Solar-powered homes were rare even a decade ago. Due to federal and local tax incentives this has made them commonplace.
Installing solar panels can decrease a household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. This equates to needing to plant approximately 88 trees every year to offset that amount of carbon dioxide.
Looking to invest in solar power can be overwhelming and difficult to figure out where to get started. Here are the basics you need to know to get started.
Why - To reduce your carbon footprint and save an average of $84 per month on your electricity bill.
How it works - Solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) cells. Essentially these special batteries harness sunlight, transform it into energy, then sends that energy to an inverter, which converts it into electricity to power the home.
Who to hire - Installing solar panels isn’t as simple as putting cells on a rooftop. They need additional wiring, and panel placement is key to building an efficient system. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with a professional.
What to look for in a solar professional:
• A company that offers a top warranty. You will want to be sure the inverter is covered for at least 10 years and the panels are for 20 to 25 years.
• Installs panels made by a manufacturer based in the U.S. This is essential to ensure your warranty will still protect you if the manufacturer goes out of business.
• Doesn’t outsource installation.
• Licensed and bonded
• Can supply at customer references
The price of solar panels has dropped approximately 60 percent since the 2011. Along with federal and local tax credits and subsidies, this has helped drop the national average up-front costs to about $17,000. It’s worth your time to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the financial help that’s available to you.
Wiring and installation typically takes a few days. It can range anywhere from a few weeks to a few months between the time you sign a contract and the actual installation.
For the ultimate advantage of solar power, your roof needs to receive direct sun during the time of day when the sunlight is strongest which is usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for your system to work efficiently.
Trees, tall buildings, and even a chimney can affect your panels’ sun exposure. Different kinds of panels react in various ways to shadow; some reduce output, and others shut down altogether. The more hours your panels are exposed to full sun, the more efficiently they’ll generate power.
To determine the size of a system depends on insolation and how much energy is needed. Look at your electric bill to find out how many kilowatts of energy you use on an average day. Multiply that by .25, and that’s approximately how big of a system you’ll need.