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Things to Know Before Installing Solar Panels on Your Roof

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Title: Things to Know Before Installing Solar Panels on Your Roof


1
Want Solar Panels on Your Roof? Here's What You
Need to Know
  • Alex Yackery 15th September 2016

2
Do You Have A Roof That Can Support Solar Panels?
  • This is pretty key. If your roof is covered in
    shade most of the day throughout the year, it
    might not have a favorable enough solar window
    to justify the costs of panels. Thats something
    youll want to assess before you move forward. If
    your roof wont cut it, or you cant make the
    call because you rent your apartment or live in a
    multi-unit building, you dont have to give up on
    solar power altogether. Instead of installing
    your own panels, look into shared or community
    solar. This approach lets many different
    customers buy a stake in a solar installation and
    receive credits on their electricity bills.
  • If you do have a suitably sunlit rooftop to work
    with, Weissman says, make sure its in good shape
    structurally. Solar installations these days can
    come with warranties for 20 or 25 years. If your
    roof will need a renovation a few years down the
    road, itll be easier to take care of that before
    the array goes up. That way, you wont have to
    pay in extra time and money to disconnect your
    panels during the roof renovation and put them up
    again afterwards. While youre at it, make sure
    you wont run afoul of any homeowners
    association covenants that ban rooftop solar for
    aesthetic reasons.
  • Lastly, envision the future of your yard. If the
    roof is unobstructed now but youve just planted
    a battalion of leafy oaks around your property,
    you might run in to trouble a few years down the
    road. Be prepared to prune your foliage to keep
    the panels clear.

3
Have You Done Everything You Can To Improve
Efficiency?
  • The amount of solar energy you need to produce
    depends on how much you use, so it makes sense to
    trim your usage as much as possible before paying
    for all those panels. Start with an energy audit
    and look for efficiency upgrades before you draw
    up blueprints.

4
Which Kind Of Solar Makes Sense?
  • The two dominant solar technologies to pick from
    are photovoltaic, which uses arrays of cells to
    turn sunlight into electricity, and thermal,
    which uses sunlight to heat water or air for use
    inside. If your home uses a lot of energy for
    heating, or you live somewhere where heating fuel
    is expensive relative to electricity, a solar
    thermal investment could break even sooner, says
    the engineer Timothy Wilhelm, who coordinates the
    electrical technology program and teaches solar
    installation at Kankakee Community College in
    Illinois. But, he adds, solar thermal is rarer
    for homes, so it might be harder to find a
    qualified installer.

5
How Do You Connect To The Grid?
  • The details vary depending on where you live, but
    the principle is that any time youre connecting
    with a utility, there are a lot of logistics to
    sort out. Do you have to pay a fee? How long does
    it take for the utility to get you hooked up?
    Once you are connected, how and when will you be
    credited for the electricity you generate?
  • That last one refers to net-metering, the
    practice by which utilities reimburse rooftop
    solar at the same rate as they charge users for
    electricity. This is politically fraught
    territory some states, like Nevada, have adopted
    policies where utilities pay less for surplus
    solar, which makes it harder to recoup the cost
    of the installation. For a handy guide to where
    each state stands on this, check out this solar
    scorecard.

6
Is Your Installer Trustworthy?
  • This applies any time you hire someone to come
    into your home, but solar combines the logistics
    of a home improvement project with the risks of
    electrical work. Credentials and references are
    especially important. You wouldnt hire an
    electrician who had never done electrical work to
    come into your house and change things around,
    says Kelly Larson, an electrical contractor in
    California with 20 years of experience doing
    solar installations. In particular, look for
    accreditation from the North American Board of
    Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). And this
    is a big expense, so dont be afraid to get a few
    different quotes before you ink a contract.
  • This is harder to predict, but, ideally, you want
    a company that will stick around for the lifetime
    of your installation. Since solar cells dont
    have moving pieces, they tend to need very little
    maintenance, Larson says. Still, in the event
    that anything does stop working during the
    warranty period, you dont want to realize that
    your installer isnt around to fix it.

7
Lease Or Buy?
  • Every household will need to run its own
    cost-benefit analysis on this basic trade-off.
    Buying your own system costs more up front but
    pays bigger dividends leasing lets you access
    cheaper electricity with little or no money down,
    but the benefits are more limited. If you lease,
    the company you contract with owns the system,
    and you pay them a certain rate for the
    electricity when the lease is up, they might
    take the system away. When you own the system, it
    can keep working for you long after it pays off
    the cost of the purchase. Make sure you compare
    the total lifecycle cost of the lease and weigh
    the savings against the benefits you would get
    from ownership.
  • In your financial analysis, keep in mind that the
    panels can function for decades, Wilhelm says,
    but other electronic equipment in the system,
    like the power inverter, has a shorter lifespan.
    Dont forget to factor in replacements for those
    other system components when budgeting the cost
    of the project.

8
What Should You See In Your Contract?
  • The contract you sign should spell out all the
    details of financing, ownership, and performance
    expectations. Also, because these systems can
    include web-enabled devices, you should check if
    anyone is collecting data on your home energy
    production and usage and who has access to it.
  • Thats a lot of details to keep in mind. IREC
    collected some additional resources that dive
    into greater detail. When in doubt, dont go it
    alone, Weissman says If youre not getting the
    answers that you need, then its probably best to
    seek some legal advice.

9
Contact US
  • Venture Home Solar
  • 240 Kent Ave, Brooklyn,
  • NY 11249
  • 1 800-203-4158
  • http//venturehomesolar.com/
  • Resource https//goo.gl/LJD7eF

10
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