What you need to know before installing rooftop solar panels

We all love technology and seeing what the new frontier really has to offer us. The solar market can be seen as a part of that “new” frontier with all sorts of progressive and efficient possibilities. The great stumbling block though is that the newness of this technology means that there are few who know the “do’s” and the “don’ts” in purchasing solar energy. Investing in solar panels is a lot like buying a car, except not nearly as many people have done it, and the group that has experienced a whole lifecycle with panels is significantly smaller. The rareness of good and thorough information on purchasing solar panels is a legitimate cause for concern, especially since you are looking at something that can become about the same price as a car. In order to help you along the way, we’ve decided to give you a few tips on what you will NEED TO KNOW before installing solar panels on your rooftop.  

Will Your Roof Support The Financial & Physical Weight of the Panels?

One of the most important questions you need to consider is whether or not your roof gets enough sun to pay off the panels in twenty or thirty years. If you are right next to a couple of oak trees that shade your roof most of the day, it may not end up being worth the investment. This is supposed to be a product that will pay dividends for decades, so do you think there’s anything in the future that will harm your “solar window”, or ability to get enough sunlight? Maybe those trees you just planted will become a problem for your solar efficiency, but regardless, you need to think this out in a thirty to fifty year window.

Along with your “solar window”, you also need to check and see if your roof is in shape to have panels installed. If it looks like it’s going to need some maintenance now or even five years down the road, you have to consider the cost of taking the panels down and putting them back up again, should you decide to go with the panels before roof maintenance.

Also think about what results may come from your community. There may be a hefty fee involved with a homeowner’s association, or maybe you can’t install because you live in an apartment complex. You never have to completely give up on solar and can look into what’s called shared or community solar.

Which Kind of Solar Is Best For You?

There are two kinds of solar power: photovoltaic solar and thermal solar. Photovoltaic solar captures sunlight and turns it into electricity, which is probably the most common type that you have seen. Thermal solar turns sunlight into heat. If heating your water or air is starting to outweigh your electricity costs, it may be a good idea to look into getting thermal solar.

Is It the Real Deal or Is Someone Just Trying To Rip You Off?

Solar power seems to be the new entrepreneurial thing to do. There are new solar companies popping up all over the country and almost year round there will be people knocking your doors trying to sell you some form of solar energy. It’s the sad truth, but while some are out there because they believe in solar and that’s their business, others are around just to ride the wave and make a quick buck off of somebody in the process. Solar panels are expensive, so no matter how nice the contractor or company may be, shop around and get multiple quotes. Not only do you want an honest company, but also an experienced one, so look for accreditation from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). They have become the primary organization in the United States and Canada to certify professionals in solar energy and as such, have become that older brother that can help protect against phony or inexperienced companies.

Buy or Lease?

Panels nowadays are supposed to last decades and some warranties last from about 20 to 25 years. So this is the time where you run your own cost/benefit analysis and see if it makes sense for you to pay off the panels, or just pay the solar company for some of the energy. Keep in mind there will be utility fees to explore if you own them, but they’re 100 percent yours and may pay themselves off quicker than any lease agreement. Also consider the components that are a part of solar panels. The panel itself has no moving parts which means almost no maintenance, but things like the power inverter will need to be replaced somewhere along the line and wont last nearly as long.

We wish you the best of luck on searching what situation is best for your home and encourage you to ask us any questions if you would like a further and more in depth analysis.

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