5 Steps to Choosing the Right Solar Panel System For Your Home
The number of U.S. households with solar power has now surpassed enough to power 11 million American homes throughout the United States. By going solar, not only do you get amazing cost savings, you help save the world and take a giant step towards becoming energy independent! If you’ve decided to power your home with solar energy, here are the first five steps you need to take so you get the system that is the right size for you and your family for the next 25 years
1. Check your Roof
There are a considerable amount of questions to ask yourself when making a decision on which solar panel system is right for your home. Consider the way your roof is slanted. South-facing roofs are the most productive for solar, followed by west-facing and then east-facing roofs. North-facing roofs are the least desirable for solar, however they can still be used with reverse-tilted racking systems. If your roof is shaded however, then the sun won’t be hitting the panels and processing energy. Consider saying goodbye to that beautiful tree in your backyard if the shadow it casts is large.
Consider also the size of your roof - an average residential solar system is five kilowatts in size which is equivalent to 20 panels. You’ll need about 100 square feet of area per kilowatt of solar system. The ideal angle for solar panels is 30 degrees, but they can be installed on roofs ranging from zero to 45 degrees. Solar panels for flat roofs are installed on tilted racks. It is also easiest to install solar panels on asphalt shingles or corrugated metal roofs; putting them on slate or tile roofs is more complex and could be costlier. Keeping these points in mind, the solar company you decide to go with will give you an estimate of how much power that system is going to produce based on the weather in the region, the angle of your roof, ordinal orientation, and the size of the system.
2. Estimate Your Solar Electricity Needs
Before starting the process of powering your home with solar energy, homeowners should investigate their energy use and consider potential efficiency upgrades. Homeowners should be well aware of their total electricity usage and consider low-cost and easy-to-implement efficiency measures before choosing solar. A home energy audit can help you understand where your home is losing energy and what steps to take to improve the efficiency of your home. If you use electricity to heat and cool your home, your heating and cooling needs will significantly affect the amount of solar energy you need. Weatherizing your home and heating and cooling efficiently will reduce the amount of electricity you need to produce with solar. Overall, review monthly electricity bills to determine annual electricity needs - your usage should be shown in kilowatt-hours (kWh) - and consider any planned changes such as purchasing an electric vehicle, planned home additions as well as family additions. Have a good understanding of how solar works to help you figure out your bill. If you are continuing to make significant changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency, you may need less electricity than you used in the past.
3. Assess Your Solar Potential
Assess the potential solar energy that can be produced at your address. Because PV technologies use both direct and scattered sunlight to create electricity, the solar resource across the United States is ample for home solar electric systems. You can also use a PV calculator to estimate the energy product and performance of potential PV installations. Several other mapping services and tools are available to help you determine your home’s solar energy potential - some offer information on the estimated system size, potential costs and savings, and local contractors. All of these are excellent for determining whether your home is suitable for solar or not. If you are in Northern or Central California you should work directly with a trusted resource like All On Electric & Solar who can provide an accurate assessment of your solar potential as well as detailed recommendations, estimates, and equipment expertise.
4. Money Options
The standard five-kilowatt system costs an average of about $11,000 - $16,000 after federal tax credit. If you can afford it, buy your solar panels outright so that you can get the biggest return on your investment. If not, you can get a solar loan. Solar leasing is available in about half the states; the company installs solar panels for you in exchange for letting it collect your government incentives. The problem is, when those years are over, you don’t own anything. Either the company will remove the solar panels or you still have to buy them. We rarely recommend leasing to our customers, check our article here for more information.
5. Look into Available Financing and Incentives
Small solar energy systems are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit through 2019. If you opt for a solar lease or power-purchase agreement, remember that you will not eligible for this tax benefit, since you will not own the solar energy system. Solar panels are more valuable to you if you live somewhere with high electricity rates such as PG&E territory, which levies some of the highest electric fees in the nation.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides a map of electric rates so you can see how your state compares. Confirm by looking at the rate per kilowatt hour on your bill. You can look up your state in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to see if your state offers their own incentives on top of the federal tax credit. Thirty-eight states and the District, including California, offer net metering which means that if you generate more electricity than you need, the power company will buy it back from you. Roughly 30 states plus the District require companies to generate a portion of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar. SREC stands for solar renewable energy certificate, and for every 1,000-kilowatt hours of solar power you generate, you earn one SREC which you can sell to the power companies. In addition to incentives, be sure to explore all of the available solar financing options. The Clean Energy State Alliance guide helps homeowners understand their options, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each; visit the Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar for more financing options or contact All On Electric & Solar for more information.
Are You Considering Solar for Your Home or Business?
If you are located in Northern California or Central California, All On Electric & Solar experts are here for you. We will walk you through the process with no pressure, giving you the best solution for your energy usage and financial situation. You can start reducing your electricity bill and producing your own renewable energy by installing solar panels for your home or business. Knowing your options can save you thousands on unnecessary equipment and allow you to make the right decision. Let us help you make the right decision for you. Contact All On Electric & Solar now for your free energy audit!