15 Things To Consider Before You Install Rooftop Solar Panels

In the United States, solar power systems are becoming more popular. Many are installing solar panels on their roofs. In recent years, solar power technology has made incredible advances. Many of these advancements have also helped to lower the price of the equipment. Solar panels can be installed on your roof to produce electricity for your home or business. It also reduces your environmental impact.

Before you start installing solar panels, you should consider many factors. Understanding the different factors involved in a project like this is so important taking a look at common solar panel myths is a good idea, too. We have compiled a list with the top 15 considerations before installing rooftop solar panels to help you make an informed decision about whether solar power is right for you, your family, or your business.

1. Is your roof in need of repairs?

Before you consider installing solar panels, you should ask yourself how old your roof is. If you are certain that your roof will need to be replaced soon or that there is damage to a portion of it, then solar panels may not be the best option. Do any roof repairs prior to the installation if you are able. This will save you money on the cost of removing and putting it back up (some cases, for as long as 20 years). Consider the warranty on your roof in comparison to the warranty on solar panels. It is more expensive to maintain a roof that lasts between 10 and 15 years, while solar panels will last 20 years. To reduce investment time, effort and cost, match the two projects.

2. What shape is your roof?

There are many sizes and shapes available for roofs. Before you install solar panels, ensure that there is enough space on your roof. You will likely not see the return on your investment if there isn’t enough space.

3. What direction are the roof’s slopes facing?

To generate maximum power, solar panels need to be placed in a specific way. Experts agree that solar panels should be placed facing south. Others prefer to face west. This information is crucial to know before you start the installation.

4. What weight can your roof support?

Solar panels can increase the roof’s weight. There is a possibility that your roof could collapse if the solar panels are too heavy. This can be dangerous and costly for many reasons. It is important to have a professional inspect your roof in order to determine if additional support will be required for the installation.

5. Explore home solar financing options

Rainwater runs down your roof and into your gutters. Equipment such as wire harnesses and racking can be used to stop water from rushing and draining properly when installing solar panels. Sometimes, solar equipment can cause water to flow in an unnatural direction. This can lead to leaks and other problems. These issues will require repair and the solar panels will have to be taken down. These issues can be avoided by notifying your contractor. To prove that the installation will not affect water runoff, they will present a plan.

6. Calculate your projected savings

Maintaining your solar power system includes dealing with severe weather such as lightning storms and hurricanes. These events can cause damage to some solar power equipment. These types of events are covered by insurance, but it is worth considering, especially if your area experiences frequent severe weather.

7. How can you connect to the grid

You must consider the shape and structure of your roof as well as how you will connect your solar power system with the grid. When connecting with a local utility, there are many things that you need to determine.

Examples include:

  • What is the average time it takes to get connected?
  • Are there any fees to be paid?
  • How will you be credited with the electricity generated?
  • When will your electricity generated be credited to you?

For more information on where states stand on net-metering (the how and when you will be credited for the electricity you generate) check out this handy guide.

8. Calculate solar energy output for your home

Do your research before you sign any contract with a contractor. It might seem easy to save money by choosing the first contractor that you see. This is not always true. You should shop around for quotes from several contractors if you’re serious about installing solar panel on your roof. To ensure that these companies are reliable and satisfied customers, do some research. You will be glad that you spoke with several contractors. To make an informed decision, you can compare prices, customer reviews, or other information.

Signing a contract

There are some things you should be aware of when signing a contract. These are some of the items:

  • Expectations regarding financing
  • Ownership expectations
  • Expectations for performance
  • Data collection by entities that may collect information about your electricity production or usage
  • Access to your electricity production data and usage data is available to companies

You might ask the contractor clarification questions if this information isn’t clearly stated in the contract. Do not sign anything that you do not feel comfortable with.

9. Are you able to trust your contractor?

A solar power system can be both an electrical and home improvement project. When you begin your search for the right contractor to hire, make sure they have the proper credentials. For example, asking if they have accreditation from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a good place to start. It is important to choose a contractor you trust will be there for the long-term. Although there is not much maintenance required, it is important to have your contractor available to repair any problems.

