Seeing more solar panels lately? If so, your neighborhood is in line with current trends. Industry analysts Frost & Sullivan predict continued exponential growth in solar for the next five years, with solar becoming a mainstream global power source by 2020.
With that in mind, you may find yourself considering adding solar to your own home. If you are, here is what you need to know about solar panels as you prepare to go solar:

Choosing the Best Type of Solar Energy for Your Lifestyle

When you head to the car dealership to pick out a new set of wheels, you’ve got a lot of choices. Whether you choose a pickup, a minivan, a sedan or a convertible depends a lot on your lifestyle needs.

Going solar is no different (although you won’t have to face the bewildering selection of choices that you would at the auto lot.) There are different types of solar to fit diverse needs and preferences.

Your first decision is between photovoltaics (PV, or solar electric) and solar thermal (typically solar water heating, but there are solar thermal space heating applications as well). Of course, you can always do both!

If you choose PV, you’ll also want to be aware of the types of solar panel systems: off-grid, grid tied and grid tied with solar battery backup.

Where Will You Put Your Solar Panels?

Solar panels have certain requirements that must be met for optimal safety and efficiency:

  • Exposure to sunlight: Any type of solar panel needs to be placed in full sun. Solar electric panels are especially sensitive to shading. Most people prefer to mount panels on their roof, but if yours is shaded there are other options: such as ground mounting, or mounting the panels on a nearby garage or other outbuilding.
  • A sturdy roof: If you do plan to go with the rooftop option, be sure your roof and trusses are sturdy enough to support the weight of the panels, including wind resistance. Also, think ahead. It is difficult and costly to replace a roof once the panels have been installed, so if you have an older roof consider getting it re-roofed first. Choose as durable a roofing material as you can afford. Standing seam metal roofs are ideal for solar panels because they are easy to mount panels on and will last a lifetime.

Think Efficiency

Higher energy needs require a larger, more expensive solar energy system. It pays to be proactive about energy efficiency before investing in solar. Some home and business owners find that the savings they realize with a smaller system are enough to cover the cost of new, energy-efficient appliances!

Plan for Future Use

When planning your solar system, think ahead. Will you be growing your family? Or downsizing? Might there be an electric car in your future? Keeping these things in mind during the planning stage will help ensure your satisfaction for years to come.

Financing Your Solar Panels

The cost of solar has tanked in the last decades as the technology has become more mainstream. It’s also much easier to find financing; many local banks are now as happy to offer loans for solar panels as for any other home improvement project.

Keep in mind that there are still plenty of incentives available for both residential and commercial solar energy installations. What’s more, if you are planning to connect your PV panels to the grid (which most people do), you should be aware of your local regulations regarding net metering: You may be able to sell your excess power back to the grid, which will improve your ROI even more.

Choosing the Right Solar Panel Installer

In some areas you may find that you have many choices when it comes to choosing a solar installer — including startups and some that do solar on the side. While some of these companies may do credible work, it pays to be choosy when it comes to your solar provider. Remember you’re dealing with structural concerns along with electricity and/or fluid-containing HVAC systems — not something you want to trust to just any company! Your best bet is to find a dedicated solar provider that has been around long enough to have a trustworthy reputation, and will be there for you if and when your system ever needs maintenance.

Planning Your Panels: The Next Step

Now that you understand what to know about solar panels, it’s time to get your questions answered. The best way is to speak with an expert — like one of our experienced solar panel installers. Contact us today for a free solar estimate. Our friendly and knowledgeable technicians will be glad to answer any questions you may have, from site issues to financing!