Modern solar panel systems allow every building under two stories to turn into a net solar generator. You’re good to go as long as the roof gets a good amount of sun.
However, with so much information available, it can be challenging to figure out what’s involved in converting your home to solar power.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to solar conversion, there are three general steps every homeowner should take.
3 Steps To Go Solar Today
Below are three general steps that you should take if you’re interested in converting your home to solar power:
1: Start At The Right Place
Many solar projects fail halfway through. These projects failed because the homeowner didn’t consider everything that goes into installing a solar system. Here’s what you need to do to ensure a solid start for your solar project.
Choose the Right Installer
The installer you choose can make or break your solar experience. You need to invest time, energy, and resources into finding the best installer in your area.
Since this is a colossal project, choosing the cheapest quote might not be the best option.
Instead, get multiple quotes and compare them side-by-side. Comparing solar power prices is relatively straightforward, even when installers use different systems and components.
Take the total installation amount and divide it by the number of KW/h your solar system will generate. You’ll end up with a cost per KW/h. Use this cost to compare different quotes from different suppliers.
For example, Installer A quotes a system that generates 10KW/h at $12,000. It means you’re paying $1,200 per KW/h.
Suppose Installer B has a system that generates 14kw/h at $16,250. You’ll pay $1,160 per KW/h. This price and the larger capacity make solar installer B a better option.
A good installer should also:
- Draw plans: You need to have detailed plans before you start the installation process. This covers everything from the system’s wiring to the layout of panels on your roof.
- Get the necessary permits: Most solar installations require a permit from your local municipality. You need to ensure that the installation follows whatever local laws there are to avoid liability on your part.
- Schedule inspections: Once the installation is complete, the municipality needs to inspect the work to ensure it meets all the required standards. The installer should schedule these inspections for you.
Do A Complete Inspection
You and your potential solar installer need to do a complete inspection of your property before you commit to anything.
Invite several installers to your property and have them perform a thorough analysis.
After the analysis, each installer should provide a detailed proposal outlining the project, including the equipment used, estimated cost, and timeline.
This proposal gives you a good starting point and helps you choose the best installer you can afford.
It also helps solar installers plan your system better. They’ll be able to observe:
- The angle of your roof: The tilt of the panels is important because your panels will produce more energy when the sun is directly perpendicular to them. For example, the sun is low on the horizon during winter in the northern hemisphere. In this case, a steep angle of 60° is best for solar panels to get the best performance.
- Shade: Shade hampers the efficiency of your solar system. Your solar installer will inspect your roof to determine whether any shade from tall trees, buildings, or other structures will affect your solar system.
- Wiring: During the roof inspection, the solar installer will also determine the optimal layout of any wiring and cables. Not only should wires be insulated, but they should also be placed so that they don’t detract from the aesthetics of your home. Exposed wiring could also be an electrical risk.
The site inspection is a crucial part of any solar project. Only after you’ve gone through your solar installer’s proposed plan should you commence with your solar system. A well-planned system will be easier and faster to install.
2: Decide To Buy Or Rent
While most people will tend towards buying all the equipment to convert their house to solar power outright, that might not be the best decision. Leasing solar equipment from a third party to provide power can be more cost-effective in the long run.
Buying a Solar Power System
Buying a solar panel is one of the best ways to reap the maximum financial benefits of solar energy.
When you buy a solar panel, you own it outright. You can take advantage of all the tax incentives and rebates available.
You can either pay cash, which requires a significant investment but offers the most savings in the long run or finance your purchase with a solar loan.
Solar loans have become increasingly popular in recent years as they offer a way to go solar with little or no money. You can use the loan to finance the entire cost of your system and pay it back over time, usually at a lower interest rate than a traditional home loan.
Considering a typical solar panel system can cost as much as $10,000, solar loans offer a great way to go solar without breaking the bank.
Renting a Solar Power System
You can rent the equipment for your solar power system if you don’t have the cash or the credit to buy them.
Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) are two popular options for renting solar panels.
With a solar lease, you agree to pay a fixed monthly rate for the solar panel for a specified period, usually 20 years.
