Solar panel installation is becoming an increasingly accessible prospect for homeowners. Solar panels are more inexpensive than ever and provide an economically sustainable way to power your home. As expected, solar panel installation is an important process, where it’s in the best interest of the homeowner to understand what’s going on.
Budgeting, finding the right company, using the proper equipment and protecting your solar panels after installation is crucial to making the transition to renewable energy. To assure yourself that the solar panel installation process will go smoothly, it’s important to consider each step.
Budgeting for Solar Panel Installation
The cost of a solar panel installation depends largely on the equipment you’re using. Fortunately, homeowners can have direct control of their equipment in many cases. This flexibility, combined with the ability to choose the installation company you use, can make for ample savings in the range of $5,000 to $10,000 if you know what you’re looking for.
How to Choose the Right Equipment
There are three areas to consider when budgeting and weighing the effectiveness of your solar panel equipment. Keep an eye out for potentially unnecessary equipment that can save you thousands if you opt not to purchase it:
- Roof or Ground Mounting — A fixed mount rooftop system is fine if you have no issues with sunlight exposure. This is likely the case if you’re in a sunny state like Florida, Arizona or California. Because the sun is prominent, there’s little need to opt for ground-mounted systems. In less-sunny areas, ground mounting can be worth the extra cost if your roof isn’t ideal for solar. If your roof experiences ample sunlight, be sure to save considerable cash by only eschewing roof mounting.
- Solar Batteries — It may not be worth spending extra money for a solar battery, especially if you live in a state with a net metering program. Net metering involves storing energy through the electrical grid, which makes sense since solar batteries remain quite expensive. Net metering also enables you to qualify for bill credits for surplus energy in many cases. If net metering is available in your state, ignore any pleas to purchase a solar battery.
- Micro-Inverters or String Inverters — Inverter options are provided when a roof isn’t south-facing or lacks ample space for the solar panels to face the same direction. However, if your roof has the proper angle and has plenty of space, micro-inverters aren’t necessary. Instead, opt for string inverters, a more inexpensive and equally effective option for ample-spaced roofs.
After installation, solar panels should be protected from all the elements. Make sure your solar panels can handle whatever mother nature throws at them. Securing panels with fasteners that can combat all-weather conditions will ensure they are able to collect energy for years to come. This is especially important if you live in an area that experiences intense thunderstorms or harsh winters. Using high-quality screws and equipment for this can save money in the long run because you won’t have to repair or replace parts sooner.
What to Look for in Installation Companies
There are solar panel saving calculators useful for tracking information like your energy consumption and real-time market factors to determine a relatively accurate solar estimate. Getting this estimate can be useful for comparing quotes from installers in your area. You don’t want to get over-charged.
A good installation company will work with you to incorporate your equipment preferences. Beware of installers who insist on only using their recommendations. They could be over-charging, especially if it involves ground mounting, solar batteries or micro-inverters. Look for a company with a combination of flexibility, fair rates and positive word-of-mouth reputation. These are good indicators of a quality solar panel installer.
How to Protect Solar Panels
It’s very important to maintain and protect your solar panels once installed. Lack of maintenance can result in costly repairs and inefficient operation.
Even before installation, note the age of the roof in the case of roof mounting. The structure may need to be re-enforced. Solar panels today last around 20 years, though that’s assuming the roof supporting it will last that long as well. For older homes, beware of a roof not being suitable. In all cases, maintain care of the roof.
Wild animals can cause damage to the panels, which you can combat by installing bird spikes or plastic decoys. For rodents, be sure to install squirrel guards or screens alongside the bird spikes to keep animals and rodents to a minimum.
Easy solar panel installation is within reach. Proper budgeting, selecting appropriate equipment and maintaining solar panels can help secure your investment for decades to come.