Solar technology is promising, and there are a lot of good reasons to consider installing panels on your home. With an electric vehicle, you could effectively get free gas for life. Plus, lowering the electric bill always sounds nice. On top of that, solar panels can dramatically increase the value of your home.
But, solar installations are not simple, and the systems can be very complicated. There are some things that you will really want to know before you get serious about this idea.
Value Depends on Location
While solar can work in most places, the raw dollar value of the investment varies. You’re going to get more bang for your buck using solar in Phoenix, AZ, as compared to Cambridge, MA. That’s because the sun is brighter in Arizona, and residents there use the most power while the sun is up.
On top of that, very local things like which way your house faces and whether or not there are trees blocking the sun make a big difference. It helps a lot to learn about how much you can get out of your solar panels before you make any serious commitments.
Roofing Gets Complicated
You want your roof to be in top shape before any solar installations, mainly for two reasons. First, you need a hearty roof to safely hold the panels. It’s that simple.
The second issue is that repairing the roof under your solar panels is a lot more complicated. Usually, the panels have to be removed before the roof is accessible. So, you want a roof with a nice, long lifespan before you install solar.
Your Power Needs
Solar systems are customized for each home. To get that customization correct, you need a good idea of your power needs. Otherwise, you might overspend on too many panels, or you might get too few panels and not have enough to power the home.
Most solar installers will work with you to review your electric bills to get a good idea of how much power you need in the solar system. It’s important to take the time to understand that part of the deal before you take out any solar loans.
Payment Assistance Options
Solar is expensive — like take-out-a-second-mortgage levels of expensive. But, you don’t have to pay for everything out of your own pocket. There are still a lot of rebate and credit programs to help you pay for a solar installation, and they exist at federal, state, and local levels.
There are too many programs to list them all here, but you can find a lot of resources available through your state’s department of energy. It’s certainly nice to know what kind of payment assistance is available before you sign any contracts.
The last thing you really want to understand is the solar lifecycle, which involves a lot. Who fixes the panels if something is wrong? Where do they go when they are eventually too old (usually 20 to 30 years after installation)? What are the warranties on the system? How much productivity can you expect over their lifespan?
These are all important questions, and the solar provider can usually answer them. Make sure to have those conversations early.