I get asked all the time, “Does my Home get enough Sun for Solar?
I always say it depends on the trees. One of the key steps in going solar is to evaluate how much sun you get on your roof. Solar panels should receive approximately five to six hours of direct sunlight daily.
Most homeowners already know where they get sun, and where they don’t. Often, it’s trees that give them the most problem in getting sun. You know where the trees cast shade on your home!
But what do you do if you have trees that shade your roof? First, recognize that some shade is fine for going solar. Then use these three tips:
Tip #1: You are not losing your tree line!
Trees are personal. At New York State Solar Farm, we understand and would like you to keep as many trees as possible as you go solar. To do this, it is good to remember that most homes have more than enough trees. They grow in tiers. Removing the trees closest to the roof are in the closest tier. You will still have a tree line when you’re done. Trees behind the trees you remove are still a good tree line.
Taking away the first row of trees closest to your roof will give your yard and your roof more sun for solar. Remember the farther away trees will still be there to give you a great tree view.
Tip #2: The 80/20 Rule
We’ve all heard this rule before. The 80/20 rule. 20% of the activity delivers 80% of the result. No surprise – It’s true for tree removal too!
First step is to focus on the main trees closest to where your solar panels will see the sun. South is the most powerful direction for solar production, but east and west roofs can be good too. If each roof has a few trees that shade, you’ll get 80% of your increase in sun just by taking down 20% of the trees that shade the most. It is often just 1 main tree per roof.
At New York State Solar Farm, we can provide you with a tree consultation service, and also some good advice on which trees provide the best return for your solar savings.
A simple technique is to “circle” the large trees closest to the roof using Google Earth or Google Maps. Look to the east, where the sun rises, and visualize the sun moving towards the west-sunset. Circle the main trees close to the house the sun could go behind!
You can draw lines across trees that are less important (the 80%). Tree services will sometimes take down these trees for free.
Tip #3: Shop Around
Save big on tree removal costs by shopping around. Invite many arborists to take a look. Prices vary greatly based on if the tree cutters are in the area already. Ask them when they’ll be around for a better price. May offer cash discounts. Finally, find out when they are less busy. Prices can be 40-50% lower when you are flexible on timing.
Even the most shaded homes can go solar with a little tree removal. Remember, your solar system will always save the equivalent of more trees than you take down as a result of reducing carbon emissions. You will also save more money on your energy bills than it will cost to take down the trees by allowing your roof more sun access. So don’t let a few trees stand in your way. Going solar when you have tree shade is very doable!
Sr. Solar Consultant – New York State Solar Farm
5 Settlers Court Poughkeepsie, NY 12603