So you’ve made the decision to switch to renewable energy to power your home, and have started exploring how to do it. You’re off to a strong start! But it’s important to be sure you’ve covered all of your bases in planning out your next steps. While investing in solar for your home is a fairly simple and straightforward process, there are still many lesser-known details involved that tend to surprise people once they begin.
With that in mind, here are a few things to consider before fully making the switch to solar energy. Knowing these will help you make a plan that moves the process along even more smoothly!
Know Your Solar Panel Options
Did you know that not all solar panels are the same? It’s true: the first choice you’ll face likely will be between photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and solar thermal panels. That said, PV solar panels are the more common option, as well as the more durable choice. It can help to know, though, that solar thermal panels are more efficient (with all sun conditions being equal).
Other components that can vary based on the type of solar panels you purchase – as well as from whom you purchase them – include quality of performance, warranty, and longevity. Spend some time researching different companies and people’s reviews of them in order to better understand what they have to offer, and to know what your home needs.
Know Whether You Need a Permit
Compliance with local ordinances is really important when it comes to installing solar panels. Every state, city, and/or county is going to have its own set of rules for this, so take some time to look into what your area requires. Look into resources that can guide you along this process. Your city or county government is likely to have a few online tools that can help clarify it.
Once you’re familiar with the rules and regulations, start applying for the permits that you’ll need, and be conscientious of the time it might take for them to be approved. It’s a necessary piece of the solar panel installation puzzle, and it definitely requires time, attention, and patience.
Know About Local Solar Incentives
Incentives and rebates are another aspect of solar panel installation that will vary based on location. These can be a great way to offset the cost of adding solar panels to your home. Look into any available state-based tax breaks and rebates in order to see what benefits you could be eligible for. It can also help to explore the federal tax credits that are available to homeowners who invest in solar energy. These incentives are just one way that investing in energy-efficiency can give back to you.
Know the General Costs
Solar panels will, in all likelihood, save you money in the long run. However, that’s after paying for the initial costs of installation and for the panels themselves. Make sure that you are either in a position to cover these costs, or ready to finance the purchase. Or, you can delve into what it would look like to rent solar panels, a viable option in its own right.
You should also know that installation will most likely require you to hire a contractor, which is another separate cost. Other add-on costs might be for modifications to your home that make the panels easier to install, or for permits needed to complete the installation process. Be sure to do some number-crunching before undergoing these steps so there aren’t any surprises, and so you can be more satisfied with your purchase.
Know Your Energy Needs
When it comes time to install solar panels, your basis should be knowing how many solar panels you will need, which is related to your home’s energy usage and needs. There are a few key factors that you need to look at to calculate these needs. They primarily include:
- Your home’s average energy consumption
- The peak hours of sunlight your home receives
- Your home’s size in square footage
Once you have a solid idea of what each of these looks like, you can match those up with the solar panel options that are available. You want to make sure that the panels you select are going to carry your home’s energetic load, and ultimately pay off in the long run.
Take the First Steps Toward Renewability
The more time, effort, and energy you put into preparing for your switch to solar, the happier you’ll be with your decision. Making moves toward renewable energy is a process, and one that asks you to be measured and detail-oriented. Fortunately, doing so pays off in more ways than one. To get a stronger understanding of what switching to solar power really means, take advantage of online resources from experts, and talk to people you know who’ve already made the change. You’ll feel more informed and more ready than ever before.