Solar panels can be a great way to save money on your electricity bill, but there are a few things you should know before making the switch.
In this article, we have prepared an essential checklist of questions to ask yourself before going solar.
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What Questions to Ask About Solar Panels
There are two types of questions which you need to ask about solar panels. The first type of questions should be for your pre-research phase on gathering as much information as possible. The second type of question should be the one to direct to the installing company.
Through these types of questions, you will be able to judge what could be the best choice for you.
So, let’s start with a listing of some pre-research questions.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Going Solar?
There are many pros and cons to going solar.
Some of the pros include:
- Saving money
Solar panels can save you money on your electricity bill by offsetting the cost of traditional energy usage.
- Environmentally friendly
Solar panels are also good for the environment because they reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Solar panels produce zero emissions, which means they don’t contribute to air pollution or global warming. In fact, according to the EPA, a single residential solar panel can offset the carbon dioxide emissions from driving a car for about 1,000 miles.
- Increasing your home value
Solar panels can also increase the value of your home. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that homes with solar-panel systems sold for an average of 4.1% more than homes without solar-panel systems.
Some of the cons include:
- The initial cost of installation – Solar panels can be expensive to install. However, there are many financing options and tax credits available to help offset the initial utility costs, and the long-term savings on your electricity bill.
- Maintenance cost – Solar panels require very little maintenance, but they will eventually need to be replaced. When they do need to be replaced, the cost will be much lower than the initial installation cost since solar technology has become more advanced and less expensive over time.
- A sunny location – North-facing roofs, with no shading from trees or other buildings, get the most sunlight and are the best location for solar panels. If your roof doesn’t receive direct sunlight for most of the day, you may not be a good candidate for solar panels.
How Much Electricity Do I Use?
The first step in going solar is to understand your electricity consumption and what is your utility rates. Check your past electricity bills for at least a year to get an accurate estimate.
If you are unable to find this information, you can also contact your utility company.
How Much Sunlight Does My House Get?
The average home in the United States uses about 914 kWh per month.
But, of course, this number will be different for everyone and will vary depending on components such as how big your house is, what kind of weather you have in the area you leave throughout the year, and how much you use appliances like air conditioners and heaters.
To get a more accurate estimate for your home, you can use a solar calculator.
What Is My Solar Potential?
After you know how much electricity you use and how much sunlight your home receives, you can start to estimate your solar potential.
Many online solar calculators can help you with this.
Input your information and see how much you could save by going solar.
You can also check out our Solar Savings Estimator.
What Is my Geographical Location?
Your geographical location will also play a role in how much money you can save by going solar.
For example, if you live in a state with high electricity rates, you will likely see a bigger return on investment (ROI) than someone who lives in a state with lower rates.
The same goes for states with incentives or rebates for solar panel installation.
You can use the DSIRE database to see what solar incentives are available in your state.
Are There Any HOA/Deed Restrictions?
Before you hire a solar installation company, it’s important to check if there are any Homeowners Association (HOA) or Deed restrictions in your neighborhood.
Some HOAs have rules about the size, shape, and colour of solar panel installations, so it’s best to check with your HOA first.
You can also look up your deed restrictions online or contact your local planning and zoning department.
What Is the Payback Period for Solar Panels?
Solar power system generally has a payback period of 5-10 years.
This means that it will take 5-10 years for you to see a return on your investment. You can use a solar calculator to estimate your payback period.
What Happens If I Move/Sell House(s)?
If you move house(s) before your solar panels’ cost is paid off, you can either transfer the lease or purchase the system from the current owner.
If you decide to transfer the lease, the new homeowner will assume responsibility for the remaining payments.
If you purchase the system, you can take it with you or sell it to the new homeowner.
How Much Energy Do I Use?
Your electricity usage is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
To calculate your kWh, take your monthly electricity bill and divide it by the number of days in the month.
For example, if your monthly bill is $100 and there are 30 days in the month, your daily usage would be 3.33 kWh.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
The number of solar panels you need depends on your electricity usage, the amount of sunlight your location gets, and the size of your roof.
A 5kW system, which is the average size for a residential home, will typically require 20-30 solar panels.
What Is the Average Monthly Temperature Where I Live?
The solar system works best when the temperature is between 20-25 degrees Celsius (68-77 degrees Fahrenheit).
If you live in an area with a lot of extreme temperatures, your panels may not work as efficiently.
How Much Does Solar Panel Installation Cost?
The cost of solar panel installation can vary on what solar panel you choose for your home. If you have a big home, you may need more solar panels to generate enough electricity to feed your home and vice-versa.
Another factor may be the type of panels you choose to install and if you will higher solar installers, as certified energy practitioners to install your home solar system.
So you can consider taking advantage of these two factors the cost of a solar installer and the number of solar panels installed while you do your calculation.
You can use a solar calculator and get a solar quote to get more accurate utility cost estimations for your home.
What Is Net Metering?
Net metering is a program that allows you to sell the excess electricity that your solar panels produce back to the utility company.
This can help offset the cost of your monthly electric bill.
Does My Roof Get Enough Sunlight?
