Thinking About Solar?
It’s easier to get on board as this new technology becomes more affordable
People are increasingly turning to solar in order to save money and guard against outages. In fact, a system was being installed every few minutes in the U.S., according to one solar-advocacy survey.
Because it’s all still so new, however, you’ll need to do your homework to figure out which option is right for you.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if your particular home is suitable for solar. Generally, homeowners need to have a recently installed new roof that faces south, and isn’t subject to long periods of shade. Individual companies may have their own additional requirements, depending on the specific equipment they use.
Solar arrays can be expensive, but there are a variety of purchase options. They can be financed through a loan, they can be leased or they can be sold outright. With leases and loans, monthly payments are more affordable — sometimes less than your regular electric bill — but you are required to sign a long-term contract. Power-purchase agreements allow customers to buy the electricity produced by the installed panels at a set price.
Purchased panels may qualify for special tax credits, while lease and power-purchase agreements do not have this option. Net metering allows homeowners to earn credit on their monthly utility bill for power the panels feed back into the larger electric grid. So shop around and compare the options with local installers. Pay close attention to monthly and upfront costs, as well as whatever tax benefits are available.
Is It Safe?
U.S. Department of Energy recommends that homeowners hire a certified
electrician to inspect the system before it goes online. But rest
assured, the solar industry is well regulated, and that includes
protecting the safety of homeowners. The panels have to meet testing and
inspection standards, and installers have to meet strict
qualifications. Installed panels must meet local electrical, fire and
Need More Info?
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office has created a helpful primer called the Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar. They cover the basics of how the technology works, how to determine your house’s suitability for installation, and the safety and financial considerations that are involved. Visit bit.ly/3rIT1xk.