Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on roof on a sunny day

Your Ultimate Guide to Residential Solar Power Installation

As temperatures and electric rates continue to climb, solar power installation looks like an attractive energy alternative.

Homeowners can save significant money with a home solar. In areas like Southern California, the cost of electricity is 53% higher than the national average and still rising.

Are you wondering if a home solar system will offset your electric costs? Are you unsure if solar installation is the right choice for your home?

If so, read on for a guide to solar power installation and how to reap the benefits from a home solar system.

What is Solar Power Installation?

Solar power installation seems straightforward. An expert attaches solar panels to your roof, and the sun’s energy powers your electrical appliances.

You save money and reduce your environmental footprint. You may also increase your house’s value. It’s a win-win-win.

However, solar power doesn’t directly add electricity. Residential solar power installation includes wiring the home solar system into the existing electrical system through an inverter.

Solar power’s one-way direct current (DC) travels into the inverter and converts the DC into an alternating current (AC). This AC then travels through your electrical system. It’s like the previous electricity provided by your utility company, except without the pesky per kWh charge.

Your home solar system may also connect to your electric company’s grid. If you have net metering, this means you can add surplus solar energy back into the grid. The extra energy adds credits to your account. The credits can be used when your home solar doesn’t meet electric demands.

You may not see any benefits, however, if you install a home solar system that isn’t optimized for your home. There are certain steps that will ensure you get those home solar benefits without losing money, damaging your home, or installing a faulty system.

Before panel shopping, here are some important factors to evaluate.

Analyze Your Energy Consumption and Electrical System

If you don’t install enough solar panels to significantly augment your energy consumption, you’ll end up with the equivalent of pricey roof paperweights.

Many utility companies offer tools to track your energy consumption by a specified period (day, week, month, year) and the type of energy used. You’ll want to know the average electricity you use daily during peak energy consumption seasons like summer and/or winter.

If your utility company doesn’t offer this, there are other online tools that can help you make a rough estimate.

Another option is an electricity usage monitor to determine how much your individual home devices and appliances are using. This will also help you locate energy vampires sucking up unneeded electricity and creating extra charges on your energy costs.

Eliminating vampire energy can even translate to solar panel installation savings. The less energy you use, the fewer potential panels you may need.
Your home’s electrical system should also be working without major issues.

An older building that isn’t up to modern codes may not be able to support a home solar system without installing new parts.

A qualified electrician can help you determine if your home is ready for solar power installation. An electric system evaluation is usually included in the residential solar power installation process. 

Evaluate Your Roof and Its Sunlight Exposure

Your roof is an important factor in home solar installation. Your roof should have adequate solar panels to meet your energy needs. Those solar panels will need enough sunlight to generate power.

If your roof is too small, covered in shade, or angled away from direct sunlight, you may have to adjust the number and placement of your panels.

There are tools to help you evaluate your home’s sunlight exposure. You can use online calculators to get a rough estimate by location and climate. Or you can use hand-held solar radiation meters for a more exact measurement.

Like your electric system, your roof should also be in good shape. If your roof is damaged or needs replacing, installing solar panels can exacerbate these roofing issues.

Certain roof materials and roof types are also more compatible with solar panel installation than others. A metal roof with seams requires very little installation effort compared to a tile roof. Intense solar panel installation on a roof that needs repair can quickly result in extra damages.

You may end up paying more in roof repair and replacement costs compared to fixing the roof before solar panel installation. A professional roof evaluation can help you determine your roof’s health.

Find the Best Quality in Materials and Installation

Like plumbing and remodeling, home solar installation is a project where skimping on cheap-quality items and services can end up costing you more money in the long run.

Faulty installation of your home solar system will cost you unneeded time, money, and stress. Knowing what to expect during installation will help ensure your solar installation process is done right.

Your solar panels should be durable. Most well-made solar panels average a 20-year lifespan before major repair and replacement issues. But a cheaply constructed solar panel may only last five years.

It’s also important for the inverter to be durable and installed correctly. A faulty inverter will waste the solar power generated by your home solar system.

Reliable inverter manufacturers will typically offer good warranties and service plans. You can also research the failure rates of their products.

Research Tax Credits and Incentive Programs

Residential solar power installation credits and incentives can depend on economic variables. But you may still find significant savings. Local, state, and federal incentive programs can give you short-term and long-term benefits.

The federal Solar Investment Tax Credit allows qualified homeowners to claim a 26% tax credit on their federal taxes. California state has several programs to encourage solar installation. These include Solar for Affordable Housing and Property-Assessed Clean Energy.

These extra savings can service and maintain your home solar system. A well-maintained solar system maximizes your home’s solar benefits.

Invest in Solar Power Installation

Residential solar power installation pays for itself in the short and long-term benefits of having a home solar system. Solar power-optimized for your home will keep your energy costs low for decades to come.

Contact us to begin your solar power installation process and make your way to a brighter, clean energy future.

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