What steps should you take before purchasing a solar panel system for your home? Great question. Let’s see if I can put a checklist together that helps you answer that question.
The first step is to check your own expenses for heating and electric in enough detail to really understand what your money is covering. Do you have high heating bills and low levels of electric use? Is most of your home’s energy demand going to heat up hot water or run air conditioning units? You need to figure this out – the more information, the better.
This will help you assess your home’s long-term energy needs. Can you cut down on heating demand by changing to a different system – going from electric to natural gas or creating heat reservoirs that hold onto the sun’s energy even in the winter? Figure out your long-term needs and try to anticipate changes. Will you retire and stay in the home, start working from home, or sell the home? All this could influence your decision.
Yes, there are regional and state-to-state differences in solar installation policies and tax credits that can help you afford to install a solar panel system in your home. Not to mention, the quality of service will depend on the level of experience of installation companies in the area. A San Diego Solar Installation looks different from an installation in Maine, Nebraska or Minnesota, and these each will look different from one another.
Not only do incentives differ from state to state, but the installation itself will vary. From region to region, there could be very different roof styles to contend with – from barn-like hip roofs in New England to angular A-frame roofs in Colorado.
Solar panels don’t weigh very much, so the stress on your home’s roof is likely to be negligible at most, but you will want to assess what kind of impact the installation will have. Usually, solar panels are mounted on the roof, but they can certainly be installed on poles in an unused section of your lawn.
On the roof, installations are installed on strong brackets or mounts so that you have the fewest number needed to have a sturdy installation without disrupting your roof’s integrity. Each mount needs to be flashed, so the roof doesn’t leak after installation. So the fewer mounts the better.
Consult with an electrician and plan how the system will work with your present wiring. Remember, you also need to find space to store large batteries if you use them. You also need a convenient location for the meters that monitor your system. You don’t want to have to climb into the attic or dash down into the basement every time you need to monitor your home’s energy use and battery storage.
Call your local government and speak to the building code officers about what can and what cannot be done and what kind of inspections may be required. Even if you know the solar panel systems are permitted in your area, you still need to know what regulatory steps might be needed from obtaining approval for the project to having the work inspected after it is done.
Once you make the decision to install a solar panel system, put together a safety plan so that you can have an accident-free installation process.
This may require installing temporary guard rails or fencing arrangements on your roof. It may involve the use of harnesses to ensure the safety of someone working on a slanted roof.
If you are a contractor, a roofer or an electrician, there are parts of the solar array installation that you could do yourself. But largely this is a time to look through the phone book and find out who has the experience and expertise to install your system for you.
In general, unless there are special circumstances in your case, installing a solar system for your home is not prohibitively expensive. We’re talking about installing brackets on your roof, flashing around each bracket to make sure the integrity of the roof is intact and doing what could be one or two days worth of wiring.
Images: 1 to 5: Kipnis Architecture + Planning.
6 & 7: Palo Santo Designs LLC. (Kate Russell Photography).
I hope you enjoyed your time here, my friends!
We’ll talk again tomorrow.
Luciane from HomeBunch.com
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