Solar panels for the home are no longer a flashy trend. Homeowners understand the true value of switching to a residential solar panel system.
More than 2 million homes in the U.S. have solar panels installed. If you’re trying to prepare for your new system, check out these 8 tips for planning your residential solar panel installation.
1. Consider Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
How energy efficient is your home right now? You’ll need an idea of this answer before starting the process of switching to solar energy.
Homeowners need to perform a thorough investigation of their current energy to see what potential there is to improve the process. You should also note that your total electricity usage could impact your ability to convert to solar.
Check into other low-cost ways to get more energy-efficient so you have something to compare solar to. Here are a few examples to think about.
Home Energy Audit
You can perform a home energy audit to see where you are losing the most energy in your home. Are the steps to improve your energy efficiency easy?
If so, weigh the cost of switching to a residential solar panel system before making the investment.
If you use your appliances more than the average family, you might want to switch over your product to energy-efficient models. It’s much easier on a solar panel system.
Heating and Cooling
One of the top factors for your residential solar panel system is how efficiently you use heating and air. Your system might overpower an entry-level solar panel system.
Get recommendations from a reputable dealer like blue raven solar to get cost-effective solutions.
2. What is Your Solar Potential?
Look into the how much solar energy can actually be created at your home address. There are mapping services that can help you track your solar potential.
These services measure how much of the sun’s energy can reach the residential solar panel system in your home. Getting these questions answered ahead of time can help you manage your expectations before the install.
3. Discover New Options
You don’t have to be a homeowner to benefit from a residential solar panel system. Many renters can also benefit from leasing solar energy instead of owning it outright.
Additional options include shared community solar panels and solar programs. Check into the options available in your area if you’re not ready to make the commitment of owning your own residential solar panel system.
4. Get a Variety of Bids
As with any major home installation, it’s important to get multiple bids before settling on a vendor. Three bids is a good rule of thumb when pricing your installation.
Don’t shy away from companies you think you can’t afford. You might be pleasantly surprised by the amount of value you can get from bigger, more experienced companies.
Their quotes are also more likely to be detailed which means you can compare pricing much easier when looking at other bids. Guard against using any company simply based on price.
All solar panel installation teams should have the necessary licensing and insurance to do business in your area.
5. Research Financing and Incentives
Residential solar panel systems are a gift that keeps on giving. Not only can you reduce your energy usage, but you also get incentives for switching to solar.
While these are checks deposited into your bank account, tax credits reduce your tax liability by thousands of dollars. As of 2020, the tax credit for small solar energy systems is 26 percent.
You can also look into financing options if you aren’t able to pay for the system outright. The Clean Energy States Alliance guide can be helpful in exploring the countless options there are for a new system before you make a financial commitment.
Use the Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar for a deep dive into solar panel financing for your home.
6. What Are Your Electricity Needs?
Set up a visit with a contractor to get a better understanding of your existing electrical system. What size and type are you working with?
Look at your past electricity bills to learn your usage history. It’ll be shown in kilowatt-hours on your monthly bills.
Getting an annual estimate of your kilowatt-hours is the key to planning out your options for the future like whether or not you’ll be able to charge an electric car.
7. Get Permits
Partner with your installation team to make sure all your permitting documents are in place. There are no improvements you can make to your home without getting permission from the city.
The permitting process is usually very slow so be sure to get started early so you don’t delay your installation team. The installer will select a type and size solar panel system that works best for the position of the sun and the energy usage of your home.
Depending on the size of your residential solar panel system, you might need more permits than someone with minimal usage.
8. Understand Net Metering
Very few residential solar panel systems are completely ‘off-grid.’ Being off-grid means you don’t have an electric bill at all.
More likely, you’ll benefit from net metering which is an incentive that gives you bill credits if your solar system produces too much electricity. Net metering requires that you’re connected to the local power grid in order for you to benefit from this service.
Planning for a Residential Solar Panel System
Planning for a residential solar panel system can take months depending on the vendor you choose. Many solar panel installation companies are versed in things like permitting, teaming up with the utility companies, and measuring your energy usage.
Choose an experienced team if it’s your first time dealing with solar. You’ll save time, money, and headaches in the long run.
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