What To Know Before a Solar Installation
Many people are excited at the prospect of enjoying lower electricity bills and helping the environment by installing solar panels for the home. However, before you decide to invest in HI solar energy, there are a number of things that you need to know to make sure your solar investment is worthwhile.
1. Understand Your Utility Rates
Depending on where you live, utility companies offer different rate tiers for electricity usage with a different cost formula depending on usage. On average, those consumers that use more energy tend to pay a higher rate, but when you move to solar power, you are not using as much electricity from the grid and so your rate goes down. The lesson here is that when looking at your utility bills, it is not necessarily the amount of energy you should be focused on but the rate that you pay for that electricity. The higher rate you pay for electricity the better the return you will see when going solar.
2. Rebates v. Batteries
Many times a solar installer will want to sell you a battery with your solar system so that any electricity your system produces that is not used during the day, you can draw from at night. However, if you are connected to the grid, you will still be able to pull energy from the grid even when your home solar system is not working (such as at night). In fact, you will not qualify for many state solar rebates if your solar power system is NOT connected to the grid. In the end, you probably do not have to worry about the battery as much unless you want to use solar energy around the clock.
3. Understand Your Electric Usage
In order to purchase the right number of solar panels for the home, a consumer needs to understand where they expect their energy usage to be in the future. If you are going to have a family or will be needed more power down the road, make sure your solar energy installer knows this so they can make sure they quote you on the right size producing system to account for your near and long term needs.
4. Property Tax Assessments
Often re-assessments of your property value are done when you refinance your home or when you perform a significant home improvement. If your home is re-assessed at a higher value after completing a significant home improvement (like installing a solar power system), you may owe additional property taxes as a result. You need to understand whether installing a solar power system on your home will trigger a re-assessment and whether the value of a solar power system is exempt from property taxes. In California, for example, the state does exempt the value of a renewable energy source from a property owner’s property taxes. Unlike other home improvements, you will not have to pay increased property taxes even though the value of your home will increase with the installation of HI solar panels.
5. Understand and Protect Your Investment
Make sure you understand the different warranties (and maintenance requirements) that apply to each of the components of your solar power system in the event that you have a problem with your system. You can read about solar warranties here. In addition, make sure that you update your homeowner’s insurance to include your solar power system under your policy in the case of damage from a natural disaster or fire.
6. Know Your Roof
Installation costs can vary depending on what type of roof that you have. Installing a solar power system on heavy tile will be much more expensive and affect the economics of your solar investment than if you installed the same system on a flat tar roof. If your roof is made out of a difficult or unique material, be prepared to pay between 10-25% more on your installation costs than normal and make sure you understand how this increase may affect your payback period. In addition, as for space, you will typically need about 100sq ft of roof space for each kilowatt of generating solar capacity. The average size of a solar system in the U.S is about 3 kW.
The Solar Installation Process:
The following is a summary of the major steps required when a solar power system is installed in your home:
Step 1: A solar panel installer assesses your home. The professional installer that you hire learns about your average electricity use and reasons for wanting solar energy. They visit your home and examine your roof. In doing so, they determine what solar system should be installed, make sure that solar panels can be safely installed and develop a detailed solar installation plan.
Step 2: The installer helps you to finance your system and secure rebates. As they assess your home, your solar installer will talk to you about you intend to finance the solar power system and discuss all available rebate programs and financing mechanisms. Professional solar installers are very knowledgeable about available rebates in your area and will work to ensure you qualify for available programs, including filling out the paperwork for you. In addition, nearly all installers can also help you secure solar financing for your system.
Step 3: The installer secures any necessary permits for the installation. Depending on your location, certain permits may be required before installation can begin. Professional Hawaii solar installers are very familiar with this process and can quickly handle any permitting requirements on your behalf.
Step 4: The solar system is installed in 24-72 hours. The installers secure the mounting brackets to your roof, add the necessary wiring, installs the solar panels and connect the wires to your homes electrical system via an inverter. They schedule any necessary inspections to get final approval for your system.
- Step 4a: Install the mounting brackets. The brackets will secure the solar panels to your roof and ensure that they will not blow away in a wind-storm. Particular care is taken that the brackets do not cause leaks in the roof.
- Step 4b: Install the wiring. Wiring connects the solar panels to an inverter, which converts the electricity from direct current to alternating current. The inverter then feeds into home’s electrical system and the electrical grid.
- Step 4c: Install the solar panels and connect the wiring. A licensed electrician will make all the connections between the panel and the electrical panel.
- Step 4d: Schedule any necessary inspections. Usually, a county or city inspector will check to make sure that the system is up to code. Once this is done, your solar system will have final approval and it can start providing you electricity!
- Step 4e: Rebate Checks. Usually 6-8 weeks after inspection of the solar system, you should receive your rebate checks from either your utility company, the state or the manufacturer. And don’t forget to take the federal solar tax credit on your taxes for the year that you install the system!
**Click here to get a free solar assessment from pre-certified installers in your area!**