Steps to Go Solar

Jessica PirroMay 22, 2019 1093 0

With solar panel popularity on the rise and the cost of solar panels being at an all time low, many homeowners question if the cost of solar panels is actually worth the investment.

The First Steps to Going Solar

Going solar might seem like a scary transition. It’s definitely a lot of new information to research and absorb, and it all might seem extremely overwhelming. However, if you take it step by step, you’ll find it’s not nearly as scary as it seems. In this blog, we’ll give you a step by step guide to your first steps in making the switch over to solar energy. That way, you can begin to navigate this new arena by learning just the first basic steps. We won’t bombard you with too much information at once, and you’ll be able to figure out what exactly you need to do to bring solar into your life, without all the headache of piles and piles of information.

Six things a homeowner needs to know when considering solar panels.

1. Can you buy and install your own solar panels for home to save money?

It is possible to buy kits and then organize the installation, permitting and inspections yourself. Doing this can save you up to $2,000-$3,000 dollars on the cost of solar installation, possible even more.

But there are potential pitfalls when it comes to installing solar panels yourself. One being the installation process itself is very dangerous. You will also risk the possibility of damaging the equipment and when doing so, it is very hard to claim a warranty without a solar company supporting you. Normally the DIY solar projects are more geared towards those who know solar qualified electricians who can help them out or are contractors.

Before going straight into a DIY solar panel project it is recommended that you get at least one quote from a reputable full service solar panel company that includes the equipment, permits and installation. Sometimes solar installers can charge the DIY customers more and it would actually be more beneficial if the customer had the solar panel company take care of the whole process.

Doing at home installation may reduce the cost of the overall solar panel process, but if a mistake is made and damage is done, you may end up paying more, or even loosing money.

2. Is your roof suitable for installing solar panels?

Solar energy is able to provide power to your entire house because net metering gives you credits to cover the power that you are using at night. Therefore, depending on your home, it is possible for the solar panels to produce enough power that you have next to no utility bill. For this to happen your home needs anywhere between 6-8kW of solar panels so that your house can produce enough solar energy to eliminate the utility bill. For that to happen you will need to have roughly between 360-520 square feet of roof space that is normally unshaded form 10 am - 3 pm.

Solar panels that face south produce the most electricity, but it is perfectly fine to have solar panels facing southwest or southeast and they won’t loose too much of the electricity generation that the south facing solar panels generate.

Though solar panels on west facing roofs produce 15% less electricity, than the solar panels that are placed on a south facing roof, it is becoming increasingly more popular for people to place them that way as the price of solar panels fall. It is now common for people who have time-of-use electricity billing to move their solar generation to late in the afternoon because that is when the peak rates are charged by the electric utility for power.

3. How many solar panels are needed to power a house?

How many solar panels you will need to power your house all depends on two factors:

  1. The amount of electricity your house hold uses.
  2. The location. The location determines how much electricity the solar panels will produce.

One way to figure out how many solar panels you would need would be online. There are online solar calculators that take your location and your monthly power spend to figure out how many solar panels you need.

4. How long do solar panels last?

The typical solar panels have warranties lasting 25 years and the top-notch brands will sometimes have warranties that last up to 30 years. There is a video that was sent to SolarReviews of 80-watt Seimen solar panels that are from the 1970s that are still producing 60 watts, close to 20 years after their warranty ended. So even though there is a 25 year warranty period on the solar panels that may not be the life span your solar panels.

5. Does solar make sense if I dont plan on being in my home for 25 years?

A common question that most people have when considering solar panels and if they are worth it or is what if they don’t plan on being in their house for the full life cycle of their solar panels? Would purchasing solar panels still be worth it? Even though you may not plan on living in the same house for 25 years solar increase the value of your property and in some cases has been known to speed up the process of selling the house.In California a group of economists showed that on average solar panels added a premium to the selling price of a property of $20,914 in mid-range houses. Right now the housing market has buyers who are looking to purchase a solar home that has next to no utility bills.

6. Are solar panels worth the investment given 2019 solar prices and tax credits?

In states with higher electricity rates, the investment return on solar panels is now more than that on more traditional investments like shares or properties. The rate of return on the costs of solar panels and their installation on the average home is 12.7% across American and as high as 22% in Massachusetts and in certain areas of Southern California.