Your solar panels need direct sun exposure to work efficiently, so shading from trees or other buildings can reduce their output.
If you live in an area with a lot of shading, you may need a solar installer to install more panels to make up for the reduced output.
Do I Need to Replace My Roof Before Installing Solar Panels?
It is not necessary to replace your roof before installing solar panels, but it may be a good idea to do so if your roof is in poor condition or if you need additional panels.
So, hire a solar company, A new roof will also increase the value of your home and you will contribute to reducing your carbon footprint.
Will Solar Power Be My Only Source of Electricity? Will My Home Still Be Connected to the Grid?
If you install solar panels, you will still be connected to the grid.
A solar system can supplement your energy needs, but it is not typically enough to completely feed a home.
You may need to invest in backup energy sources, such as a generator if you want to be completely independent of the grid.
What Happens If My Panels Produce More Energy Than Needed?
It’s an extremely important problem as it doesn’t waste any of its energy! If a home is producing extra energy, that energy is pumped into its grids and credited to your utility bill.
Those are the net meters! The power from the home can go into storing the battery, or saving it if they are running out of power.
How Do I Store Solar Power for Later Use?
Solar power can be stored in several ways, including battery storage, fuel cells, and thermal storage.
The solar battery is the most common way to store solar energy. They can be used to feed your home during a power outage or to supplement your electricity usage when rates are high.
Fuel cells and thermal storage are less common but can also be used to store excessive energy. Fuel cells convert the chemical energy of a fuel, such as natural gas, into electricity.
Thermal storage uses heat to store solar energy in the form of hot water or steam.
What Is the Best Type of Solar Panel for Me?
The best type of solar panel for you depends on your budget, your needs, and the amount of sunlight your location gets.
If you are looking for the most efficient option, monocrystalline panels are the best choice.
If you are working with a tight budget, polycrystalline panels may be a better option.
How Much Does Solar Panel Maintenance Cost?
Solar panel maintenance costs typically are very very low.
Most solar systems have a 25-year warranty, and they do not require much cleaning or upkeep.
The main cost of solar panel maintenance is usually the cost of replacing batteries every 5-10 years.
Am I Able to Install Solar Panels Myself or Do I Need to Hire a Professional?
The installation process of a brand new roof is considered a simple process, but it is important to follow the instructions carefully.
If you are not comfortable working with tools or electricity, it is best to hire a professional.
Hiring a professional solar contractor will also ensure that your solar panels are installed correctly and meet all local building codes.
Once you get all the details from your own research of what works best for you, go ahead with the home improvement and contact a solar company and ask the below questions.
Questions About Solar Installers
Ask some questions and get the most efficient product for your money.
Typically for most homeowners, the installation of solar systems is done using a brand with good warranties and longevity, however, it’s worth examining every time.
You must have confidence that everything you put on your roof will last a long time and compare well to those that exist today.
Luckily SolarReviews has actual customer reviews about several factors such as solar panels, inverters and batteries.
This means that the installer should tell you what equipment the installer will use on your roof space.
So, here’s the list of some questions (including replies from satisfied customers)to ask regarding solar energy.
- How long has the company been in the solar industry? “We’ve been in business for over 10 years.”
- What is the company’s Better Business Bureau rating? “Our company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.”
- Are the solar panels American-made? “Yes, the solar production company is based in the USA.”
- What is the warranty on the equipment? “Our equipment comes with a 25-year warranty.”
- What is the output of solar system size in kilowatts (kW)? “Our solar energy system has an output of up to 315 watts per panel.”
- What is the efficiency of solar panels? “Our solar panels have an efficiency of up to 22.5%.”
- What is the price per watt? “The price per watt is $0.70.”
- How much will the system cost? “if you considering buying solar panels then it will cost $10,000 to $15,000.”
- How much will I save on my electric bill? “You will save an average of 20% on your energy bills.”
- What is the payback period?“The payback period is 5 to 10 years.”
- Do you have any experience working with my local utility company? “Yes, we have worked with your local utility company in the past.
- What is the return on investment (ROI)? “The ROI is 20%.”
- What are the tax incentives? “The federal tax credit is 30%, and the state tax credit is 10%.”
- What are the rebates? “The rebates are $0.50 per watt.”
- What are the financing options? “Well, you can lease solar panels, we offer loans and leases with 0% down and no money out of pocket.”
- How long will it take to install? “The solar installations will take 2 to 3 days to install.”
- What is the maintenance required? “The only maintenance required is to keep the panels clean.”
- What happens if the power goes out? “Your solar system will continue to produce energy, and you will still have power.”
- Do I need a backup battery? “No, you do not need a backup battery.”
- What is the life of the batteries? “The life of the batteries is 10 years.”
- Do solar companies offer references from other customers? “Yes, we would be happy to provide you with references from other customers.”
- What are the system performance guarantees? “We offer a 5% performance guarantee.”
- What is the monitoring system? “We offer a monitoring system that allows you to see your energy production and usage.”
The information you will receive from both types of questions, either from your pre-search questions or from the questions to the installer, will help you decide what fits best for you.