Solar energy is being touted as a good source of energy to add to or replace fossil fuels. But right now, installing solar panels is quite an investment. People with limited resources want to save on their electric bills. But they may not be sure the investment in solar panels will pay off. When a person wants to try a solar panel system, they must find the money to pay for its installation and materials. There are some government programs, home improvement loans, tax credits, and refinancing options available to provide the money for the solar energy investment.
Is Your Roof Right For Solar Panels?
One of the first considerations in installing a solar panel system on the roof is if the roof will support the solar panels. Is the roof in good condition? Or is it near the end of its life? It would be expensive to install a solar panel system on the roof and then a couple of years later need to replace the roof. The extra expense to remove the solar panel system, install the new roof, and then re-install the solar panels would be considerable
Unless your roof is relatively new and in good condition, consider hiring a dependable roofing company that installs new roofs and is licensed to install solar panel systems. Then, you are sure the roof is able to support the solar panels. You will then have experts installing the solar panels on a roof they are familiar with. One company doing both installations will save time and money. Use a local roofing company. This means they are close by if you have problems with either the roof or the solar panels.
What is a Solar System for the Home?
Solar power for the home uses photovoltaic or PV solar technology. This technology has only recently come down in price enough to be financially possible on a widespread level. Solar panels come in different sizes. They are determined by a theoretical output potential in watts. The actual electrical output for installed PV systems is called the “capacity factor.” It is usually from 15% to 30% of the theoretical output figure.
The actual power output will be affected by many factors. These include the location on the roof, obstructions between the panels and the sun, the sunny days in the location, and other factors. Because of the variables, solar power might be great for one homeowner and not feasible for their neighbor. The solar gains can vary considerably from house to house.
An expert in solar power can help the homeowner determine the value of solar power for their home. Some considerations include:
1. When it works, solar power is good for the environment. You may even be able to sell extra solar energy back to the grid.
2. Installing solar power is a good way to go green.
3. Solar panel systems installation and maintenance can be costly. Although, costs have come down recently.
4. Solar panels work best with homes that get enough sun exposure throughout the year. Does your home get enough sunlight?
5. Make the effort to understand the social and economic factors of solar power before committing to it. Learn how the system works and what you need to do.
Typical Solar System Cost Factors
Solar power’s main cost is the equipment. The solar modules present the most cost. Then there are inverters to turn the direct current into the alternating current used in the home, metering equipment to measure the power produced, and additional housing components, cables, and wiring. You may choose to store power from the solar equipment in special batteries. These are expensive to purchase.
After the equipment is purchased, installation costs must be added. The equipment must be maintained and cleaned periodically. Inverters and batteries will need replacement every few years. Make sure you get a complete equipment and installation quote from the solar installation company.
Once the costs are determined, it is time to see what government subsidies, power company subsidies, or tax credits are available from local, state, or federal governments. It is also necessary to contact the local power company to see what their policy is for solar grid interconnection. Make sure to check for selling extra power to the grid.
Benefits Of Installing Solar Power
There are a number of potential benefits to solar power
- The energy bills will be lower. These savings offset the cost of the system over time.
- The homeowner can sell the extra solar energy to the local utility through “net metering.”
- A home with a solar panel system will have a higher value. There is a growing market for homes with solar power already installed.
- Solar energy is good for the environment and green living. Solar power is a renewable energy source. It lets the home have a smaller carbon print.
- People who own homes with solar power may be eligible for certain tax breaks.
- Solar panel systems can function as investments with good return rates.
What is Your Solar Panels Payback Time?
The payback period for solar panels is calculated to estimate how long it may take for the homeowner to break even with the solar power investment. The lowering prices of solar equipment are making it easier for homeowners to own, instead of renting, solar panel systems. When a homeowner reaches the break-even time, the solar power investment will start making them money.
It is important to get quotes from several companies for different solar equipment options and the payback period. Do a little research online or otherwise on each solar panel system. See how they rate with customers and solar power experts.
Some factors used in determining the payback period include:
1. Figuring out what all the combined costs will be.
2. Getting estimates on what the annual benefits might be. This will include electric bill savings and other financial incentives.
3. Dividing the combined costs by the annual financial benefits. This will give you the number of years in the payback period.
You will need to figure out the actual costs of the solar panel system and installation, the value of the up-front financial incentives you qualify for, your average electrical monthly bill, and the amount of electricity your system will generate.