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If you’re a homeowner and can get enough daily sunlight, solar panels are an excellent way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. They can also add value to your home.
But choosing the right installer is crucial. Before signing a contract, make sure you’ve asked the right questions.
1. The size of your roof
If you’re considering solar panels, it’s important to have an accurate idea of how much space is available. This will help determine whether your home or building can accommodate a solar system, as well as the type of system you can get.
Measuring your roof’s square footage isn’t as difficult as it may sound. A person of average height will take around 2.5 feet with each stride, so you can easily calculate the size of your home by counting the number of steps it takes to walk around the entire structure. Once you have the numbers, simply multiply them by two to get the square footage of your roof.
It’s also important to know what kind of roof you have. While most types of roofs are compatible with solar panels, certain materials may not be ideal. For example, wood shingles aren’t a good choice for a solar panel installation because they’re brittle and can be prone to damage. Solar panels also require a flat roof surface.
Additionally, the angle of your roof is another important factor to consider. A good roof pitch will allow your solar panels to absorb the most sunlight throughout the day. A steeper roof will be more effective than a shallow one, so it’s best to consult a professional when determining the ideal angle of your roof.
It’s also worth noting that solar panels add value to your home. Studies have shown that homes with solar panels sell for tens of thousands more than those without. This makes them a great investment for any homeowner looking to save money on electricity bills. Plus, if you install your solar panels correctly, they’ll last for years to come!
2. The type of roof
A solar panel’s efficiency depends on several factors, including the type of roof it’s installed on. While most types of roofs are compatible with solar panels, some are better suited for this purpose than others. If you’re unsure whether your roof is suitable for solar, check with a professional to get a better idea of your options.
For example, asphalt shingle roofs are a good choice for solar because they can easily be drilled into and aren’t vulnerable to corrosion. On the other hand, slate or metal roofs are less compatible with solar.
In addition to the type of roof, the pitch and direction of the panels also affect how well they perform. A steeper roof is better for solar, as it allows more sunlight to reach the top of the panel. However, it’s important to remember that even a flat roof can produce a significant amount of energy.
Another factor that can affect a solar power system’s efficiency is the amount of shade it gets. A fully shaded roof will produce significantly less energy than a roof that receives full sun all day long. However, a shaded roof can still be used to power a home, especially if it is located on the east or west side of the house.
Solar systems that include a battery to store energy are able to work even when the sun isn’t out. These systems are more expensive than simple PV solar panels, but they offer a greater return on investment. In addition, they are a more permanent installation that will stay with the house when it’s sold or remodeled. Solar power systems are a great way to reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint. But before you start any physical work, make sure you check the local and state incentives and rebates available to you.
3. The type of panels
Choosing the right type of panels is crucial to how much energy your home will produce. Each panel type has its own unique characteristics, including cost, efficiency, degradation rate, and warranty coverage. While the upfront price of some types of solar panels may be higher, they will make up for this cost in the money they save you on electricity costs.
A good solar installer will evaluate your property’s roof to determine the most efficient and economical way to power your house with solar. They will also take into consideration any shade, such as trees, that will inhibit the amount of sunlight your panels receive. A qualified installer can help you identify any sources of shading, and provide recommendations for removing or trimming them.
The solar installation process can take anywhere from three to five weeks, depending on the size of your system and local regulations. Having a reliable solar installer is essential to ensure a smooth and seamless experience. Look for a company that is licensed, insured, and offers a customer satisfaction guarantee. They should also be familiar with the local regulations and incentives of your jurisdiction.
Once your system is installed, it will need to be inspected and cleaned twice per year to maintain its optimal performance. It’s important to work with a solar company that can offer these services, as they will be the best positioned to explain the benefits of solar energy to prospective buyers. This will ensure your home has the highest market value when it’s time to sell. Additionally, a real estate agent who is familiar with solar will be better prepared to promote the financial benefits of your solar system to potential buyers.
4. The amount of sunlight
The amount of sunlight that hits your roof at any given time depends on where you live. The sunnier the area, the more solar power your system will generate and the more you will save on energy bills. If your home is located in a cloudy region, however, the amount of sunny daylight hours may not be enough to make solar energy worth it for you.
Fortunately, there are solutions like leases and PPAs that enable homeowners to benefit from the solar energy revolution even in places with high utility rates. These arrangements redirect electricity expenses to pay a clean energy company, making it possible for low and middle-income Americans to go solar.
Another factor that determines how much solar energy your panels can produce is their wattage. Higher wattage solar panels will be more expensive, but they can also produce more energy. For example, a residential solar panel with a 250-watt rating can produce the same amount of energy as one with a 370-watt rating. To find out how many solar panels you need, consider your house’s hourly energy use and the average peak sun hours in your location. Then, multiply the result by a panel’s wattage to establish a rough estimate of how many panels you need.
Solar panels also lose some of their output when they’re shaded, so ensuring that your roof can accommodate them is vital. As a general rule, shading a panel will reduce its output by about 40-90%. To minimize shade losses, you can choose to install a solar panel with the highest efficiencies on the market or opt for an inverter that maximizes performance in partial shading situations.
5. The amount of electricity you use
When determining how many solar panels you need to offset your energy consumption, it helps to have an idea of how much electricity your house uses each month. Ideally, you can find this information by compiling a year’s worth of power bills. On each bill, locate the kilowatt hours or kWh used.
Using your average daily usage, multiply that number by the average amount of hours of sunlight in your area. Then divide the result by a panel’s wattage to establish a rough estimate of how many panels you will need. In addition, it’s a good idea to add 25 percent “cushion” to your calculations because solar panels don’t produce maximum efficiency all the time.
It’s also a good idea to look at the historical rate of utility increases in your area. Some places have very low historical increases, while others have higher increases. You can compare rates in your area by looking at old bills or by contacting your local utility company.
You should also take into account any future plans you have for your home, including a possible electric car or other appliance purchases, that may increase your household’s electricity usage. It’s a good idea to invest in an energy audit and make efficiency upgrades before you decide to install solar panels.
Once you have all this information, it’s time to comparison shop for a solar installation. A great way to do this is by using a solar marketplace, which compiles installers’ customer reviews, certifications, Better Business Bureau profiles, and other information. By comparing quotes from multiple companies, you can ensure that you are getting the best price and the right size system for your needs.
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