Solar Power For Homes And How To Use Solar Panels

If you want to use solar power for your home, there are a number of steps that you should follow first. It is generally best to ask for professional assistance from the start, although there are also numerous things that you can do yourself. Also, none of these steps are overly complicated so they shouldn’t stand in the way of you going green.

STEP 1 – What Is Your Home’s Current Energy Efficiency?

First of all, you need to make sure that you know what is your energy efficiency, and whether there are any upgrades you could make to your existing setup. An online home energy audit is a good starting point.

“A home energy checkup helps owners determine where their house is losing energy and money – and how such problems can be corrected to make the home more energy efficient.”

STEP 2 – Assess Your Potential for Solar Power

Next, you need to make find out how much energy you can produce in your area. You must work out how much of the sun’s energy can reach your solar panels, which in turn depends on the size of your solar panel array. Luckily, there are good online mapping services that can help you determine whether your area is suitable for solar power. They may also give you alternatives should you find that solar power is not right for you. Some things that could make you unsuitable for solar power include:

– Nearby shade trees

– An old roof that will require replacement soon

– HOA/NA (homeowner association/neighborhood association) restrictions

STEP 3 – Determine Your Solar Options

Once upon a time, if you wanted to go solar, you would have to purchase the whole system yourself and hold responsibility for its upkeep. You can still do this today, but you have other options as well, including:

– Shared or community solar

– Power purchase agreements (PPA)

– Solar leases

– Solarize programs

STEP 4 – Determine Your Needs for Solar Electricity

This is where you start to think about the type and size of system you will need. To do this, you need to understand your energy usage. Hence:

– Look at your energy bills for each month to see how much you spend.
– Consider whether you are planning changes (buying an electric vehicle, having a more energy efficient boiler).

STEP 5 – Get Quotes and Site Assessments

The exciting stuff start at this point, as you will have to get quotes from providers. You must make sure that they are all certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

“NABCEP offers credentials for skilled professionals, specialists and those new to working in the areas of photovoltaics, solar heating and small wind technologies.”

Various online tools also exist to allow you to compare the market. Make sure that you receive at least three quotations from different providers. Some questions to ask include:

– Whether they know the local interconnection and permitting processes

– Whether they have references from local clients

– Whether they are properly certified and licensed

– What kind of warranty they offer on their system

– Whether they have active or pending liens or judgments against them

Once you receive your quotation, it should clearly state:

– The maximum capacity of the system in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW)

– An estimate of how much energy will be produced (monthly or yearly)

– The total cost of installation, including warranty, sales tax, permitting, grid connection, installation, and hardware

– A cost/W and an approximate cost/kWh for the system

STEP 6 – Look into Finance and Incentives

There are lots of benefits, tax credits, and other incentives to have solar panels installed. Check which ones apply to you through the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).

“DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.”