Is Solar Power Right for Your Home?

    It may seem like you need to live in a sunny and hot climate to see significant savings with solar power, but you might be surprised to learn that isn’t necessarily always the case. Solar energy is a wise investment in many regions, including Washington DC. Comparing areas from sunny California and Arizona to more cloudy, high power cost areas like the Northeast, here are things to keep in mind when converting your home to solar.

    Things to Keep in Mind

    • Rebates and incentives available in your area
    • Angle and direction your rooftop faces
    • Age of your roofing
    • Obstructions or shadows on your rooftop
    • Costs of electricity in your region

    Rebates and Incentives

    There are still many rebates and incentives offered for homeowners interested in switching to solar energy. As of now, these rebates exist at the government, state and city levels, yet differ greatly depending on your area. While rebates and incentives can be rewarded with huge potential savings on your electric bill, many rebates will expire by 2020.  Luckily solar power costs are falling every year, so if you can’t invest in solar power before then the overall cost shouldn’t jump by too much hopefully.

    Age and Direction Rooftop Faces

    For optimal power generation, your home should have a south-facing rooftop. You can generate adequate energy, however, with west or east-facing rooftops as well. A pitch of 30 degrees is preferred, but solar panels can be installed on rooftops with 0 to 45-degree angles. Have a level rooftop? That’s alright as well! Your installer can mount the system at the ideal angle to amplify your electric generation. Concerning the age of your rooftop, it doesn’t need to be fresh out of the box new, but you shouldn’t be planning to replace it within the following couple of years. As a general guide, if your rooftop should be replaced in 5 years, it is best to wait and have solar panels installed afterward, or at the same time.

    Size of Rooftop and Obstacles

    The ideal roof should be free from obstacles like smokestacks, skylights, and dormers. If you do have these, that’s okay! The installer might be able to plan the framework around them, contingent upon the rooftop design and size. By and large for solar panel array framework, there ought to be 100 square feet of rooftop per kWh.  The average system size in the US is between 5 kWh and 7kWh.

    Shadows on Your Rooftop

    Shadows cast on solar panels from trees or neighboring structures can impact power generation. While a building’s shadow isn’t something you can change, tree limbs can be trimmed to diminish their impact on your system’s generation.

    Power Rates in Your State

    The cost of power in your state is a key factor in the choice to invest in solar power. Installing solar panels can be a great decision all over, yet the return on your investment will depend on how much you are paying for electricity.  As a result of the variation in electric costs, many of the cloudier regions of the US still see strong returns, sometimes even more than those in sunnier locales who have cheaper utility costs.

    Qualities of the Perfect Home for Solar Power

    While solar panels can work for all homes, the “best” homes for solar panel installations have the following rooftop qualities:

    • South or west-facing rooftop
    • 30-degree roof angle
    • No obstacles on rooftop surface, eg. skylights or chimneys.
    • No structures or trees shading your rooftop
    • Relatively new roofing

    While the above characteristics would be ideal for an efficient solar-powered house, you can still reap the rewards of a solar panel system even if you can’t meet all of the items on this list. The accompanying components are vital to consider while surveying whether your rooftop is fitting for solar power.

    Initial Cost of Residential Solar Panels

    Despite decreasing costs, solar installs aren’t cheap.  According to UK Power Ltd, “The standard solar PV costs associated with any installation depend on your system’s brand, efficiency and power generation capability. Standard costs include:

    • Equipment and installation costs of between $3,000 and $18,000 depending on the size and quality of your system. (A typical 3.5kWp system, which has the potential to provide you with up to 75% of your electricity needs, costs around $7,800.)
    • A fee of between $72 and $143 for an Energy Performance Certificate, which you need before you can receive payments under the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme.

    All these initial costs can be offset against future profits, and financial assistance is available for those who need it.”

    An Ever-Increasing Number of People Go Solar Every Year

    The number of solar panel installations is increasing every year. In 2017 alone, solar panels were installed with enough capacity to provide electricity for 180,000 households!

    Are You Ready to Go Solar?

    Keen on getting quotes for the cost of solar for your house? To gauge the amount you could save and how much a solar panel array might cost, check out this solar calculator.

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