what to know before going solar

What to Know Before Going Solar

Are you thinking about adding solar panels to your home? Before buying solar panels for your home, you need to be a smart solar shopper. From understanding solar 101 to drilling down into the cost of solar panels. It is necessary to get familiar with the basics and benefits of installing solar panels, so you are sure that your decision is right.

Enclosed are essential considerations you should know before installing solar panels. Like all significant investments, it is necessary to plan and assess your family’s needs. This will ensure you have a smooth experience going solar while maximizing your solar savings. You feel confident that you are buying the right number of panels, have an idea of the cost of solar panels, and current incentives. Do your necessary homework before going solar. It starts by asking, what are some of the critical things to know before going solar? 

How Solar Panels Work: A Quick Breakdown

So how does it all work? Solar PV panels create electricity from the sun’s radiation and converted it into electricity that can be used to power your household appliances. Solar PV panels have an inverter that allows them to convert direct current power produced to actual power that can be used, known as alternating current power. For a more in depth guide, check out How Does Solar Energy Work.

commercial solar inverter

Solar PV vs. Solar Thermal

Also, it is necessary to choose the right solar panels that will suit your goals. There are two types of solar panels that can be installed on your roof, solar thermal and solar PV. Both types compete for the best roofspace but do very different things. If you are considering solar PV, you are looking to reduce your electricity costs. Solar thermal panels are used to heat your swimming pool. 

Solar PV Panel Considerations

lg solar panel held standing up

While evaluating solar PV panels for your home, you will come across multiple different options; from the brand, wattage, and looks. Depending on what combination you pick, it will make a difference in terms of your solar energy system’s overall cost. The three (3) more important factors when selecting your solar panels are whether you want to pay more for: 

  1. Brand Name: You will pay more for a brand name
  2. Higher Wattage: Higher wattage panels cost more
  3. Nicer Looks: All-Black panels will cost more than Black-on-White panels and Blue-on-White panels. 

If your goal is to have the cheapest solar panel system possible, you will want a non-brand name panel, low wattage, and panels with white lines caused by the busbars. For a more in depth guide, check out Solar Energy System Parts.

Your Roof Matters! 

solar panel roof

The best roof plane to place your solar panels is the side that is facing south. After you maximize your south-facing roof, the next best places are West and East. Putting panels on the Northside of your home will provide a low ROI.

The angel of your roof will impact how much direct sunlight your panels get exposed to a swell. The best efficiency is achieved with an angle of 30-40 degrees. Ensure you remove all the objects that may be in the way of proper functioning, such as trees or any other obstruction that can cause shade.

The shade from nearby obstructions is the worst enemy of solar panels. Shading prevents your solar panels from getting exposed to sunlight. That is why it is vital to place your solar panels in a way to avoid shading to maximize their full efficiency

How many solar panels will I need?

“How much solar do I need?” is typically the first question most homeowners ask before going solar. The first part in determining how many solar panels you need is for your home is to calculate how many kWhs are currently being used. After determining your home’s energy consumption, you need to factor in sunlight exposure and panel efficiency to calculate how many solar panels you will need. After deciding exactly how many solar panels you need, consider the panel efficiency and brand to get the best Return on Investment. How Many Solar Panels Do I Need? Calculate Now!

Average Cost of a Solar Panel System

According to EnergySage, as of January 2021, California’s average solar panel cost is $2.95/W. This cost of going solar can fluctuate based on the size of the system, type of panels, inverter, and any additional expenses such as roof repair or panel upgrades. One of the easiest ways to start your solar energy research is to request quotes from local solar contractors. This will make it easy for you to get a baseline of how to compare solar companies, their equipment, and prices.

Cost of Ownership

Solar panels were built to run worry-free for years. Despite them being exposed to the harsh elements, there is no need for some considerable maintenance. If your solar panels are looking like they need to be cleaned, you can use a hose and wash them easily. That is the only maintenance necessary. Once your solar panels are installed, they are expected to last for the next 25 years. Solar manufacturing companies are so confident about their durability and performance that nearly all of them have a 25-year warranty. The piece of solar equipment that typically breaks first is your inverter. The warranty on your solar inverter generally is much shorter, usually 7-10 years. 

Lots of Types of “Solar Companies”

With the generous incentives and benefits of solar panels, numerous companies started selling and installing them. However, there are multiple types of “solar companies.” Some that focus just on selling solar panels, to others that focus on manufacturing solar equipment. For most homeowners, they are looking for a solar company that focuses on installing solar panels. It is crucial to ask whether the solar company you are working with does the installation themselves.

  1. Do you subcontract the installation? 
  2. Who do I turn to for any maintenance or repair? 

Suppose the company has plenty of satisfied customers and numerous installations performed. In that case, you can be sure that you will be happy with the installation and that you won’t have to worry about anything.

Solar Isn’t Free - Solar Panels Come at a Price

There is no such thing as FREE solar. But you can try to find the cheapest possible option to install solar panels on their roofs. However, more affordable usually means lower quality. One element that most homeowners seem to forget is that workmanship and quality make a difference.

asian biting dollar sign money solar savings

There are varying degrees of quality solar workmanship, so it is essential to have realistic expectations and do your research. The type of equipment, workmanship quality, support, and post-installation experience make a substantial difference. The lowest cost doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the best system for you in the long run.

Individual pieces of equipment like your inverter can make a massive impact on your solar energy system, and choosing the wrong one could mean that the cost of repair sets your ROI back a few years. That is why it is necessary to find a certified solar installer that recommends a solution that is designed to last for years to come. With solar power, regardless of the installation and equipment, you will see savings. It is just a matter of time. 

Understanding Financing Options from Lease to PPAs

For most homeowners, purchasing a solar panel system outright isn’t possible. Just like with a car, some people prefer to lease the vehicle versus buying it. With a lease, it allows them to bypass all of the headaches associated with ownership while getting the car’s benefits at the lowest cost possible. Solar leases and Solar Power Purchase Agreements (Solar PPAs) work in a similar way. Solar lease and PPAs allow customers to pay for the solar system over a designated period.

Many customers can benefit from a solar energy system for a minimal investment, even with no money down in some cases. Solar leases provide the ability to get immediate cost savings without putting any money down towards a solar panel system. Solar PPAs are similar to leases but have a unique twist. With a solar PPA, the homeowner agrees to rent their roof space to a solar company in return for purchasing all of the energy purchased from their solar energy system at a fixed cost. With Solar Leases and Solar PPAs, there has never been an easier time to go solar. 

Currently Available Rebates & Incentives

Before you decide to get solar, look into the existing incentives and rebates you are eligible for. These can all help you determine what brand and solar company to use for your solar power project.

The most widely known incentive is the Federal investment tax credit, commonly referred to as the Solar Tax Credit. The tax credit of 26% has been extended to 2023. This Federal Tax Credit is also available for commercial solar installations. 

Additionally, states and counties may offer rebates to encourage homeowners to switch to solar energy. Even individual utility companies provide incentives for customers to invest in solar energy technologies for their properties. A good company will help you take advantage of every possible rebate and money-saving option available. 

Best Solar Installer, at a Competitive Price

Before going solar, consider working with Forme Solar. We can help you make the experience easy! We have put together a solar decision guide to help homeowners better understand the benefit and costs of solar. Contact us today, and one of our fantastic team of solar energy specialists can help you figure out if solar panels are the right option for you and your goals.