Solar panels are becoming a popular way to use and conserve energy. But they bring some challenges. Before installing solar panels on your roof, know these 14 tips.
Installing solar panels is a big move. Not only because it is a big purchase financially, but it’s something that’s going to be on top of your house for 20 to 30 years.
A lot of people are making the transition to solar power, in fact, there was a 41 percent increase in homes with solar panels in 2013.
There are a few things that you’ll want to consider before making the choice to get solar panels and some things to keep in mind before installation.
If your not sure where to start we can help you figure it out. We put together a list of 14 things you might not have considered but need to.
1. Can Your Roof Handle Installing Solar Panels?
Solar panels out a lot of stress on your roof, and if your roof is shaded – you might have to figure something else out.
If your roof is covered in shade, from a tree or a bigger building solar panels won’t work for you.
Only about 25 percent of roofs are right for them.
If your roof is one of the ones that aren’t suitable, you can look into community solar. This is where a few different people pay into one set of solar panels.
If your roof is going to need foreseeable repairs within the next few years, you should get them done before installing solar panels. That way you won’t have to pay for them to be disconnected when you get your roof repaired.
2. Improve Your Energy Efficiency
The number of solar panels you need depends on how much energy your household uses. If you cut back on the amount of energy you’re using, there will be more going back into the grid, helping the panels pay for themselves.
Look for upgrades you can do around your house. Things like updating your lights to LED. You should also make sure your attic is properly insulated. this will help to keep the air in your house that’s been cold or heated, from escaping.
3. Permits and Documents
Before any major remodel you should check to make sure you have any permits that are needed. The government and most states give rebates but they require certifications.
There are different types of certifications based on the type of test and who did the testing. TUV IEC 61215, for example, means that the solar panels were texted by an outside lab.
4. Types of Solar
There are many types of solar power options for residential homes. Photovoltaic is what most people have, it turns sunlight into energy, thermal uses the sunlight to heat water and air to use in your home.
If you live somewhere that your biggest expense is heating, you might be more interested in thermal solar. This is a little more rare for homes, so it could be more difficult to find a company to install it.
When solar panels were a newer thing if you had a small roof getting solar panels that would work and be small enough to fit were extremely expansive. As the technology has advanced getting smaller panels isn’t as costly.
However, if someone is telling you that they can install panels that will work for your home even though your roof is covered – don’t believe them. There is no such technology just yet.
5. Connecting to the Grid
How you connect to the grid varies based on what state you are in. You’ll want to make sure you know if you’ll have to pay a fee to connect and how long it will take. Also once you’re connected you want to know what the reimbursement rates are for the energy that you don’t use.
Nevada, for instance, has policies in place so the state pays less for the energy you have left over. That makes it harder for the panels to pay for themselves.
6. Find a Trustworthy Installer
Installing solar panels on a roof takes some expertise. It’s a combination of electricity and a major home improvement project. This can lead to a lot of complications.
We suggest that you look for someone from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.
You should also look for a stable company. Solar panels don’t need much maintenance, but your warranty is only valid as long as the installation company is still around.
Asking friends and neighbors that have had solar panels installed and see how they feel about the company that they went with.
7. Should you Lease or Buy?
You should look through your household budget and see how much money you actually have to put aside for a project like this. There are pros and cons to either leasing or buying solar panels.
If you buy your panels, you will make more money back on selling the extra energy they produce. If you lease, it’s a lot cheaper to get started but you might not make any money back.
On top of that, the company will be able to take the panels back after the lease is up.
Maintenance is also cheaper when you lease, in most cases if something needs to be replaced it’s the responsibility of the company you are leasing from.
8. What Should be in the Contract?
There are different types of contracts but there are a few key things that need to be included.
You should make sure that all of the information about financing, how the panels should perform, and the ownership of the panels and the energy.
We also suggest that you make sure you know if anyone is collecting data from your solar panels and what they are using it for.
If you are unsure about the contract, it doesn’t hurt to get advice from a lawyer.
9. How Much Coverage do you Need?
You should start to figure out how much energy you actually consume. You can do this by looking at your energy bills.
If you find that your household is using a lot of energy, you should make efforts to decrease your use. It might be worth it to consult an electrician about optimization as well.
The amount of energy that your solar panels will make you varies greatly depending on the area that you live in. Consult with a couple different companies to make sure that you are getting what you need and not paying for more than necessary.
10. The Cost
The expense of solar power is one of the reasons we don’t see it more often. It’s a lot to take on upfront, even though it will pay for itself in the long run.
The batteries also need to be replaced every few years, which adds to your cost. Quality isn’t cheap and like other things in life, you tend to get what you pay for.
11. Getting a Return on Investment
The biggest question most people have is when your solar panels are going to pay for themselves. Most systems end up paying for themselves over 20 years.
There are some things that can help you get your money back sooner than that.
There is a federal tax credit available that can help you pay for around 30 percent of the costs. There are also a number of one-time state tax credits available to homeowners. The amount of those tax credits will vary.
12. How Long is Your Warranty?
Most installations come with 20-25 year warranties, that goes back to making sure you pick a company that will hopefully be around that long.
The warranties last so long because the panels are intended to last long enough to get your money back.
13. Get a Few Quotes
Installing solar panels is a big purchase, it’s in your best interest to get a few different quotes before settling on one company.
While it makes sense for there to be a price difference if there is a huge gap be weary. This might mean that the company that is undercutting might be using poor quality materials or under qualified people.
Something else to keep in mind, larger companies typically have the ability to give price breaks because they can buy in bulk.
14. Avoid Pushy Sales People
It’s commonplace that salespeople use high-pressure tactics to get a sale. Don’t let them pressure you into buying when you aren’t ready. A lot of times they will say that the deal is only good for today, or that its first come first serve. Don’t worry, this is a tactic and most of the time you won’t actually miss the deal.
If it is a limited time deal, the companies will tend to honor the deal that you heard about when first contacting them.
Sometimes a salesperson might come off as pushy because they are passionate, but an ethical salesperson won’t put you under undue pressure. This is a big purchase and they shouldn’t make you feel like you have to make a choice right away.
Getting Your Solar Panels
Installing solar panels is a big deal, it’s a big cost but if you choose wisely you can make you money back and help the environment. If you take everything we mentioned into account you will be well on your way to making a great decision,
If you’re looking for any other tips for remodels, contact us. We’d love to hear from you.