10 Things to Know Before You Go Solar

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Solar energy is a fast-moving industry in the United States and new developments happen quickly and often. That fast pace can sometimes leave consumers a little bewildered and wondering just what solar energy can do for them.

Of course solar energy can reduce your power costs, make your home or business “greener,” and lower your carbon footprint. But that still leaves a lot of questions about whether solar power is right for you.

Here are 10 things you to know before going solar with some help from SolarEnergy.net.

1. Make sure you understand your utility company’s rates
In many areas, there are different “tiers” of usage and each has a different formula to calculate cost. Higher energy usage tiers have higher rates. In these schemes you pay more as your energy demands increase. However, going solar can affect these tiers and sometimes eliminate higher rates. Therefore, the more you are spending on electricity currently, the higher the ROI (Return on Investment) you will enjoy on an installed solar system.

2. Get an accurate idea of the amount of energy your home uses each month
This includes anticipating changes in your energy use. A growing family, for example, will face growing energy needs, but if you have college-age kids ready to leave the nest, you can expect your energy costs to go down. You can also make some changes to lower your electric use before going solar, such as replacing incandescent bulbs and installing more efficient appliances and devices. TerraSol Energies can help you make an energy plan that anticipates your future needs as well as your current usage.

3. You don’t have to have a south facing roof
Ideally, of course, solar panel systems should be on the southwest-facing area of your roof. Truth be told, the direction your panels face is not as important as you may think. Positioning the panels to face west or south will work, and even southeast, east, and north-northwest give acceptable results, too.

4. Solar will not add to property tax
Adding a solar panel system will not cause a reassessment of your property. Reassessments are triggered by room additions or other construction that increases the square footage of the structure. In most states – including New Jersey – the addition of solar panels are exempt from property taxes.

5. Learn your solar warranties
Learn about the two kinds of solar system warranties that are normally offered. The first one is the panel and inverter manufacturer warranty, which are usually 20-25 years on panels and 5-10 years on the inverters. Not all solar warranties are created equal, SunPower offers industry leading warranties with 25-year expansive warranty on the entire solar system components. From panels to inverters, you are covered. Installers should also offer a warranty on the quality of their work, which means guaranteeing they made no holes in your roof likely to lead to leaks for a specified period, from two to 5 years, normally. Remember that neither of these warranties covers theft, fire, or other damage, so follow up on #6 above and get the system added on to your homeowner policy.

6. How long solar panels last
Generally speaking, a solar panel will last 30 years or more and lose only about ½ percent (0.5%) conversion efficiency annually. Once your system is flipped one, virtually no maintenance is required for the life of the system. And, with online monitoring available with every system, you can rest easy knowing that your solar system is running behind the scenes as expected. Hosing the panels off a few times during the summer and keeping leaves off them in the fall is about the only maintenance required.

7. Solar panels will not harm your roof
The panels will not harm your roof in any way when properly installed. Actually, the panels protect the areas located directly beneath them from weather, light, and heat. You may even find that the room(s) of your home directly beneath the panel installations will remain cooler in summer and warmer in winter, regardless of the other insulation. You can save heating and cooling costs when you install your panels wisely. Proper home preparation, and choosing an installer like TerraSol Energies will go a long way to ensuring a job done right.
8. Your roof type can impact cost
The kind of roof you have makes a big difference in installation costs. It will definitely be costlier to install solar panels on Spanish tile or shake than on plain old asphalt shingle roofs. Both tile and shake are far more brittle than asphalt shingles, so additional time-intensive care is needed to ensure that any attachment points penetrating the roof are completely and properly sealed. This extra time can add 10% to 25% additional cost to the installation job.

9. You should insure your solar investment
After installation, contact your homeowner’s insurance company and have your policy amended. You will face an increase on your property insurance of probably less than $10 a month, but protecting your system from fires or other damage is critical.

10. Solar batteries mean no rebates
Most consumers won’t worry about using batteries for off hours unless building a self-contained home or living compound. It’s better to stay “on the grid” in a populated area and continue to get power at night from the local utility, just as you are doing today. More importantly, most solar rebate incentives don’t trigger unless your system is tied to the grid.

Would you like more information on installing solar panels on your business or home? Call us at 888.873.9995.