Five steps to getting started with solar panels

Francisco CastroMay 31, 20199850

More than two million solar installations are now spread across the United States, a number that is expected to double in the next three years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Many of your neighbors are already saving money by generating their own electricity from the sun and you’re also looking to do the same.

Doing so is easier, faster and more affordable than ever. The price of a home solar energy system is now 70% cheaper than it was a year ago. The average solar installation costs about $11,00 - $14,000 and there are plenty of incentives, tax breaks and rebates to help you save even further.

To find out how much a residential solar panel system will cost you, you can access the Hahasmart price checker. Just provide your address and your average monthly utility bill and you’ll get the actual price of solar panels and inverters that match your electricity needs. You’ll also get an estimated cost of installation based on thousands of completed solar projects in your area. 

They’ll even explain the estimated buyback period, the point where the electricity savings achieved with your solar array cover the purchase of your residential solar panels and your system becomes free.

In addition, they’ll connect you with their installer network to get your residence equipped with solar power as quickly as possible.  

Many cities and counties have streamlined the process of having a domestic solar power system, facilitating the process of securing permits and the approval from the utility company. From the moment you sign a contract with a solar installer, it can take as little as 35 days to have the photovoltaic (PV) modules up on your roof and getting the “green light” from your electric company to turn on your residential solar panels.

If you’re ready to make the switch to this green energy, here are the five steps to getting started with solar panels.

Is your roof in good condition?

The solar panels don’t directly sit on your roof, but instead are mounted on racking that is attached to the rafter. Still, you want to make sure your roof is not on its last legs and you won’t have replace it soon or make any major repairs, as this would involve removing the solar energy system - an unnecessary and extra cost. 

Remember that the panels have an estimated lifespan of 25 years or more, so proactively making repairs before they are placed there will eliminate headaches of repairing or replacing rooftops once the solar array is installed. Also, a good and reputable solar installer - who uld conduct a thorough revision of the roof’s condition prior to the installation -- will likely not do the job if he notices any problems with the roof.  

The contractor will also check what type of roof you have (tiles, concrete, asbestos) and whether it’s flat or sloped, if it has the right angle - solar panels should face true south in the Northern Hemisphere - and if there’s any shade that falls on the roof and could impact electricity generation. 

Do some research

The Hahasmart blog has stories dealing with just about every detail associated with a solar installation, the types of panels and how sunlight is converted into DC energy before it reaches the inverter that transforms it into AC power that your appliances can use. 

Still, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the terms and information regarding this investment, as well as your energy usage. This will also help you understand and communicate better with the installer.

Get a good installer

Try to get at least three different quotes from knowledgeable and experienced solar installers, check their certifications and licenses before committing to one. Be wary of salespeople who show up at your door trying to persuade you to make an instant decision. 

Reputable installation companies will be registered with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, have credentials from third party organizations like NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners), or are certified installer partners of the manufacturers they represent. 

An installer will want to visit your home to assess the state and orientation of your roof and to see how much shade it gets. The installation company will also recommend solar and energy storage products, based on your budget and needs.

Choose the solar panels

It’s best to select Tier 1 (from companies that have been in business for five or more years, with plenty of research and innovation) solar panels that could have a slightly higher cost than others, but are efficient, low maintenance and have the highest warranties of 25 years. This is a long commitment on your part and an investment that will continue to pay dividends beyond the payback period. If aesthetics is an issue, you'd want to pick the solar panels that better match your roof and won't be an eyesore.

Get ready for the installation

Depending on the size of the solar array on your roof or property, the number of workers the installer has with him and the shape and angle of your roof, the actual installation can last one to two days. Your installation company will ensure that electrical wiring is installed to connect the general power system to your electrical panel and will prepare your roof so that racking may be attached. Once the panels are set in place, inverters are then connected to the panels. A representative from the city/county and from the utility company will inspect the home solar energy system to make sure it is up to electrical and building and safety codes. Once those inspections are completed (which can take a few days of wait), your solar array can be turned on and you can start producing electricity from the sun. 

HahaSmart Blog - More Solar Tips and Guide
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