Shining a Light on Solar: How to Determine if Solar Panels Make Sense for Your Home

The popularity of solar panels has grown quickly in recent years as people look for ways to lower their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. And while the benefits of a clean, renewable energy source like solar power are obvious, it’s not necessarily the right choice for every home. In this guide we will discuss common myths about solar power, when to avoid installing solar panels, and red flags when hiring an installer

Common myths about solar panels

Believe it or not, styles of solar panels have been around for over a 100 years and the technology has come a long way. In this section we’ll cover some of the common misconceptions about solar power. 

You may be under the impression that solar panels are:

Expensive

  • Between special solar financing options, reduced energy costs, and local, state and federal tax incentives and rebates, the upfront cost for solar power is more affordable than most people realize. 
  • A professional contractor can guide you through the process and help you understand your options. 
  • Solar panels are a long term investment that will help lower energy costs and increase the value of your home.
  • There will always be a fee to connect to the power grid, but in the long run the potential savings are huge. 

Inefficient

  • You may see solar panels with an efficiency rating of 22-27% and wonder how they could possibly provide enough energy for your home. 
  • The truth is, the sun puts out A LOT of energy. The sunlight that hits the earth in just an hour-and-a-half has enough energy to power the world for a year.
  • Capturing even a fraction of this potential energy provides enough energy for many homes.

Fragile

  • Today’s solar panels are rated to withstand intense hail and hurricane force winds. 
  • They are also relatively maintenance free, with most homeowners simply cleaning them once a year to remove dust and dirt, and improve efficiency. 
  • Apps for your smartphone make it simple to monitor their performance and ensure that they are working correctly
  • If there is an issue, A-rated solar panels are under warranty through the manufacturer for up to 25 years.

Ugly

  • Solar panels have come a long way since the bulky fixtures of the past.
  • New options, like solar shingles, are virtually indistinguishable from the rest of your roof.
  • Stand-alone arrays can be placed discreetly on a separate area of your property instead of the roof.

 

Set up a free estimate with a licensed solar technician now to learn more

When to avoid installing solar panels

This technology is a great option for many homes, but because it is a long-term investment and relies heavily on external factors that may be beyond your control, it’s not the right choice for every home. 

Solar might not be right for you if:

  • You plan on moving or selling your home
    • Solar panels take time to generate enough power to offset the cost of your initial investment.
    • The panels may not be compatible with your new home.
    • The bright side: Solar panels can increase the resale value of your home, so it is worth checking if buyers in your market are willing to pay more for solar since this might factor into your decision
  • You already have low electricity costs
    • One of the main reasons to go solar is reducing energy bills.
    • If you have a small house, energy efficient appliances, and low utility rates, you may not save enough for solar to be worth it.
    • If you pay less than $50 per month for electricity, installing solar probably isn’t worth it
  • You want to go completely off the grid with panels only
    • You will need to be connected to the grid because you can only use so much energy on the sunniest days. 
    • The energy you don’t use goes back into the grid and stored until you need it at night and the winter months when there are not as many sunlight hours. 
    • Batteries are available, but they make the investment in solar much higher and more difficult to justify. 

Set up a free estimate with a licensed solar technician now to see if solar makes sense for your home

Red flags to be aware of when hiring an installer

Installing solar panels is a big decision and the quality of your contractor will be the difference between an enjoyable experience and a nightmare ordeal. Unfortunately, the increased popularity of solar power in recent years has also increased the number of shady installers whose only goal is to capitalize on the current trend and make a quick buck.

Here are some tips to help keep un-reputable installers from taking advantage of you:

  • Ask them is solar is right for you
    • This seems obvious, but really pay attention to their answer. Does it feel like a consultation or a sales pitch?
    • An honest installer will take the time to make sure you understand the technology and have reasonable expectations for the limitations of your solar system.
    • Beware if the answers to your questions always seem to lead back to the benefits of the system.
  • Do they use A-Rated Solar Panels?
    • Solar panels are reliable and relatively maintenance free, but only if you install quality equipment
    • A reputable installer will only use new, A-rated solar panels (Guaranteed to last up to 25 years)
    • Beware if your estimate doesn’t include the brand or type of panel. They may be trying to undercut other installers by offering an inferior product at a lower price without your knowledge.
  • Are they licensed, bonded and insured?
    • Any quality installer should be happy to share their licensing numbers and other credentials for you to verify
    • Beware if they are evasive when asked. Roof damage is expensive and you don’t want to get stuck paying for someone else’s mistake.
  • Do they ask you for any information upfront?
    • Residential solar systems are not one-size-fits-all.
    • Your system needs to be specifically designed for your home and household energy needs
    • Beware if they start pitching the benefits without gathering any information, like previous energy bills.
  • Do they perform a home energy audit?
    • The energy efficiency of your home is an important factor in designing a custom solar system.
    • A trustworthy contractor will identify any issues that are driving up your utility bills and might affect the performance of your new solar panels.
    • Beware if your contractor starts talking about energy output before they determine your individual needs.
  • Do they perform the installation themselves?
    • There are many steps involved in the installation of solar panels.
    • Some companies try to sell you the panels and then outsource the work to subcontractors.
    • Make sure you know who is going to be working on your home so that you don’t get stuck dealing with multiple companies and middlemen if there is an issue with your installation.
  • Are they knowledgeable about solar rebates and incentives?
    • Many local utilities and municipalities are extremely supportive of residential solar, but the average consumer may miss opportunities to take advantage of all the available programs to help make solar panels more affordable
    • A quality company with a focus on their customers will make sure to guide you through these programs to ensure that you get the maximum benefits.
  • Do they perform repairs and maintenance?
    • Solar panels are extremely reliable, but on the off chance that something goes wrong you need to know that repairs will be quick and efficient.
    • Beware if your installer relies on the manufacturer to perform maintenance, since this is an indication of the type of service that they will provide after the sale.


Have you gotten a recent solar estimate? Set up a free consultation now to get a second opinion and be confident in your purchasing decision.

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