13 important questions to ask before installing solar panels
Are you a homeowner or small business owner considering installing a solar energy system? Ask us first! There are several questions you should ask, information you need to know and potential issues you should address with professionals (installers/contractors, insurance agents and your electric cooperative) before committing to a solar system. before committing to a solar system.
What are my goals for installing a solar energy system?
Are you looking to use solar panels to generate electricity and/or reduce natural gas use, or do you want to completely disconnect from the grid?
Have I educated myself about the installation process and maintenance requirements of a solar energy system? Where can I learn more?
Learn more here: www.nrel.gov/solar
How much can I afford?
Depending on your location, what system will work for you, local regulations, and incentives, the price can vary widely for different types of renewable systems.
Will there be a return of investment?
For some, using an array of solar panels to generate electricity can eventually pay for itself. However, if you don’t do your research, ask the right questions and choose the renewable system that best fits your needs, you may end up losing money.
What is my annual electricity use? Annual gas usage in therms? What is my summer and winter electric use?
You can answer these questions by looking at your utility bills or by contacting your local electric cooperative.
What are the benefits of having an energy audit before investing in a renewable energy system?
To maximize your investment in solar, you want your home as energy-efficient as possible first. A home energy audit will provide suggestions to do this, plus can save you significant amounts of money over time. Consider checking with your local cooperative to see if they offer free or low-cost energy audits. For more information, go to www.energysavers.gov.
What percent of my energy needs would I like to supply with renewable sources?
Defining your expectations will help the solar company you’re working with identify the equipment needed to reach your goal.
Is my main electrical service panel adequate?
A consultation with a qualified electrician can help make this assessment.
Is my roof positioned well enough to support an array of photovoltaic solar panels? If not, are there other options?
Ideally, your panels should face south. If they face a different direction you will see loss in energy output.
How large is my yard/acreage?
Depending on the size of your property, it may be preferable to install a ground-mount solar panel system.
How old is my roof?
If your roof is ready to be re-shingled (15 years old), you should do so before installing solar panels. Otherwise, you will have to remove your system and re-install it once you’re finished re-roofing.
Is my roof structurally sound?
A consultation with a contractor can help make this assessment.
Is additional homeowners insurance required for a solar energy system?
Not necessarily. Check with your insurance agent to make sure they will insure your system, and ask if your rates will change because of the solar system. Also, check with your local electric cooperative for any insurance requirements they might have.