What Homeowners Need To Consider Before Installing Solar Panels

Solar Panels

There’s never been a better time to make the switch to solar panels. If you’re keen to do your bit to combat climate change, this green technology can help you reduce your carbon footprint. What’s more, it’s a surefire way of safeguarding yourself against energy price hikes. A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration revealed that residential consumers were paying $137 a month for electricity. However, before you can start reaping the benefits of solar panels, you need to consider whether they’re the right choice for your home.

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What’s the Condition of Your Roof?

Before installing a solar panel system, you need Solar Panel Installers Brighton to determine whether your roof is fit for purpose. Any roof repairs will need to be taken care of before solar panels can be installed. If your roof came with a warranty, check how long this lasts. Some solar panels come with warranties of 20 years or longer. If your current roof is only expected to last half that time, you’re looking at some pretty expensive disassembly down the line.

The shape and slope of your roof is also important. Compact roofs can accommodate a few panels, but if space is at a premium, a rooftop installation might not be cost-effective. Roof slopes can also limit your options. In both cases, ground-mounted solar panels are a worthwhile alternative.

Sunlight Hours

Solar panels can harvest energy and produce electricity, even in cloudy conditions. However, the location of your home and the climate you’re exposed to play a major role in the effectiveness of them. Determining peak sunlight hours will give you a good idea of how much electricity your system will be able to generate. In Arizona, cities like Phoenix receive an average of 6.58 peak sun hours. In Los Angeles, peak sun hours average out at 5.62. Head to the east coast, and things look a little different. In Richmond, Virginia, peak sun hours average out at 4.13.

Just because you live in a city that receives relatively few peak sun hours, doesn’t mean you can’t unlock the potential of solar technology. However, it will play a role in the size and configuration of your system.

Your Energy Requirements

In the United States, the average home uses around 10,632 kWh of electricity every year. It’s a good idea to have a handle on just how much electricity you’re using before you commit to a solar panel installation. In typical conditions, a single 400-watt solar panel can generate around 730 kWh annually. Therefore, you’ll need around 15 panels to meet your annual demand. If your home won’t accommodate such a system, you’ll still need to depend on the grid or alternative energy sources.

How Much Do They Cost?

The cost of solar panels can vary significantly. However, most homeowners should expect to pay around $16,000 for a standard system. If you plan on staying in your current property for many years, spending a little more on an advanced system is a sound long-term investment.

You can even offset the cost of installing solar panels by exploring financial incentives and tax breaks. American homeowners can take advantage of the Ferderal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics. Any installation completed before 2032 is eligible for a 30% tax credit. Certain states like Texas and California also offer additional solar incentives.

What About Permits and Planning Permissions?

Most homeowners will need to secure a permit before installing a solar system. Guidelines vary between states and cities. As well as obtaining approval from local authorities, you may need to secure permission from homeowner associations. To streamline the process, you’ll need to include detailed plans and location specifics as part of your application. This seems complicated, but many solar installers will help homeowners navigate local regulations.

Storing and Selling Surplus Solar Energy

If your solar panel system is generating more electricity than you’re actually using, you have a couple of options. If you’re willing to spend a little more on the outlay for your system, it makes sense to invest in a battery. With a battery, you can turn to your stored surplus, rather than draw electricity from the grid. What’s more, you’re protected in the event of a power cut.

Surplus electricity can even be sold back to the grid, generating a modest profit. However, this requires net energy metering. This billing system streamlines the process of sending surplus electricity to the grid, but it’s not available everywhere. States like Alabama and Tennessee have yet to adopt any formal net metering policies. Meanwhile, sunshine-rich California recently introduced NEM 3.0 billing, which will significantly limit export rates for solar customers.

Are Solar Panels a Worthwhile Investment?

In most cases, solar panels are a cost-effective way of reducing your carbon footprint and lowering your energy bills. However, you’ll need to consider the condition of your roof and any preliminary works that need to be carried out. Planning approvals and waiting for permits can also slow things down. You’ll also need to determine your energy requirements. This will give you a clear idea of the kind of system you need. Finally, weigh up the costs versus benefits. Spending a premium on an expansive system with battery storage makes sense if you plan on staying put. However, it’s worth holding off if you plan on relocating in a couple of years.