What To Know Before a Solar Installation
Solar energy excites many people with the promise of decreased electric bills and protecting the environment. But before you invest in solar panels for the home, there are a few things you should be aware of to make sure your investment is worthwhile.
1. Understand Your Utility Rates
Utilities offer multiple tiers of electricity rates depending on your location and your usage. Utilizing a cost formula, customers who use more energy will usually pay a higher rate. When you install solar power, you will not draw as much power from the grid so your overall rate will go decrease. When you look at your electricity bill, look at the rate you pay rather than total energy usage. The higher the rate you normally pay, the larger the returns you will gain from investing in solar.
2. Rebates v. Batteries
It is common to purchase a battery along with your solar system so that excess energy produced during the day can be stored to use at night. Additionally, if you choose to be connected to the grid, you will also be able to pull energy from your utility at times when your home solar panels are not are not producing energy, such as night. If fact, many state solar rebates are contingent on your solar power system being connected to the grid. However, unless you will be using solar energy at all hours, you probably will not have to worry about the battery.
3. Understand Your Electric Usage
Understanding your expected future energy usage is essential when purchasing the right solar system. If you plan on expanding your family or predict larger energy usage down the road, tell your solar installer. They will quote you on the correctly sized system, in order to efficiently serve your current and long term needs.
4. Property Tax Assessments
Property re-assessments are done when you refinance you home or perform a substantial home improvement (like installing a home energy system). Your property taxes may change as a result. In most states, solar panels are exempt from property taxes, but be sure to investigate your state’s policies before continuing forward.
5. Understand and Protect Your Investment
Understanding the maintenance requirements and warranties of each component of your system is an important part of protecting your solar investment. Investigate the solar warranties associated with your system and be sure to update your homeowner’s insurance to protect your system from natural disasters and fire.
6. Know Your Roof
Installation costs depend on a variety of factors, including what type of roof you have. Heavy tile roofs are much costlier to install a solar system on compared to a flat tar roof. For a roof made of difficult or unique materials, installation costs will be between 10-25% higher than normal. Discuss this with your solar provider as this may affect your payback period.
The Solar Installation Process:
Below is a summary of the major steps required during residential solar panel installation.
Step 1: A certified solar installer assesses your house. During this assessment, the qualified solar installer that you have hired will investigate your typical electric usage and evaluate your reasons for going solar. They will visit your house and examine your roof to determine what type of system to install, your roof’s installation compatibility, and determine your installation plan.
Step 2: The installer helps you secure rebates and finance your system. During the home assessment, your solar installer will discuss the rebates and financing available to you for your home solar power system. Professional installers are well versed in local rebates and will work with you to fill out the correct paperwork to ensure that you qualify for all available programs. Also, most installers will be able to help you secure solar financing for your solar energy system.
Step 3: The installer secures the necessary installation permits. Depending on your home’s location, some permits may be needed to begin installation. Installers are familiar with the permits and will be able to streamline the process and paperwork for you.
Step 4: Installation takes less than 72 hours. The installation process will take between one to three days to complete. It begins with mounting brackets securely to your roof, installing the solar panels and any additional necessary wiring, and finally connecting your system via an inverter to your home. They also will schedule any necessary inspections required for final system approval.
- Step 4a: Install the mounting brackets. The mounting brackets secure the solar panels to your roof to insure they don’t fall off or blow off in a wind-storm. Installers take particular care when installing brackets to avoid damaging your roof.
- Step 4b: Install the wiring. Wiring connects the panels to the inverter, which transforms direct current into alternating current. The inverter then connects to the electrical grid and home electrical system.
- Step 4c: Install the solar panels and connect the wiring. A licensed electrician will be used to connect the solar panels to the electrical panel.
- Step 4d: Schedule any necessary inspections. Typically, a county or city official will inspect the system to make sure it is up to code. This is the mark of final approval that allows your system to begin producing energy!
- Step 4e: Rebate Checks. About 6-8 weeks after final approval, your utility, the state, or the manufacturer will mail you your rebate checks. And don’t forget to take your federal tax credit for the year you install your home solar system!
**Interested in a $0 electric bill? Get a free solar assessment from pre-certified installers in your area here!**