Get Ready, Get Set, Go Solar! Solar Panel Preparation Tips
Solar panel installation is a great choice for homeowners wishing to make a long-term investment toward financial savings, energy independence and environmental responsibility. Once installed, solar panels lower your utility bills and will provide clean, emissions-free energy for your home or business for decades.
Just as with any other home improvement project, proper planning pays off. Here are some solar panel preparation tips to help you get the most from your panels.
6 Steps to Prepare Your Home for Solar
- Get a solar assessment for your property. Before considering solar panel installation, it’s important to be sure your property is suitable for solar. The first step is to contact a qualified solar assessor to do a solar audit of your home. They will survey your property to gauge sun exposure and make sure there is adequate room for panels. They will also review your energy bills and estimate your potential savings. There is no need to pay for a solar audit; most professional solar installers provide this service free of charge.
- Consider your energy needs and goals. It’s very important to communicate with your solar assessor why you are looking to install solar, and what you hope to accomplish. If the primary goal is financial savings, it may call for a different system design than if you are looking primarily to minimize your carbon footprint. Your lifestyle can also impact your decision. For instance, some families find that it makes sense to install a solar water heater rather than or in addition to a PV (solar electric) system. Similarly, if you are concerned about energy security, you may want to consider a system with solar battery backup.
- Consider your future needs. Most solar panels are expected to last for 20-25 years. They often last decades longer; your solar system will be with you for a long time. It makes sense to size your system for your house, but do keep your changing energy needs in mind when planning your system. For instance, if you think you might want to get an electric car down the road, you’ll want to let your solar installer know this up front so they can design a system that will easily accommodate the extra need for power.
- Check your roof. If you plan to install solar panels on your roof, it’s critical that your roof be up to the task. It’s not a bad idea to have a building inspector or structural engineer inspect your roof and supporting structures to make sure they can support the extra weight of solar panels. You will want to implement any repairs and/or upgrades to your roof before your panels go in, because it will be much more costly and difficult to do afterward. If you are planning to replace your roof before installing panels, consider choosing a solar-friendly roofing material such as a standing seam metal roof.
- Tend to your trees. Trees are beautiful assets to your property, and the shade they provide is often welcome. However, your panels need to be in full sun. Proper functioning of your solar panels may require some compromise such as tree trimming and/or removal. If you can’t bear to remove a tree that is shading your roof, keep in mind that panels can also be mounted on a garage or in your backyard. Chances are you’ll find some way to have the best of both worlds.
- Financing and permitting. While solar panel installation is a physical process, there is a lot of paperwork to go with it. An experienced solar installer will help you find and qualify for available solar grants, loans and tax rebates. They will also navigate the permitting process on your behalf.
The first step in planning your solar system — give us a call!
Ready to go solar? Your first step is to schedule a solar assessment. We offer this service free of charge to homeowners and business owners in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Just call us at (410) 560-9032 or fill out our simple online request form to schedule your free solar assessment today.