Steps to a solar installation

After deciding if the solar panels are the right decision for your property there is a process that needs to happen when it comes to the installation of solar panels and it isn’t going to just happen over night. From the day that you sign your contract with your installer, to the day the panels are installed and producing energy, there is typically a wait period of one to three months.

Finding a Solar Company

The first step is to engage in a free consultation with a solar company to get some price and design estimates so that you’ll have a plan of what to work with. Scroll down right now to get introduced to our designer so you can start taking that first step. 

Choosing the solar panels and inverters

The first step to solar panel installation is picking out your solar panels. The two things you need to consider when it comes to picking out a solar system is figuring out what solar panels and inverter you want.

One thing that you may want to research before before deciding on anything is the different types of inverters and panels are on the market. Once you decide what you want, your solar panel installer will have brand recommendation.

Property Evaluation

After signing your solar contract, the first thing that will happen is an engineer will come by your house to evaluate your property. The engineer will typically work for your solar panel installer and you can expect their visit to happen soon after the signing the contract.

This has to happen before your solar panel installation because the engineer has to check out your electrical and make sure that everything is compatible to go solar. The engineer will also have to evaluate your roof to make sure that, structurally it can hold the solar panels.

While the engineer is there, they will also check you electrical panel to make sure that you don’t need to upgrade it before your solar panel installation. If the engineer finds that you need to upgrade it, it will be because you solar panels will require more amps of current and the ampere capacity will need to increase.

An engineer evaluation is different than a solar panel installer’s evaluation. The solar panel installer is evaluating your property to figure out what system size you will need and to find out your roof type. They need to see the angle of the roof and the shading before the installation of solar panel process can begin.

In some cases the engineer won’t make a visit to the actual site. The solar panel installer will just take pictures for the engineer and they will be able to sign off so you can begin your solar panel installation.

Assessing your roof

The next thing you’ll want to do is figure out how old your roof is and what it’s made out of. If you’re interested in a rooftop system, the age of your roof is important in determining if it will live long enough to last with your solar system. If it’s an old roof, you’ll want to replace it beforehand. And if it’s made out of any weak materials, you’ll want to replace it with a stronger mater.

The Paperwork

The next step in the your process of solar panel installation, will be procuring permits and documents. When it comes to the installation of solar panel there is a lot of paperwork. Lucky for you, the majority of this paperwork is done by the solar panel installer.

A lot of the paperwork is applying for state and federal solar incentives. These incentives include the federal ITC, local solar programs, clean energy financing initiatives like PACE, government rebates and solar renewable energy certificates (SERCs).

Filling out paperwork for building permits is another thing that is imperative to your solar panels installation. These permits are are specific to where you live. Your solar panel installer knows the restrictions and requirements of the state that they are working in. A lot of times the solar panel installer will fill this paperwork out for you.

The paperwork approval what usually holds up the solar panel installation process. It usually takes about one to two months to approve the installation.

How long this process will take really depends on your solar panel installer and how proactive they are about getting it all filled out and submitted. If you are eager to get the solar panels installation going, make sure you are following up on the paperwork process with the installer.

Ordering the equipment

Once all of the paperwork is filled out, the next process for your solar panel installation is ordering the equipment. The solar panel installer will order this through their primary distributor.

After the equipment is ordered, you are added to your solar panel installers queue. All of your equipment will usually arrive the day that you are scheduled for your solar panel installation.

The installation

The solar panel installation can take one to three days, it depends on the size of the system that is being installed. If your solar panel installer has to add a power meter for net metering, this will prolong the solar panel installation process.

The actual installation of solar panels in the next step. The first step in this process is roof prep. This involves the solar panel installer making sure that your roofing shingles or tiles are all attached the right way. Then they will begin the installation the electrical wire that will connect to the electrical box.

Next the solar panel installer does the racking that will support your panels. When all of the racking is level and attached correctly, solar panel installer then begins to install the panels on the racking.

Your inverters are then connected to the panels so that your panels can convert the direct current (DC) energy they are creating to alternating currant (AC) energy, which is the energy that is being used in homes.

Power Generation

The last step in the solar panel installation is to start generating power from your roof. Before connecting your panels to the electrical grid your system has to be inspected by a representative from the local town government.

This inspection will typically involve them essentially double checking your installers work. Once this is complete your solar panels will officially be ready for grid interconnection.

An electric company representative will come do a final evaluation of the solar system. Once they give it approval, your panels will go live. Once your system is live, your solar panel installation process will be complete and you will have solar power.

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