PPAs are an agreement to pay for your solar panel’s electricity at a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This option is similar to signing up for a traditional utility plan, except you get your power from a solar panel instead of the grid.
Both solar leases and PPAs offer a way to go solar with little or no money.
Both options are great for homeowners who want to reduce their electric bills but can’t afford the upfront cost of buying a solar panel outright.
However, a lease can be complex, especially if you decide to sell your home before the lease is up. You will need to find a buyer willing to take over the lease, which can be difficult.
If the buyer agrees, then they must qualify for the lease. This can be a lengthy and complicated process. You need to be aware of the downsides of leasing before you sign any contracts.
3: Understand Tax Credits And Rebates
The federal government offers a tax credit for solar energy systems that offsets 26% of the installation cost. This tax credit is a great incentive for homeowners considering going solar.
In addition, many states offer their own rebates and incentives for solar energy systems. These can vary significantly from state to state, so it’s essential to do your research before you decide to go solar.
On top of federal and state incentives, many utility companies offer their own rebates and incentives for solar energy systems.
They understand that solar energy benefits the environment and helps reduce grid demand. They are often willing to offer significant rebates to encourage homeowners to go solar.
Suppose you want to learn more about the rebates and incentives available in your area. In that case, this Solar Power in Your Community guidebook (PDF) has a section—Appendix A on page 87—that explains it in detail.
Tax credits and rebates help to offset the cost of solar panels, making them more affordable for homeowners. However, it’s essential to understand that these incentives can change over time.
The federal tax credit is set to go down to 22% in 2023.
If you’re considering going solar, you should do it sooner rather than later to take advantage of this current incentive.
The Benefits of a Solar Power System For Your Home
Solar power systems offer a plethora of benefits, including:
Lowers Electric Bills
One of the most expensive bills homeowners have to pay is their electric bill. Solar power can help to lower these bills significantly.
In fact, the average homeowner who installs an adequately sized solar power system can expect to save about $115 per month, which translates to a savings of about $1,380 per year.
This savings can be even greater if you live in a state with high electric rates or you have a higher than average electric bill. In these cases, solar power can offset a significant portion of your electric bill.
Solar power systems are also eligible for net metering in most states. Net metering is a program that allows you to sell the excess electricity that your solar panel produces back to the utility company.
Net metering can further offset the cost of your electric bill. In some cases, it even results in a credit on your account.
Solar power systems also generate electricity during the daytime, when most homes use the most power. Your home will use less power from the grid, which will translate to lower electric bills.
Reduces Environmental Impact
Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source that doesn’t produce harmful emissions. You’ll do your part to help the environment by reducing your home’s carbon footprint.
If you have a solar power system installed in your home, you can expect to offset about 96 million metric tons of carbon dioxide throughout its lifetime. This amount is the equivalent of planting about 24 acres of trees.
Apart from reducing the carbon footprint, solar offers other environmental benefits, including:
- Solar panels are made to be 100% recyclable at the end of their useful life.
- Solar farms can help reduce the amount of land used for energy production.
- Solar panels produce enough energy in two years to offset the required to manufacture them.
- Solar water heaters can displace the need for natural gas or propane water heaters, which further reduces emissions.
- Solar panels don’t require water to operate, unlike coal or natural gas power plants.
Solar Energy Increases Home Value
Homes with solar power systems have been shown to sell 20% faster and for 17% more money than homes without solar power systems.
Experts believe solar can propel the value of a property to as much as $17,000.
The average solar panel lasts for about 30 years. So, if you decide to sell your home, the solar panel will likely still be in good condition and will add value to the sale of your home.
Go Solar Today, And Embrace A Clean, Affordable Future
So now that you know what it takes to convert to solar energy, what are you waiting for!? Not only will you be doing your part for the environment, but you’ll also be saving money on your electric bills. It’s a win-win!
If you’re interested in starting the process of investing in solar panels, click here to get a free solar panel quote today. Solving Solar works with solar panel installers all around the country, so when you request a quote with us, the installers fight over your business. Find out why so many Americans are switching to solar today!