and potential savings. Once an installer inspects your home, you’ll know just how much money you stand to save.
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