Have you been considering installing solar panels on your home or business? There are plenty of great reasons for making the move to solar power. Homeowners and businesses can reduce their energy bills, increase the value of their property, and reduce their carbon footprint through the use of renewable energy.
However, installing solar panels shouldn’t be a snap decision. For a lot of people, this could be one of the most expensive decisions they make in a lifetime. Many are unaware of the considerations and complexities of the installation process. And it may seem daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the steps involved. It’s important to understand if installing solar panels is the right decision for your home or business in order to make a wise financial decision.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of installing solar panels and provide some tips to help you make the most of your investment.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Property’s Solar Potential
Before you start installing solar panels, it’s important to determine if your property is right for solar. Many factors can affect the performance of your solar panels. Some of these include roof orientation, shading, weather patterns, and the cost of electricity in your region.
Start by considering the cost of energy in your area. The higher the cost of electricity, the more money you’re likely to save. Make sure that you understand the breakdown of your utility bill to determine the actual expense of electricity. Remember, electricity, gas, water, and city services are separate charges. It’s important to check with your utility company about their net metering policy, too.
The amount of energy you actually use is an important factor to consider, as well. If you drive electric vehicles, have a backyard pool, or regularly use equipment that requires a lot of electricity, solar panels can be a great way to lower those costs. These issues could also determine the number of solar panels that you need.
Identifying the areas of your property that receive the most sunlight throughout the day is essential. If your property is heavily shaded or you live in an area in which the weather routinely affects the amount of sunlight you receive, installing solar panels may not be the best fit. Ideally, your solar panels should face south or southwest and be installed on a roof that’s free from shading.
You should also think about the potential costs and savings associated with installing solar panels. These can include the upfront installation costs, the need for battery storage, ongoing maintenance costs, and energy savings over time. If you do a bit of homework on your own, you can make sure you’re an informed consumer. It may also help you understand what questions to ask your installer.
For a comprehensive overview, check out the Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar from energy.gov
Step 2: Choose a Reputable Solar Installer
Once you’ve evaluated your property’s solar potential, it’s time to choose a solar installer. Look for a company that has experience installing solar panels on properties similar to yours and that uses high-quality equipment. You can also check for state licensure and certifications to ensure that your installer is qualified to do the job. A great installation company will offer a free consultation and quote. The should also walk you through the processes of installation, financing, maintenance, and warranties.
Selecting a local installer is a wise choice because they know the area well and have committed to serving the needs of their community. They should also be able to provide you with a list of homeowners and businesses who have used their services in your area and can attest to their service and quality. Check to see if they have a showroom, as well, with employees on the floor who can answer your questions and provide valuable education on going solar.
For more information about choosing the right solar installer, click HERE.
Step 3: Obtain Permits and Financing for Installing Solar Panels
Before you start installing solar panels, you’ll need to obtain the necessary permits, inspections, and financing. Your solar installer can help you navigate the permit process and ensure that your system meets local building codes. Factors like the condition of your roof and the orientation of your roofline can affect this process, so make sure to discuss these issues with your installer.
Most likely, you’ll need a solar inspection both before and after you install your solar panels. Your property’s electrical system needs to be able to handle the addition of solar. Additionally, your roof needs to be able to handle the weight of the panels and racking equipment.
Financing options for solar panels include cash purchases, solar loans, and leasing agreements. A quality solar installer should offer various financing solutions tailored to the needs of their customers. This includes explaining the intricacies of both the federal and state tax incentives that could offset your costs. Carefully consider the pros and cons of your options and choose the one that works best for your budget and goals.
To discover additional options for solar financing, click HERE.
Step 4: The Process of Installing Solar Panels
With the permits and financing in place, it’s time to install your solar panels. The installation process itself typically takes one to three days, depending on the size of your system, and you probably don’t even have to be at home during this time. Your installer can also provide guidance on how to prepare your property for the installation process to minimize any disruptions. However, it is important to note that it could take 1-3 months for your system to be grid-connected and ready to produce electricity for your property given the necessary inspection process.
Your solar installer will first prep your roof for the installation. Next, they will attach the wiring that will connect your electrical panel and general wiring system. The racking is attached to your roof to support and hold the solar panels in place. They’ll then attach the solar panels to the racking and wire them to your property’s electrical system. Once the panels are installed, your installer will test the system and ensure that it’s functioning properly.
During the installation process, be sure to communicate with your solar installer and ask questions if you’re unsure about anything.
Step 5: Monitor and Maintain Your Solar Panels
After your solar panels are installed, it’s important to monitor and maintain them to ensure that they continue to perform well over time. Your solar installer can provide guidance on how to monitor your system’s energy production and detect any issues. You should also schedule regular maintenance visits with your installer to clean the panels and check for any damage or wear and tear. The good news is that the average lifespan of solar panels is 25-30 years. With minimal basic maintenance, they should last for decades.
Even after your installation is complete, it’s important to stay informed about any tax credits, rebates, or other incentives available to you. You can also consider adding additional features like battery storage to further reduce your energy bills and increase your energy independence.
For a specific list of solar panel maintenance considerations, click HERE.
Installing solar panels on your home or business can be a smart investment. It can provide long-term energy savings and benefits for the environment. By evaluating your property’s solar potential, choosing a qualified installer, obtaining the necessary permits and financing, and monitoring and maintaining your system, you can ensure that your solar panels perform well over time. With these steps in mind, you can confidently make the switch to solar.