10. Did you choose the cheapest option?

Solar panels that are cheaper do not always mean better panels. Even though the price of the technology has fallen significantly over the past decade it is still possible to invest in cheaper models or brands. Solar panels that are lower quality or less durable are often made in inferior manufacturing processes. Solar panels that are less durable can reduce your investment value and future savings. These panels may be unsafe and can pose safety risks. You don’t want a solar panel that is low quality to cause a fire in your home. It is important that you invest your time and money in the installation of the best solar panels. They will last longer and provide a higher return over the long-term.

11. What about warranties?

Protecting your solar panels and any other equipment is important with warranties. A warranty allows you to hold the manufacturer responsible for any damage to your panels. You may also need to obtain a warranty for your equipment through incentive programs that are available in different states.

These programs won’t accept applications if you don’t have a warranty.

Different types of warranties

There are a few types of warranties available for equipment, solar panels and installation. These warranties include:

Solar Panel WarrantyThis warranty should protect your solar panels for between 25 and 30 years. If the warranty you are offered is less than 25 years, it is likely that the industry standard is lower. The warranty guarantees a minimum power output for the entire warranty period. Industry standards indicate that you should receive a minimum of 80% energy output for the length of time the panels are covered under the warranty.

Installation Warranty

This warranty covers any situation where the equipment or solar panels have been incorrectly installed. These warranties usually last between 2 and 10 years. These warranties typically cover labor and parts for repair or replacement of elements of the system, roofing penetrations, shipping and replacing defective parts. Ask your contractor about the installation warranties they offer.

Inverter Warranty

This warranty type can vary from one company to the next.

There are some industry standards that will help you get an idea of the warranties you should offer. The warranty period for standard “string inverters,” which are designed to handle power from a string of panels, is usually between 5 and 10 years. Generic “microinverters”, which attach directly to individual panels, can have warranties that last from 20 to 25 years. Inverter warranties typically cover material and manufacturing flaws. Inverter warranties don’t generally cover improper installations, normal wear and tears caused by extreme conditions, or improper maintenance.

12. Are you covered?

It is essential to have the right insurance in place to protect yourself and your home from any damage during installation. There are many problems that can occur during installation of solar panels. You might not realize it until it happens. Insurance is also required before work can begin. There are many requirements that must be met, such as rebates and legal regulations. These regulations and rules vary from one state to the next, so make sure you contact the right resources in your state before you start your project.

13. Did you avail of rebates?

Installing a solar panel system to your home can be expensive. It could cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. There are many rebates available for solar panels installed on your roof by solar companies, states and cities across the United States. Ask your contractor about their options before you start the project. If they don’t know what they have, ask them about rebates offered by the state or city.

The government wants people to be interested in solar power. The Department of Energy offers up to 30% savings via tax credits and rebates. You might also find savings with your local utility or electricity provider.

14. Are you able to DIY?

The professionals are the best people to do solar panel installation. It’s that simple. If you don’t have the right training, there are many things that can go wrong.

Examples include:

Trouble shooting: This job requires you to use electrical elements. Incorrectly set up electrical elements can cause electricity shocks which can be dangerous to yourself and others around you. For any electrical work, always consult an electrician.

Leaky Roof: You will need to make holes in your roof for solar panels. You can damage your roof by not sealing these holes properly.

Safety Standards and Code Compliance Installing solar panels requires a license professional for many warranties. These warranties are null if you do not have the license to install them. You will not be compensated if the installation is damaged or defective. Building permits and related regulations can be difficult to understand if you don’t know what they are. You could lose your project if you don’t complete all paperwork correctly.

15. Maintenance is important.

Proper maintenance is key to keeping your solar panels in working order and your roof in great condition. Before the installation starts, it’s a good idea for you to ask your contractor about these maintenance procedures. You can’t meet these maintenance requirements and your equipment may not last as long you would like.

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