Thinking About Solar Panels? Here’s a List of Things to Consider.

solar panels on the roof of building

There are a lot of new reasons why solar panels are an extremely good idea but are they right for your home? Don’t worry, becoming a hippie and eating tofu every day is not a prerequisite to installing solar panels, contrary to popular belief. Hippie or not, want to save the planet or just save a lot of money, or both…we don’t care. Either way, solar panels help you save on energy costs and over the years, solar panels have only become less expensive and even more useful. Another added incentive is the 30% federal tax that you get to claim if you install them before the end of 2019. With where the market is at right now, your solar panels could pay for themselves in as little as 5 years depending on your location. Of course, you need to first see if solar panels are even right for your home. To see if your home is optimal for solar panels, read through the points below regarding your roof.

Things to consider about your home:

  • Solar panels are most productive on roofs that are south-facing. This is due to how the U.S. is positioned in relation to the sun. West-facing and south-facing are the next most productive. North-facing roofs are the least productive and many companies will recommend other options.
  • Solar panels work best when they can be in the sun for at least 5 hours per day. If you have anything that would get in the way of the sun hitting your roof for up to 5 hours, your home may not be optimal. Some things that might cause your roof to become shaded are things like trees, hills, mountains, and other buildings or houses.
  • Solar panels need about 500 sq. ft. of space on your roof. The solar panels require about 100 sq. ft. per kilowatt of solar.
  • Ideally, solar panels need to be positioned at a 30% angle. However, they can be installed on roofs at angles between 0%-45%. When your roof isn’t at an angle that is needed, panels are installed on tilted racks. You’ll want to watch your roof throughout the day and see what goes on in your situation. Sometimes, a roof that is too steep, doesn’t get any sun exposure.
  • Find out what kind of roof you have. Your local jurisdiction may not allow solar panels to be installed on certain types of roofing.
  • Find out how old is your roof is. Usually, your panels will be under warranty for 20-30 years so you want to make sure your roof won’t need to be replaced. Solar panels are usually warrantied to last for 25 to 30 years.
  • Find out what size system do you need. You may not get an accurate estimate from an eager contractor. There are resources you can use to double check any estimates that you receive. Try using the Energy Department’s PVWatts Calculator.
  • How long will you be in this house? Solar panels typically pay for themselves within 5 years. If you sell your home before this happens, you run the risk of taking a financial loss.

Things to consider about the state that you live in and whether solar panels will be worth the investment:

  • What are your local energy costs? You can use this map of electric rates, to see if solar panels will make a significant difference in your energy bill. Decide by checking the rate per kilowatt hour on one of your energy bills.
  • Are there any special incentives available in your state? In addition to the federal tax credit already available, some states offer additional incentives for installing solar panels. You can check for such incentives on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.
  • Does your energy company have net metering? If your power company offers net metering, they will pay you if you generate more electricity than you need, buying the energy back from you. Check here to see if you have net metering.
  • Do you live in an SREC (solar renewable energy certificate) state? There are many states, about 30 states that require power companies to generate a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources. So power companies looking to fill this requirement will sometimes pay you to help them. You can earn up to $480 in some locations.

Do your research about installing solar panels in your area and on your home. Having a contractor come out and help walk you through some of these questions can also be very helpful. Our contractors can work with your solar panel contractor to ensure that their plan meets your overall remodeling goals. Contact us today!


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