Going Solar: Residential Solar Panels

Updated: June 7th, 2021

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Going Solar: The Benefits and Process of Installing Residential Solar Panels.

The rise of residential solar power can largely be attributed to the fact that solar panels are more cost-effective than ever before. The price of installation continues to fall, while more people are seeing significant savings on their energy bills. But those aren’t the only benefits of going solar. It can also increase the value of your home and reduce your family’s carbon footprint.

That’s not to say that solar panels are helpful for every household, however. To determine whether it’s the right move for your family, it’s essential to do your research and consider a number of factors. And if you decide to go solar, you’ll need to know what to expect so that you can plan accordingly.

Should You Go Solar?

There’s a popular misconception that solar energy is only beneficial in warm, sunny climates. While sunny environments are great for solar energy (for obvious reasons), solar panels actually tend to perform best in colder temperatures because photovoltaic production becomes less efficient as temperatures climb above 87 degrees. As such, most areas of the United States are ideal for residential solar power.

Some factors you will want to consider, however, include local regulations, electricity rates, and incentives. Chances are your city or county has regulations regarding solar panels, as do many homeowner’s associations — you’ll want to ensure you can meet those regulations. Also, consider your local utility rates: Will you save enough on your energy bill to justify the costs of solar panel installation?

Furthermore, research the financial incentives. Federal, state, and local entities often provide incentives for homeowners to go solar, including a variety of tax credits. And if you decide to go through with solar panel installation, you might qualify for the Energy Efficient Mortgage program. Administered by the FHA, this program can help you finance eco-friendly home improvements by attaching the costs to your mortgage.

Evaluating Your Roof

The style of your roof is also an essential factor to consider when installing solar panels. Most popular types of roofs will accommodate solar panels. Installing panels on an asphalt shingle roof, for instance, is pretty straightforward and inexpensive, as it only requires you to drill into the roofing studs and add metal flashing around the holes. Flat roofs and metal roofs make for an even easier installation. However, installing panels on clay tile roofs, as beautiful as they are, requires extensive labor.

Preparing for the Process

If you’ve decided that you want to go solar, it’s important to prepare for the process. It will take time, and you don’t want to be surprised! First, you’ll need to hire a trusted solar contractor who will come to your home for an inspection. It will likely take your contractor one to four weeks to design your panels, which will then be submitted to your local government for permitting (this can take two to eight weeks).

Once your panels are designed and approved, the installation crew will come in to put your panels on. This will take one to seven days, depending on the size of the solar panel system being installed. Finally, your local government will perform a final inspection of the solar installation, after which you can activate your panels and begin harvesting solar energy!

If you want to benefit the environment, installing solar panels is an excellent way to do it. It can reduce your carbon footprint while yielding significant energy savings and boosting your home’s value. If you determine that solar energy is the right move for your household, be sure to consider the type of roof you have, and be patient during the installation process!

Story by Karyn Winrich.


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