There’s more to installing solar panels than just knowing your roof type. Keep reading for eight key things you should consider before installing solar panels.

1.47 million — that’s how many solar panels existed in the U.S. at the end of 2018. The number continues to grow exponentially as residents and businessmen alike recognize the benefits of using solar energy.

You may be interested in getting your foot in the door of this money-saving and environment-helping technology. As you can guess, it’s not as easy as buying a couple of panels at the store and throwing them up on your roof.

Here are eight key things to consider before installing solar panels to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

1. Your Roof

Your Roof
It’s an obvious consideration, but what’s your roof like?

If it’s falling apart or needs repairs, you should get those taken care of before considering solar. Panels typically last at least 15-20 years with maintenance, so make sure your roof will last that long too, even if that means making repairs now.

Otherwise, you’ll have to have someone demount the panels when repair time comes—an avoidable cost if you’re forward-thinking.

One of the repairs to consider is the roof’s weight-bearing capabilities. Roofs hold certain amounts of live loads (temporary weight) and dead loads (permanent weight). Solar panels are a dead load that needs certain weight clearance, so don’t overlook that aspect before diving into a contract.

Even if you don’t need major repairs, consider how water drains off your roof and if the panels will re-direct rain when they’re mounted. You don’t want any new leaks as a result of changing the water flow.

Aside from the condition of your roof, consider its shape and the directions it faces. The ideal solar set up is on a south-facing side with plenty of room for the number of panels you need.

2. Sunlight

Solar energy comes from the sun, so your roof needs to be in a position to get the most out of daylight. That’s why south-facing sides are best.

Consider the adult and adolescent trees surrounding your house. If there are only a couple, you may need to do some landscaping to prevent it from blocking light. If there are more than that, you have to get creative with your solar installation.

Another thing to think about regarding sunlight is the weather. Do you live in an area that experiences prolonged periods without sunlight, like a rainy season or snow season? Don’t forget to factor in these times when calculating how much energy you can produce.

3. Energy Use

Energy Us
To know how much solar you need, you first must know how much energy you use.

You can see your total energy use on your power bill. Before installing solar, find out which appliances are using the most energy and see if you can make cut-backs through energy-saving techniques or high-efficiency appliances.

Here’s a chart to get an idea of the average energy use of typical household appliances.

Once you’ve done what you can to reduce your energy consumption, you can calculate how many panels are required to meet your energy needs.

Solar Panel Options

There are two main categories of solar: thermal and photovoltaic.

Thermal converts sunlight directly into heat. It’s not as practical or common for residential use.

Photovoltaic, on the other hand, converts sunlight into electricity. There are several different types of photovoltaic panels that use sunlight, heat reflection, convection, and circulation.

Amongst these photovoltaics are a wide variety of brands and options to choose from. Each person’s needs are different, so do your research to find out which is best for your home. You can start by checking out this article on the best solar panel kit on the market.

5. Logistics

Even though it seems like anyone should be able to use the free, renewable resource of the sun, there are laws surrounding commercial and residential solar use.

Check your local and state legislation to find out the legal restrictions and requirements for using solar power in your area. Don’t forget to ask about getting hooked up to the grid, fees, credits for generating electricity, and tax breaks.

6. Installer

Unless you have a background in electrical work, you’re going to want to hire a professional to install your kit.

Find an installer or company like Novasolar who has years of experience and customer reviews. Also make sure they’re board-certified by a national group, such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Once your panels go up, they won’t need much maintenance. However, they do require a little bit over the span of their entire lifetime, so you’ll want to find a trustworthy company to install and maintain your equipment.

7. Contracts

Once you’re set on your panels and contractor of choice, you’ll want to make sure the contract is clear and concise.

It should outline the data sharing, financing, ownership, performance expectations, and safety standards regarding the panels.

Don’t be afraid to be thorough and ask a lot of questions in this process. It’s a huge investment, after all.

Research, Research, Research

We’ll say it three times for emphasis.

Make sure to become as educated as possible about solar power before purchasing anything. You should understand what you’re getting yourself into.

Find out what it’s going to cost and what it will save you to understand your return on investment.

Look into the warranties included and what they cover. If they don’t cover all of the potential problems that could come up, consider getting additional insurance for your panels.

The industry standard for solar panel warranties spans between 25 and 30 years for the panels and 2 to 10 years for the installation. Don’t assume this is the case when going solar — do your research.

Soak Up the Sun with Solar Panels

Keep learning about solar panels and make a plan to invest in some in the near future. They’re well worth it for the environment and your power bill.
Keep reading our blog for more home ideas and tips.