Once considered a trend geared towards ecologically inclined individuals, solar panel systems are now in high demand amid both the business and home construction industries today. Beyond saving the planet, homeowners who invest in solar energy save money. In fact, there are even generous government tax incentives for solar installations that help owners fit them into the budget. Lower prices and tax incentives can ultimately allow this investment to pay for itself within a few years. However, this does not necessarily mean that a system will benefit every homeowner, so here are three key questions to ask before scheduling installation with a professional solar panel expert.
- Does the Home’s Roof Receive Adequate Sun for Solar?
One of the most important considerations in determining whether solar is a viable option is to evaluate the roof’s daily sun exposure. For optimal efficacy, solar panels should receive approximately five to six hours of direct sunlight daily. It’s also essential to evaluate which direction the roof faces and its pitch/angle, as south facing roofing systems are ideal, and panels are optimally situated around 30-degree angles.
However, with special considerations, even zero-angle to 45-degree roofs can be accommodated, as well as most west and east facing homes. Owners with northern facing roofs, or those surrounded by trees, tall buildings, hills and other structures that block light could have problems that requires relocating solar implements, or even eliminating them as a possibility.
- Is Roofing Young Enough, Big Enough and Tough Enough for Solar?
The age, size and type of roofing one has can affect the decision to install solar panel systems. Most solar systems are designed to last 30 years or more, and may require removal and reinstallation if the roofing needs replacement before the panels do. This is something to consider when deciding when to go solar, and if it should be done in conjunction with a reroof. However, solar panels do actually serve in protecting the roof underneath them, and can actually help extend its longevity.
A typical five-kilowatt system can generate 7000 kilowatt hours annually, and exact needs for energy and roofing space can be determined with the help of a professional solar installation company. Shingles and corrugated metal roofs allow for easier installation, while tile and other roof types require more complex structuring and can be more costly overall.
- How Long Will it Take to Offset Initial Costs?
A final consideration involves determining how much electricity costs, what state-based initiatives might be available, and whether local energy companies will buy back excess energy generated by the solar system. It’s easy to explore state-by-state electricity rates online or by checking them on recent utility bills. Current incentives in New York include the 30% Federal tax credit, 25% state tax credit ($5,000 cap,) and NYSERDA grant. There are also incentives such as net metering available to further offset initial and long-term costs.
These factors all affect how long it will take for the solar system to pay for itself. Once it does, you may never have to worry about a utility bill again! There are also loan and lease programs available that allow you to take advantage of the benefits of solar without putting any money down, and can generate monthly savings day one! Take a look at what’s available locally to see just how much of a benefit these installations can be for you.