Solar panels are a big investment in your future. Installed properly, they can pay for themselves in less than a decade and continue to provide free power for another decade. This makes it seem like this would make their installation an easy decision, but there are several things you should look into before making the decision to proceed with the installation.
What Regulations and Tax Breaks Are Applicable to Your Situation?
Government regulations are going to affect your solar installation in two ways. Regulations about how and where you can install your panels might make it more difficult to install the panels. On the other hand, tax breaks and rebates will help offset the initial cost of the panels and their installation. While your installer should be familiar with the local codes, it doesn’t hurt to have a look at them yourself.
In some communities, the local government will not be your biggest obstacle. Many homeowner’s associations have strict rules about what can be on your roof. If you don’t want to run afoul of this group, you should be proactive. Talk to them before you start the installation. See if you can get an exception or come to some sort of resolution. If you are still having difficulty, go to your state or local government. Some states are blocking HOA’s from preventing the installation of solar panels.
How Hard is it Going to Be to Get Panels on Your Roof?
Just because you have permission to install your panels does not mean it is going to be easy. You still need to get your electrical system adjusted to work with multiple power sources, and you need to install the brackets on the roof.
Dealing with the electrical issue is relatively simple—hire an electrician. They will install an inverter that will take the power from the panels and convert it into a form your home can use. If you want to be able to use the panels to charge a battery backup, then they will also need to put an automatic bypass into the system so that the power from your home does not leak back into the grid.
Most solar panel systems are designed to be installed on asphalt shingle roofs, and that is the system that installers will be most familiar with. If you have a tile or slate roof, you will need to purchase a mounting system that is designed for that style of roofing.
If you can’t find an installer with experience dealing with unusual roofing materials like slate, don’t worry. You should be able to find a roofing company that can assist in the installation. You will need to spend some extra money to get two sets of installers, but it is worth it if it keeps your solar installation from destroying your roof.
What Are the Rules of the Power Company’s Buyback Program?
Solar systems are most effective in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its brightest. The problem is, this is also the time of day where most people are away at work. You could put a large bank of batteries in your basement, but this is prohibitively expensive.
What most people do instead is to sell their excess power back to the grid during the day. At night, when the panels aren’t producing, they buy power from the electric company as normal. Most states mandate that power companies have some sort of program to support this, but not all. If excess power goes to waste during the day, it could seriously damage the breakeven point for your panels.
Before you even start putting solar panels on your roof there are quite a few things you need to consider. Since each of these items could result in your panels becoming a poor investment, skipping this step is certainly ill-advised.