6 Steps in Planning a Home Solar Panel System Installation
Here are the six steps that we came up with to help you in planning a home solar panel system installation.
- Check out your home’s energy efficiency
As a homeowner, you need to investigate the total amount of energy you used previously even before embarking on the whole process of powering your entire home. Also, you should put into consideration the potential efficiency upgrades so that you may consider low-cost but easy-to-implement measures prior to going solar.
You can explore the following resources to bring down your electricity use:
Home energy audits– A home energy audit helps in understanding why your home is losing energy and how you can solve that problem.
Appliances and electronics– Either use your home appliances and electronics efficiently, or you can acquire very high efficient products.
Lighting– You should use energy efficient lights such as LED bulbs to cut down on energy consumption.
Heating and cooling system– Heating and cooling systems can affect the amount of energy used in your home. But you can save on energy consumption by improving the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
- Take your time to assess your solar system potential
Assessing the potential of your solar system plays a crucial role in determining the best way you’re going to use solar electricity in your home. Given that PV technologies employ the use of either direct or scattered sunlight, the solar resources in the U.S. is enough to generate solar electricity in homes.
But the total amount of energy generated by a particular solar energy system depends on how much sunlight reaches it and of course, the size of the panels installed in a specific area.
The good news is that there are mapping services and equipment that can help you in determining the potential of your home solar energy. Also, these services can provide you with vital information regarding the estimated system size, its costs and savings, and the local contractors.
Mapping services give you the best starting point and can determine if your home is an ideal location for solar panel installation. Even though these services are important, they don’t account for every variable that needs consideration for your solar system to work perfectly. Otherwise, you may consider working hand in hand with a professional solar installer if you really want an accurate assessment, detailed recommendations, equipment expertise, and estimates.
Therefore, you will have to consider the following during the assessment of your solar system:
Nearby shade trees– Working with a contractor will help you to evaluate the amount of shade at the spot you are looking to stall your solar system. Or, you may as well consider your neighbor’s trees that are likely to grow and cover your system in the future.
The nature of the roof– The roof on which you are going to have your solar panels installed should be assessed to determine its suitability. If it may need a replacement, then that is the right time to do so before installing your solar panels.
Neighborhood or the Homeowner Association (HOA) regulations– A number of states in the U.S. have what is commonly known as “solar rights provisions” that limit HOA restrictions on solar installations. These provisions vary from one state to the other and by the municipality. So, you should look into your own homeowner’s association covenants and the state laws before you can decide to carry on with your solar power installation.
- Buying the solar energy system
Purchasing solar panels in cash or on loan is a noble idea that will enable you to maximize the available financial benefits of having solar energy in your home. You can take full advantage of tax credits to upgrade your home in a bid to increase its market value.
However, the solar installer will help you to connect your solar system to the national grid where you will receive an interconnection permit right from the utility. This is beneficial in such a way that you will be able to sell excess power to the grid and eventually get paid. On the other hand, you might realize that your needs at home exceed the power generated from your solar system. If it happens, you can draw energy from the grid to cover for the electricity shortage in your home.
Buying a solar system is actually a good investment only if the following factors apply to you:
- When you want to install a solar system in your home
● If you qualify for the state or federal investment tax credits
● When you are willing to perform any repairs on your solar panels rather than relying on the manufacturer’s warranties
● You want to upgrade your home value
● Or when you already have the capital to buy the system or have access to money lenders such as banks, utilities or financial arrangement from a solar installer in your area.
- Make an estimation of your solar energy needs
An estimation of your energy needs is important because it will help your contractor in selecting the right solar panel for your home. You can do that by reviewing electricity bills to know the annual energy needs in your home. Your power consumption will be shown in kilowatt-hour (kWh). As such, you can take a monthly review of a particular year to come up with an average amount of power consumed
Take into consideration any planned changes. This means, if you will be buying an electric car or you are in the process of adding a home, your energy needs will definitely go high. In case you decide to make some changes to lower your energy consumption, you will need less electricity compared to what you used previously.
- Get full knowledge of the available financing options and incentives
A smaller solar system is eligible for about 30 percent federal tax credit for the year 2019. The tax, however, will decrease by 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021 and then expire on December 31, 2021. For more information, you may search for the additional state, local and utility incentives right from the Database at State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DESIRE) Additionally, you can go ahead to explore the available financing options on solar panels.
Every situation is always different and what is good for your property will depend on a range of factors. That is why the Clean Energy States Alliance guide is there to help homeowners in their options as well as giving an explanation on the merits and demerits of each. You can visit the Homeowners Guide to Going Solar to learn more about solar energy financing options.
- Work together with your installer and Utility
When the time is right for you to install a solar system, let your installer help you in completing the necessary steps on your behalf. But, the size of your solar system will depend on your energy needs and the following:
- The amount of available sunlight
● The orientation of the system
● The efficiency of the system
● Other sources of electricity available (utility, wind turbines, and fossil fuel generators)
Apart from all that, your installer will make sure that the equipment is installed correctly in its position to maximize daily and seasonal energy generation from the solar system.
In a nutshell, be sure to have full knowledge of how billing and net metering work including any other additional utility fees to be paid.