Solar Panels in Your Home: A Good Investment
Installing in solar panels is good for you and the environment, in most cases. However, everyone’s situation is unique. If this is a smart investment for you depends on where you live, the design of your home, the cost of installing the panels, and the savings you may receive.
How You Can Save Money by Going Solar
One reason more people than ever are gravitating to solar panel installation is the potential savings they offer. In sunny places like Houston or Albany, getting solar panels might be worth it. The biggest of these money-saving opportunities is the 30% federal tax credit you can receive on the total cost of your system. This means homeowners (non-renters) can subtract the credit from the income taxes they owe the federal government. This will reduce the cost of purchasing a solar system by up to one-third, in some cases.
Keep in mind, this credit will not stick around forever. In 2020 it fell to 26%, will fall to 22% in 2021, then it will disappear altogether. You may be able to save $5,000 or more, but this depends on the system’s size.
While this may seem obvious, for a solar system to provide these savings, access to the sun is essential. If your roof is shaded by buildings, mountains, trees, or anything else, your solar panels won’t work as they should.
You also need to have a basic idea of how solar panels work. Also called photovoltaic panels, these are mounted on your home’s roof and will use the sunlight to create electricity. The inverter which is often installed in your garage is what converts electricity created by the panels (DC) into the type needed to operate your appliances (AC).
Sometimes, the panels will create more electricity than what is needed to power your home. The excess electricity can be sold to your power company through an agreement referred to as net metering. This is done with a two-way meter your electric company will install, and with this in place, you will likely see reductions in your home’s energy costs.
Do Research First
Chances are, you would not purchase a car if you did not check out the features or know the price and compare the models, right? This is even more the case with solar panels, which will probably remain on your roof for a minimum of 25 years. This is something that people must do their homeowner on before they install solar panels or choose a company to do this for them.
Some of the things to consider when deciding what solar panels to install include the following.
Ask Homeowners Who Have Purchased the Panels Their Impression
Find out what the potential benefits and drawbacks are. Ask about the installation time and if the installer did a good job. What about the power company – were they easy to work with? How much money is the homeowner now saving? It is these questions that can help you learn more about a solar company you are thinking about working with.
Be sure to search the company you are considering on various online review sites. There are some people who have complained about poor installation, misleading sales pitches, and confusing contracts. You can view a list of certified installers provided by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners to learn more about the options in your local area.
Get Several Estimates
Make sure you ask several service providers about their service, ask plenty of questions, and do not be hurried to make a snap decision. Remember, solar panels are not cheap, and they require you to make an investment. Get proposals from companies that have different product brands, methods, ideologies, and information to help you make the right decision.
Figure Out What You Need
A solar system is sized based on your home’s consumption needs, the size of the sunny area on your roof, and what you can afford. The bigger your system is, the more energy it will produce, but the more expensive it will be.
Only Sign a Contract if You Understand Everything
You should ask plenty of questions about the services before signing a contract. This should include the return on investment you can expect to see along with the break-even point. If you live in an area where electric rates are high, you will pay the cost of this off much sooner.
Decide How You Will Pay for the System
Are you going to buy your solar system outright, lease it, or opt for a solar power purchase agreement? This is a situation where you purchase the power but who does not own the system. If you cannot pay for the system upfront, you can avoid having to pay the finance charges, but still get the benefits of the federal tax credit. You should also consider bids from both smaller and larger installers, as the smaller ones will likely be more affordable.