Increasing interest in alternative energy sources is being fueled by decreasing costs for rooftop solar systems, the availability of financial incentives and the proliferation of companies offering solar panel installation services.
However, as attractive and popular as rooftop solar may appear, it is important for consumers to fully understand its true costs, the operational reality of this form of energy and actual energy savings. To determine whether rooftop solar is right for their particular situation, homeowners should do their due diligence.
Is Rooftop Solar Right for You?
Solar panel companies have one objective: to sell their products and services. For that reason, it’s important to have a knowledgeable and trusted expert who isn’t a salesperson help you determine the best options for your home. While rooftop solar certainly works for many people, it’s not the answer for all.
To help determine whether rooftop solar is right for you, have a trusted expert consider the following:
- Overall energy efficiency of the home or building.
- Age and pitch of the roof.
- Orientation of the sun in relation to the home or building.
- Tree coverage near the home or building.
- Weather patterns for the region.
You also need to weigh many financial considerations before installing rooftop solar:
- Is there a large, upfront payment required, or are fees spread out over time?
- Will the homeowner own the panels, or will they be leased?
- Are there any hidden costs? For example, does the roof need to be replaced before installing the panels?
- Are there ongoing maintenance fees?
- Are there rebates or other financial incentives available?
- Are the estimated energy savings worth the investment?
- Is it more cost-effective to invest in other energy-saving measures?
- Are you familiar with MVEC’s net metering policy?
When assessing solar options, it is an excellent time to examine other potential energy efficiency improvements for your home. For example, it may make sense to insulate the attic while also installing solar panels.
Magic Valley Electric Cooperative recognizes that consumer interest in green energy sources and renewables is at an all-time high, and we stand ready to help our members determine their best options.
Questions to Ask When Considering Solar Panels
You have until the end of 2020 to take advantage of a 26 percent federal tax credit for installing solar panels on the roof of your home. Here are some questions to ask before you invest in them:
- Does your roof face south? Solar panels are most effective on south-facing roofs and least effective on north-facing roofs.
- Is your property shady? The sun needs to hit the panels at least five hours a day, so if trees or buildings block the sun from shining on your roof, solar panels can’t do their job.
- Is your roof big enough? The average rooftop solar system contains 20 panels to produce enough energy for meaningful energy savings. To accommodate those panels, you should have at least 500 square feet of roof.
- How slanted is your roof? If the pitch of your roof is greater than 45 degrees, the sun might not reach one side of your house. The ideal pitch is 30 degrees.
- What is your roof made of? Asphalt shingles and corrugated metal roofs are perfect for solar panels. Slate, tile and wood roofs are not.
- Do you need a new roof? If so, get it before you install solar panels. It’s expensive to remove and reinstall panels.