A home with solar panels is one of the most cost-effective investments you can make. You should think about how you can get the most out of your investment before you make a long-term commitment.
There are many things to consider, including local electricity costs and choosing a reliable solar installer.
We have created an in-depth guide to cover the 8 most important factors that you should consider before purchasing solar panels.
1. Local Electricity Rates
First, you need to determine if your home can be used for solar energy. The location of your home and how much you pay for electricity are the two most important factors in determining the effectiveness of solar panels and whether or not there will be significant savings.
For example, electricity costs in Massachusetts are $0.17 per kilowatt-hour, while it costs $0.11 per unit in Washington. Massachusetts homeowners are more likely to go solar because they pay more electricity and have higher monthly power bills.
This is a good example of how solar power can be used to save money. A solar system that produces 1,000 kWh in Massachusetts would save $170. In Washington, the same solar system would save $110.
In many states, there are also net-metering programs that pay homeowners who produce excess solar power. (We’ll talk more about this below).
Let’s take Massachusetts as an example to give you an idea of the process. Before going solar, the average monthly electricity bill in Massachusetts was $153. For a 5kW system, 600 kWh would be generated per month if you have solar panels installed on your roof.
You would save $102 per month. This scenario would result in a monthly power bill of $51 compared to $153 if you had no home solar.
2. What Amount Of Sunlight Is My Area Getting?
Photovoltaic panels, or PV, require adequate sunlight to produce electricity. They prefer sunny outdoor conditions. Solar panels can generate enough electricity to power your home if your area gets four to five hours per day of direct sunlight.
What happens if there isn’t much sun exposure in your area? Solar could still be an option, even though it isn’t often seen. Solar panels can still work even on cloudy days but at a lower output level. You would need to have a larger system to meet these conditions.
A 300-watt panel of solar energy in Massachusetts would normally produce 0.9kWh per day. However, the same panel in Arizona would produce 2.25kWh per day.
Solar panels work best at 77 degrees Fahrenheit and lower. These conditions make it ideal for solar panels in cool and mild climates, such as San Francisco.
3. Are Solar Panels Compatible With My Roof?
Solar panels should face south and be tilted at an angle. This is determined by your geographic location and the season. To maximize sunlight intake, your roof pitch should be between 30 and 45 degrees.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a south-facing roof. Many homeowners don’t have a south-facing roof and still see huge savings in their electric bills.
The solar panel output tends to balance across seasons so even if your roof pitch has a low pitch, it can still generate plenty of power. A steep roof produces more power in the winter, but a shallow roof is better for the summer months.
You can also install solar panels even if your roof is completely flat.
You can install a ground mount system on your roof if it isn’t suitable.
Find out more: Is my roof suitable for solar power What are the 4 most important things that installers should consider?
4. What is the cost of a solar panel system?
The cost of solar is on the decline and this trend will continue over the next few years. The average cost of a residential solar system is $12,000 for a 4-kW installation and $24,000 for an eight-kW unit before rebates and incentives are taken into consideration.
You are not only paying for the equipment but also the labor and permit costs.
- Solar panels
- If you decide to install one, the battery
- Mounting, racking, and meters
The solar panel is one of the most important components of a solar-powered system. Prices for solar panels can vary depending on the level of efficiency and technology used, as well as whether they are made by Tier 1 brands.
Although Tier 1 panels are more expensive than Tier 2, they are usually worth the extra cost. Learn more about the differences between Tier 1 and Tier 2 brands of solar panels.
There are two types of residential solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are more expensive than polycrystalline but the difference is only $.10 per watt. They are also more aesthetic and perform better than polycrystalline panels, making them the most popular type of solar panel on the market.
You can add batteries to your solar PV system as an optional accessory. They are used to store energy during power outages and nighttime. The price of solar batteries ranges from $200 to $15,000. It depends on several factors, including the technology used and the capacity.
Mounting, Racking, And Meters
Racking and mounting components are used for securing solar panels to your roof at a certain angle in order to maximize sunlight intake. Hardware is the small pieces, screws, and attachments that join the mounting system. These components come in a bundle and are seldom purchased separately.
Meters monitor the system closely. To facilitate net metering, you will have a bidirectional net meter. To track generated power, PV meters can be used in one-way units. Consumption meters monitor energy consumption.
An inverter is a key component of a solar power plant. You will have one of these installed:
- String inverter
- DC power optimizer
- Hybrid Inverter
Each inverter type has its own advantages and disadvantages and a different price. In our Solar inverter buyer’s manual, you can find out more about each type of inverter and which one is right for you.
Prices for installation vary depending on the quality and experience of the solar installer. It’s a smart idea to ask for quotes from local companies when choosing a solar company. They are more likely to be able to handle any issues that may arise during your system’s operation.
It is important to choose a company for your solar installation. But, perhaps most importantly, it will ensure that you have a quality installation that lasts many years. Trusted solar installers are more reliable and offer longer warranties. This gives homeowners peace of mind over the long term.
See reviews about solar installers in your region.
The permit process is the most tedious part of a solar installation and can take up to three days to complete. The good news is that your installer will take care of the entire process.
Not only will you need to have the appropriate permits in each state, but also in every city. The following are the most common permits required for solar installations:
- Electrical permits – Also called an interconnection agreement, it requires approval by your local utility. This permit is required to ensure that your system meets the National Electric Code standards before you connect to the power grid.
- Building permits: These permits are issued by the Authority Having Jurisdiction for the construction or installation of your roof. You may need to hire someone to inspect your roof and make sure it is safe to mount solar panels.
A licensed electrician or contractor is authorized to conduct electrical work such as wiring and power connections. This license is not available to homeowners. To perform electrical work on your roof, your installer must have the appropriate certification or license.
All permits will cost you around $300. To reduce these costs, some states like Colorado have a $500 limit on residential solar permits.
This post was written by Daniel Massaad, owner and expert solar technician at Energy Solutions Direct! ESD Solar offers knowledgeable and efficient solar panel installation in Tampa FL! Our licensed and certified contractors are masters of their craft; with years of experience servicing the great Tampa Bay area and beyond, the choice is simple. ESD excels at offering you the best in solar value!