Before installing solar panels on your roof, here are 10 things you should consider.
Some states rank higher for solar-friendliness, so it’s important to consider where you live when considering renewables. Research your state’s regulations, such as savings for each kilowatt hour (KWh) of solar and financing options.
Individual states’ solar capacities also say a lot about whether solar may be worth it for your home. California continues to lead in solar energy with 10 million systems installed on residential rooftops. Meanwhile, Indiana ranked 32nd in the U.S. for solar panel installations in 2020 and is now in 6th place.
Now is the time to jump on the solar panel bandwagon if you hope to take advantage of federal incentives. The federal tax rebate stands at 26% until the end of 2022 before dipping to 22% and phasing out entirely afterward.
You can claim your residential solar energy credit on your federal income taxes to offset the cost of your photovoltaic (PV) system. However, your system must be installed and generate electricity within the tax year to qualify.
Many states and cities offer rebates to help offset the costs of installing solar panels. Check with your municipal offices and solar company to determine if rebates are available or for recommendations. Homeowners may reduce solar panel costs by 10-20% with state rebates.
Solar panels don’t necessarily require direct sunlight to store energy. However, your home’s peak sun hours usually determine your savings potential.
Peak sun hours vary by state, but 4 hours of peak sunlight is considered suitable for solar panel systems. For instance, Nevada receives 6 to 7.5 hours of sun, while Connecticut usually has 3. Although it isn’t impossible to reap solar rewards in New England, Nevada homeowners will save more.
You can utilize Google’s Project Sunroof tool to determine how many peak sun hours your solar panels would get.
Since the standard life expectancy is 25-30 years for solar panels, you should hire a professional to inspect your roof before installation.
Your roof needs to be in good condition for various reasons, such as to support the weight of your solar panels. Also, installing a system is pointless if your roof needs repairing or replacing in a few years.
Buying your solar system outright will allow you to make ample savings after accounting for the initial investment of $30,000 – although rebates, tax credits, and other incentives usually reduce costs to about $7,750.
However, you can avoid the initial costs when you lease your system. The solar company owns the system with a lease, requiring you to pay them a monthly fixed rate. Most contracts last 20 or 25 years, at which time homeowners may buy their systems outright or renew.
Although most commercial solar panels are 14-16% energy-efficient, technology advancements have resulted in higher efficiencies of 44.5%. Still, solar panels can only perform during daylight hours, meaning many homeowners remain grid-tied.
Off-grid systems have their challenges anyway. Since you won’t remain connected to your city’s utilities, you’ll need substantial energy storage capacity.
Maintaining solar panels is vital to ensure their performance. Fortunately, they require very little upkeep.
Generally, you should clean your system twice yearly to brush away dirt and debris. A yearly inspection might also be necessary.
Warranties will help protect your panels and related equipment in the event of damage. Some of the most common contracts include:
- Product warranty: Covers your system for its life expectancy of 25-30 years.
- Workmanship warranty: Lasts 10-12 years to ensure proper installation and replacement parts.
- Inverter warranty: Covers defective materials but not maintenance issues or weathering.
Ask your contractor what types of warranties are available beforehand.
Roof-mounted systems require drilling holes in the roof to hold the fastener attachments for your panels. While this isn’t a big deal, you might be responsible for repairs if you move.
You can also uninstall and take your system with you at a price. The cost to disassemble, pack, ship, and reinstall your panels may be between $4,000 and $8,000 not counting the fees for repairs and permitting.
Conversely, a Zillow report found that homes with solar panels may sell for 4.1% more than others – an additional $9,274.
After considering these factors, you might find that solar panels are the right choice. Do the research to find a trusted contractor to help you make the best product choice for your home.
See more posts from Jane Marsh at environment.co
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