If you are planning to power your home with solar power, there are several steps that you will have to follow to make sure that you set up your solar system correctly.
Your local utility company, as well as your local solar energy installer, will be able to help you to provide the exact steps that you will need to take to power your home with this form of energy.
Below are the steps that you will need to follow in order to power your home.
1. Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Before you begin to start the process of installing solar energy, you will need to investigate your energy use. This should be the first thing that you do with your solar system plan. During this investigation, you will also want to see if there are things that you can do to upgrade your efficiency. You should sit down and figure out your total electric usage in order to consider changing over to low-cost efficiency measures before going with solar energy.
Here are some of the things that you can do to help lower cost:
- Home energy audit. Complete a home energy audit that will help you to understand where your electricity goes and whether or not you are losing electricity needlessly.
- Appliances and electronics. Consider changing out your appliances and electronics to high-efficiency models. If you cannot do this look into cutting out usage as much as possible.
- Lighting. If you have not already done so, switch to energy efficient lighting like LED light bulbs.
- Heating and cooling. An HVAC system uses a lot of energy and this will significantly affect the amount of energy that you use with your solar system. Consider weatherizing your home as well as looking at alternate cooling and heating sources.
2. Solar Potential
The next step when you decide to invest solar power after you have investigated your home’s energy efficiency, will be to look at your home’s solar potential. PV technologies will use both scattered and direct sunlight to create power. You will want to figure out how much power you can generate in your particular site. There are several tools and mapping services available that will help you determine the potential of solar energy on your property. These solar pv tools will help you to determine if your home is suitable for solar. Not every home will be suitable for solar due to the fact that the area might not get the sun that the solar system needs to function properly. Working with a solar installer can help you to accurately assess your solar potential.
You will want to consider the following:
- Roof. You will want to consider the age of your roof and whether or not it will need to be replaced. If you think that you will need to replace your roof in the next couple years, you will need to go ahead and do that before you attached rooftop solar.
- Shade trees. You will want to take a look at where you plan to put your solar system. If there are shade trees in the area either on your property or your neighbors that could grow up in the shade your solar system, you will need to take this into consideration. If your system becomes shaded, it will not produce the power it should.
- HOA. In many neighborhoods, you will have a homeowners association. These associations will have additional restrictions or requirements. You will need to check with your HOA to ensure that you are allowed to have solar on your property.
3. Options for Using Solar
In times past, the only way that you can get solar is if you purchase the system and install it yourself. However, this is no longer the only option. There are many programs available that will allow you to benefit from solar electricity even if you rent your home or you do not want to purchase solar roofing.
Here are some of the options that you will find available to you:
- Community or shared solar. This is where people in your community will share the system. This will require the use of virtual net metering. The virtual net metering will allow you to get credits on your electric bill for what your solar garden contributes.
- Solar leases. If you cannot afford an outright system, you will be able to lease one.
- Solarize program. A program that may allow you to get a discount system or participate in one.
- Purchasing a solar energy system. There are various places and companies where you can purchase a complete solar energy system.
- Power purchase agreement. This third party agreement allows you to have solar from a party that places the equipment on your property.
4. Bids and Assessments from A Solar Installer
When considering using solar generated power, you will want to make sure that you research professional installers that are experts in solar generated power. A professional installer will be able to come up with a solar system unit plan that will generate enough power for your needs. When you invest in solar power, you will want to make sure that you hire the best of the best. Anyone that you hire should have the standard certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Make sure that you ask for proof of this certification before having the installer come out.
When you interview installers, think about the following:
- You will want to make sure that the company knows all about local building permits as well as interconnections.
- Look for references from other people that have used the company for their solar installation.
- Make sure that you ask for warranty information. This is imperative to make sure that your solar system functions well. Most solar equipment is backed by a 20-year warranty for the panels and a 10-year warranty for the inverters. If you need an inverter replacement before 10 years is up, the company should replace it for you.
- Make sure that the company does not have any liens or active judgments. This will help to protect your investment as well as ensure the company is a legitimate solar provider. You can check for this information at your state’s electrical board. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau.
When you get a bid when you decide to invest solar power, you will want to make sure the maximum generating capacity of the system is clearly listed. This will help you to determine your utility costs vs. your current utility bills.
The bid should also include the price of getting the photovoltaic pv system up and running. This should include everything that your system needs, including hardware and installation, connections, permitting, warranty and any sales tax. Installers may also give you a list of various sizes that may work for your home and those prices.
Financing and other Incentives
When you decide to invest in a solar rooftop system or other solar systems, you will be eligible to receive a 30% tax credit. This tax credit is federal and will be gone by the year 2021. If you get your solar powered system by lease or a power purchase agreement you will not be eligible for this tax benefit as you will not be the owner of the system. To find out about more tax incentives and other incentives you can go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
Affording the new system, whether you do DIY solar or hire a company, can be difficult. You will want to check into various solar financing options. Go to the Clean Energy States Alliance guide and the Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar to find out more information on potential financing options.
Doing Solar Yourself
It is possible to do DIY solar power. You will need to take the time to do your research to install a photovoltaic pv system. You will need to check out things like what kind of solar PV tools you need. You also need to figure out what size you need, how to install, and more. You will need to make sure that you are an expert on things like panel installation, battery installation, and inverter replacement. There are many resources online that can help you to come up with a solar system unit plan that can help you to create a solar rooftop system that powers your entire home. However, it is imperative that if you decide to do it yourself, you still check out all the regulations in your area and secure any permits you need. You also want to make sure they take your time to ensure that your solar system functions properly. If one component is installed on your solar system incorrectly, you will not have any power.
Going with a solar system whether you do DIY solar power, or you have a professional install can help you to be self-sufficient. However, it is important that you follow all state laws and regulations when it comes to installing a solar system. If you do hire a company, you will want to make sure that they are up-to-date with all local laws and regulations and have extensive experience in installing properly sized solar power systems.