For today's post, I’d like to address the fundamental question that we would get when I worked with a local installer....Is solar right for me?
As many have heard of exciting growth in the solar industry, this has become a major question for home and business owners.
I want to begin by offering a list of basic questions that we would ask or receive from homeowners during the initial phase of a solar consultation. Keep in mind that there are other qualifiers as well, and these merely serve as the basics.
What is your primary motivation for going solar?
- Reduce Environmental Footprint
- Save money on electricity costs
- Tired of only having one option of an electricity provider
- It's the right thing to do to protect and provide a clean future for the next generation.
We would get many different responses to this, but most would fall among the previous four categories.
Have you addressed Energy efficiency within the home?
It might be helpful here to view your home as an active system of which solar is a piece of the pie. By addressing points of inefficiency within the home, you can drastically reduce the size of solar system you would need on the roof. A standard comparison of this is for every $3 you spend on the home in energy efficiency; you can save up to $7 in solar panel cost.
Does your roof get a reasonable amount of sun?
To address this, we typically would advise them on a couple of methods of determining this. Google Project Sunroof has developed an exciting resource for this, and there are others as well. Just plug in your address and they will analyze aerial photographs and 3D models to determine the solar potential of your home. Taking photos of your south facing roof at different times of the day (especially during winter) can be a good strategy as well. Obviously, this isn’t perfect, but it's a great place to start. Before contacting an installer, I would at least have an answer to this fundamental question.
Is there a utility or state incentive for installing solar in your area?
Most installers will have knowledge of this, but it can be a good idea to research ahead of time. Within the US, home and business owners can qualify for a 30% Federal tax credit (FTC) if they have the appropriate tax appetite. In other words, if the home or business owner pays enough in federal tax they can reduce their tax liability by 30% of the solar installation cost. Additional benefits like depreciation may also exist for the business owner in addition to the tax credit. Consulting a tax professional would be beneficial here to understand how you may qualify.
Additional utility incentives may exist, but you will want to know what accepting these incentives will mean for you. Keep in mind that although they may be attractive now, solar is a long term investment and changes from the utility may affect the return on your investment. Don’t let this scare you away but it is something you will want to be mindful of before investing in a solar system.
What size investment fits within your budget?
Most panel installation can run anywhere between 12-60k for a residential home before any tax credits or utility incentives. There are of course loan options available that can work well with the tax system, but you do want to be aware of the potential investment size.
Can I complete the installation by myself?
In short some can but for the vast majority, I would not advise it. When working for the local installer, we would get many calls from people that had gotten in way over their head and needed someone to come bail them out. Find an installer that you feel comfortable with that has a proven track record and go with them. Keep in mind that this system will be in place for 25+ years. It pays to have it done right for you the first time.
Thanks, Guys...I hope this is helpful. If you have additional questions, please feel free to email me and I will try to direct you towards the proper resources.