Home Improvement

How to Prepare Your Home for Solar Panel Installation

Are you thinking of converting to solar? Your reason for exploring renewable energy options may be motivated by the desire to save money — or the planet. Another possibility is you want to prepare your home for the future. You anticipate a time when renewable energy is the dominant way communities will power nearly everything.

Determining whether solar panels are right for your home and preparing for installation are essential steps in the process. It’s more complicated than replacing your kitchen appliances, but it’s doable with a bit of know-how. Let’s look at what you need to do and consider before you go solar.

Perform an Energy Audit

Before you embark on your solar installation project, you should know how much energy your home uses. You can look at your average use during the year, which will help you figure out how many solar panels you’ll install. Consider your peak usage during different seasons, especially with appliances like air conditioners.

A typical house will require between 17 and 21 panels to meet its energy needs. However, you might also consider improving your home’s energy efficiency. Increasing your home’s efficiency with more insulation and energy-efficient appliances can reduce the strain on a solar system. Everything from your lighting to your appliances is game.

If you’re not sure how to up the energy efficiency in your home, you can hire a professional to perform an audit. Your municipal utility may even offer the service for free. An energy auditor can tell you where your house is losing energy and what you can do to remedy that. You’ll also better understand how much a solar system will save you each year. Most homeowners save up to $1,500 annually.

Get a Roof Inspection

Since most solar panels are installed on a home’s roof, assessing its condition beforehand is a must. Things to consider include whether your roof needs any repairs and whether it can bear the weight of the panels. Other factors are the roof’s slope and how much space there is, especially in areas that get the most sun exposure. These areas typically face the south, west, and southwest.

You can use online tools to calculate your home’s rooftop potential for generating solar power. These online calculators consider the roof’s space, shading, orientation, and location. You can also have an installation expert look at your home’s roof and surroundings to kill two birds with one stone. They’ll tell you what areas of your roof can withstand solar panels. You’ll also find out whether your panels need additional equipment to be positioned at the correct angles.

Besides evaluating your roof’s potential for solar panel installation, think about its age. If you know you’ll replace your shingles soon, do it before you go solar. Make the repairs you need now so you won’t compromise your roof further with the weight of the panels. In addition, you’ll want to avoid the expense of moving the panels around later to complete any necessary repairs.

Also Read: Ensuring Safety in Solar Panel Installations: What You Need to Know

Determine Whether You Want a Battery or Grid System

When your solar system doesn’t have enough energy to power your home, it turns to one of two sources. With a grid system, your house uses electricity from the utility company. If you have a battery system, it uses stored excess energy. It’s kind of like electrical appliances with battery backup options. When the power goes out, your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors keep working as long as there’s a battery installed.

With a grid system, your home remains connected to a meter and the utility company’s power source. You only get charged for the grid electricity you use and, in most states, receive credits for what your panels generate. Your property doesn’t need to accommodate any extra space for your backup power source.

With a battery system, you need space to store the batteries on your property. Your home will draw power from the batteries when there’s not enough being produced in real time. When your solar system produces more electricity than you use, it gets stored in the battery. A battery system means you can go completely off the grid, but the initial and ongoing costs may be higher.

Know the Rules

In most cases, you can’t just decide to put solar panels on top of your house on a whim. State and city regulations usually require permits, including installation approvals. You’ll also need to check your homeowners association’s bylaws, if applicable. Your HOA may have an architectural committee that will need to see your plans before giving you the thumbs up. Your utility company could pose yet another paperwork hurdle to overcome.

When you hire a contractor, they’ll do most of this legwork for you. The only entity a contractor won’t always deal with directly is the HOA. You’ll have to take the lead on communicating with your HOA’s point of contact and filling out any required forms.

Some states have solar access laws that protect a homeowner’s right to install solar panels. Depending on how the laws are written, an HOA may not be able to prevent you from installing panels. At the same time, it could restrict what type of panels you install and how many. However, in states without solar access laws, such as Nebraska, an HOA can ban solar installations. Know what you can and can’t do before you talk to a contractor.

Preparing for Solar

The decision to go solar comes with a significant investment. Transitioning your home’s main power source to renewable energy means making improvements and adding a new type of system. Simultaneously, installing solar panels involves more prep work than your typical home improvement project. Yet the long-term benefit to the environment and your pocketbook make going solar an appealing prospect for many homeowners. With due diligence, you’ll know whether you’re ready to make it happen.

Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

Related Articles

Back to top button