Solar energy is a clean and renewable source of energy. It is an alternative to fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources.
Solar energy is harnessed from the sun through photovoltaic (PV) technology. PV solar panels convert the sun’s energy into direct current electricity that can be used for home or commercial purposes.
Solar panels are relatively cheap and easy to install, making them an attractive option for homeowners and businesses looking to save money on monthly utility bills. Installing solar panels can also help reduce the carbon footprint on our planet by eliminating the dependency on fossil fuels.
In the following article, we will discuss how one can choose the right type of solar panel and the process of planning a home solar system:
Why A Solar System?
For most people, installing a solar system is to save money. It’s a way to reduce electricity bills and reduce carbon footprint.
However,there are other reasons as well:
The average homeowner in New York State spends about $1,200 per year on electricity. If one can take that number down by even $200 or $300 per year, it’s worth it.
Reduces The Carbon Footprint
It’s not just saving money but reducing the environmental impact too. And that feels good!
Being Green and Clean Energy Friendly
Going solar is the ultimate way to be “green” and care about the environment while helping us all move towards a sustainable future.
It Gives One Control Over Electricity
When generating power, one can use it at any time, not when the utility company decides to deliver it. This level of control can be especially advantageous during peak demand hours when electricity rates tend to be higher.
The System Increases Home Value
The average cost of installing residential rooftop solar is about $25,000, so if one is considering selling a home soon, consider installing solar panels before listing them for sale. According to national realtor data, homes with rooftop solar sell faster and command higher prices than those without them.
It Can Qualify for Tax Breaks and Cash Incentives
The federal government offers a 26 percent tax credit for residential solar systems, scheduled to decrease to 22 percent in 2024. States like Washington state also provide incentives, such as cash rebates or renewable energy credits (RECs). These incentives make solar a more affordable investment.
Simple Steps for Planning a Home Solar System
Below are various step to help in Planning a Home Solar System:
Investigate A Home’s Energy Efficiency
If considering a home solar system, consider several things before getting started.
Investigate the home’s energy efficiency first. If it’s an older home with drafty windows and inefficient appliances, switching to solar power may not be worth it. Also, to save money on utility bills and reduce the carbon footprint, installing a solar panel system might be the right choice.
The best way to determine if solar panels are suitable for a home is to get an estimate from a local qualified solar installer. We assess the property and give feedback if we think it’s possible to generate enough electricity with a home solar panel system.
Evaluate The Solar Capacity and Any Restrictions
The first step in planning a solar installation is to evaluate the solar capacity and any restrictions.
To assess a solar potential, one needs to know the following:
This includes the latitude and longitude of where one lives and the average amount of sunlight received per day during peak hours (usually midday). The information can generally be obtained from the local utility company or weather station.
Solar panels are most efficient when facing south, so this will be one of the first things to consider when deciding where to put them. If the roof faces another direction, one may still be able to install solar panels, but they won’t perform as efficiently as those facing south.
Certain materials reflect sunlight, which reduces the amount of sunlight absorbed by the panels and can affect their performance — especially at certain times of day or year when sunlight is more intense (such as summer afternoons). Remember when choosing what roofing material to use on the house or garage.
Estimate a Home’s Solar Electricity Needs
Here are some tips to help estimate the size of a solar system:
Estimate the home’s electricity use
One can find this information on the utility bill or call them and ask for an estimate. For a home that uses a lot of electricity, it might be better to use a more extensive system than a smaller one. A more comprehensive plan will produce more power for less money over time.
Make a monthly power system production decision
A typical household needs about 3 kilowatts (kW) per month when it’s sunny and about 1 kW when it’s cloudy or winter. Check out this calculator from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to track the users online.
The suitability of a property for solar power installation and the appropriate size system for the home and budget can be ascertained by selecting a reputable installer or contractor with local installation experience.
Obtain Bids and Site Assessments From Contractors
When planning a home solar system, getting bids from contractors and site assessments from local utility companies is essential.
Bids and assessments can help determine the project’s cost, and the amount of electricity one can generate.
- Obtain bids from contractors. A contractor typically provides a bid for the entire project, including installation and maintenance costs. It’s vital to offer separate proposals for different project parts, such as labor, materials, and equipment. One can then compare bids to see which provides the best value for every dollar.
- The Department of Energy recommends getting at least three bids from qualified contractors before deciding on one. Ask each contractor about their experience with similar projects in the area to estimate how much work will be required on a specific property.
- Get site assessments from local utilities. Before installing a solar array on any property, contact local utility companies to ask about available incentives or rebates for installing certain types of systems that meet specific criteria. The criteria include being located on a south-facing roof or designed for maximum energy generation). Some utility companies may even offer free site assessments.
Understand Available Financing and Incentives
Before going solar, it’s essential to understand the available options. The most common way to purchase a solar system is for cash upfront or with a loan. Lease and “power purchase” agreements that provide financial benefits are great options.
The most common way to purchase a solar system is for cash up front. A typical residential installation costs between $15,000 and $30,000 before incentives (not including labor), depending on the size of the system. With this option, owners can pay all the money upfront in one lump sum and own the system outright after it’s installed and paid off.
Loan financing from a bank or other financial institution is an additional popular choice. Homeowners who want to go solar sooner rather than later can use this option to save the money needed for a down payment on a solar system.
The installer will typically help connect customers with a lender who can provide competitive rates for those with a good credit history and income verification, or it will arrange financing through one of its partners. Make sure the installer has experience working with lenders if one is interested in this option—not all do!
Assess The Options for Going Solar
The first step to going solar is assessing the current energy usage and determining if solar makes sense. The most common way people go solar is by installing a grid-tied rooftop system. This system uses the existing electricity grid to send power back into it when the sun isn’t shining.
There are other ways to use solar power, including off-grid systems (in which a home generates its electricity) or community-shared systems that serve multiple properties. In these cases, an installer may recommend a different type of system.
Working with an installer and utility to install the system and set up agreements.
After deciding on a type of solar panel installation, work with an installation company such as SolarCity or Sunrun to install the panels and connect the homeowners to a home’s electrical systems. The installer will also help determine what size system makes sense for the property and secure it with a utility company so homeowners can receive credit for any excess energy they produce.
In conclusion, the benefits of solar power are undeniable. Technology is improving all the time, and costs are falling fast. As a result, more and more people are choosing to make homes “greener” by installing solar panels on roofs. Anyone thinking about going solar, there’s no need to wait any longer – do it today!