The Homeowner's Comprehensive Guide to Going Solar

Veronica LeeMay 8, 20199900

A Homeowners Guide to Going Solar

First, what is solar power? Is it right for me?

When sunlight hits an object on earth, the energy usually transforms into heat. However, when the same light hits certain materials, like the photovoltaic (PV) cells of a solar panel, that energy is converted to an electric current. Because the electricity generated by solar cells flows in a direct current (DC), an inverter must be used to change it into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is then ready to power a home.

A complete home solar system requires multiple components to produce/store electricity and maintain safety. Solar electricity is usually called Photovoltaics (PV) because they transform light energy into electricity. An average PV panel consists of two or more thin layers of semi-conducting material, which is commonly silicon. PV cells are connected together and encapsulated to form a module or panel. When lights strike the silicon, it produces electrons. Solar energy is one of the most utilized renewable energy sources that can be useful to any household.

To learn more about solar power, read "How Does Solar Power Work?"

Is solar safe and environmentally friendly?

All solar panels meet international inspection and testing standards, and a qualified installer will install them to meet local building, fire, and electrical codes. Also, your solar energy system will undergo a thorough inspection from a certified electrician as part of the installation process. Photovoltaics are one of the cheapest solutions & environmentally-friendly ways to generate power today because they are silent, produce no emissions while in use and require no fuel to run them. There are many benefits to adopting a solar system for your household.  

Is my home the right fit for a home solar system?

Solar panels are built to work in all climates, but in some cases, rooftops may not be suitable for solar systems due to age or tree cover. If there are trees near your home that create excessive shade on your roof, rooftop panels may not be an ideal option. The size, shape, and slope of your roof are also important factors to consider. Typically, solar panels perform best on south-facing roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees, though other roofs may be suitable too. You should also consider the age of your roof and how long until it will need replacement.

If a solar professional determines that your roof is not suitable for solar, or you don’t own your home, you can still benefit from solar energy. Community solar allows multiple people to benefit from a single, shared solar array that can be installed on- or off-site. Costs associated with purchasing and installing a solar energy system are divided among all of the participants, who are able to buy into the shared system at a level that best fits their budget. 

I'm interested - how do I begin the process of going solar?

It's simple. First, determine if your roof is suitable for solar and can even provide you with quotes from pre-screened solar providers in your area. In addition to those resources, an internet search can help you find local companies that install solar panels. Because you will likely have many options to choose from, it’s important to thoroughly read reviews of solar companies to make sure you are selecting the best fit for you and your home.

HahaSmart Solar offers an easy DIY design tool for homeowners to use to determine if their house is suitable for a home solar system. 

Also, read our Easy DIY Solar System Site Assessment Guide For Homeowners

How much will I save by adopting solar?

The amount of money you can save with solar depends upon how much electricity you consume, the size of your solar energy system, if you choose to buy or lease your system, and how much power it is able to generate given the direction your roof faces and how much sunlight hits it. Your savings also depend on the electricity rates set by your utility and how much the utility will compensate you for the excess solar energy you send back to the grid. 

We offer a great Price Checker feature that easily generates all price quote comparisons in your area. 

What financial options are available to homeowners? What financial incentives are there?

Consumers have different financial options to select from when deciding to go solar. In general, a purchased solar system can be installed at a lower total cost than a system installed using a solar loan, lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA).

If you prefer to buy your solar energy system, solar loans can lower the up-front costs of the system. In most cases, monthly loan payments are smaller than a typical energy bill, which will help you save money from the start. Solar loans function the same way as home improvement loans, and some jurisdictions will offer subsidized solar energy loans with below-market interest rates, making solar even more affordable. New homeowners can add solar as part of their mortgage with loans available, where borrowers can start financing for home improvements in the home’s purchase price.

Buying a solar energy system makes you eligible for the Solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, which is a 30 percent federal tax credit on your system that is available through 2022. 

Solar leases and PPAs allow consumers to host solar energy systems that are owned by solar companies and purchase back the electricity generated. Consumers enter into agreements that allow them to have lower electricity bills without monthly loan payments. In many cases, that means putting no money down to go solar. Solar leases entail fixed monthly payments that are calculated using the estimated amount of electricity the system will produce. With a solar PPA, consumers agree to purchase the power generated by the system at a set price per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. With both of these options, though, you are not entitled to tax benefits since you don’t own the solar energy system.

Navigating the landscape of solar financing can be difficult. Check out our guide to financing options

Where do I find a solar installer in my area for the best price?

Going solar is a significant financial investment into your home, so you should be able to trust your installer to advise and guide you through the process. Your installer should be knowledgeable about solar powered systems and be able to answer any product, installation, and service related questions you may have. The initial property/site visit is an opportunity to meet your installer face-to-face and verify that he/she is someone that you want to do business with. Be sure to check out homeowner reviews of the contractor you hire, especially if they lack certification. HahaSmart provides the best quotes for solar installations in your area.

Feel free to read more about How To Choose An Installer

How will solar affect the value of my current home? 

Buying a solar energy system will likely increase your home’s value. A recent study found that solar panels are viewed as upgrades, just like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, and home buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. Additionally, there is evidence homes with solar panels sell faster than those without.

In 2008, California homes with energy efficient features and PV were found to sell faster than homes that consume more energy. Keep in mind, these studies focused on homeowner-owned solar arrays.

I just have a few more questions - where can I read more resources? 

Solar System Maintenence 

Community Solar Explained

How To Choose The Best Solar Panels For Your Home

Solar system price checker


Design Your Solar Home


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Input your address to see if it is solar friendly and how much you can save with solar.

Great. Your address is perfect for solar. Solar incentive is still available. Select monthly utility cost and calculate the size of solar system you will need now.

Whoa ! Going solar is definitely a smart decision.

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