If you've found yourself viewing your neighbor's indigo solar panels with envy, it's time to investigate solar options for your own home. Solar roof tiles and panels offer substantial benefits to homeowners: a high quality solar panel system can decimate your monthly utility bills, reduce your reliance on non-renewable resources, and help fight global warming. Along with many incentives and rebates, a solar power system is low-maintenance and long-lived (30+ years). It will generally pay for itself within the first 10-15 years, and provide you with free electricity for the next 20 – as well as keep thousands of pounds of greenhouse gases out of the environment.
For many people, solar is a great alternative to costly and pollutant fossil fuels. But not all houses are equally well suited to reap the maximum benefits of a solar panel system. How can you tell if solar is a good idea for your home? The best answer is to get a free solar evaluation from a reputable solar power company. An experienced solar consultant will evaluate your house for solar power by looking at the orientation, potential and space for solar, and your current energy bills. Although there are often ways to work around less-than-ideal circumstances, an honest solar power company will always let you know about potential issues with your site.
Here are some of the factors solar consultants examine:
Where is your house? Geography matters, but not as much as you might imagine. The amount of energy your solar panel system can generate will certainly vary depending on your geographical location and climate. However, as the success of Germany's solar programs attest, you do not need to live in California or the southwest to harness solar power effectively.
How much sun does your house get? Two major factors determine how much sun your house gets: which direction its roof faces and what's around it. Because solar panels are connected in a daisy-chain pattern, even minor shading from nearby trees or buildings can cause substantial production losses. A south-facing roof at a 30 degree slant offers the most productive site, followed by west and east-facing rooftops, respectively. North-facing roofs are least productive, and flat roofs are slightly more productive than west and east-facing roofs. Whichever direction your roof faces, you want to be sure that the sun hits it directly from about 10am to 2pm. Although the ideal location for a solar panel system is a south-facing roof with no shading that gets plenty of noon sun, there are many good alternatives.
How much will a solar power system save you? A solar panel system will offer the highest returns on your investment when 1) your monthly utility bills are relatively high; and 2) your utility company will offer cash for your excess energy through net metering. A solar consultant can analyze your monthly bills and let you know wherever solar will be a financially wise investment for you.