If you want to install solar panels for home use, then you need to get clear on what it is that you will actually need to get going. The best way to do that is to finish reading this article which lays out, step by step what your need to do. Then familiarize yourself with the process at a much more detailed level by doing additional research on the web. A great resource is listed below. For starters, you will need to know the following.
Calculate your home's energy usage.
This is a fairly straightforward affair. Find your last couple utility bills and add up the kilowatt hours you used and then divide by the number of bills you have. The more bills you can reference, the more accurate your result will be. Another good number to have is your peak month. For many this is July or August when air conditioners are in highest use.
Measure the total area available on your roof to install solar panels.
A ballpark figure is good enough here. You are looking for the area of your roof which is within 90 degrees of south (that is it has a southern orientation) and is unobstructed by trees, chimneys or other shade.
Become familiar with local zoning laws.
Do not embark on a solar panel installation without proper paperwork for your locality. Some do not require any but others, specifically historic districts may even restrict your ability to make any changes to the outbound appearance of your house.
Do not run afoul of any homeowner's association either. They can be quite strict and severe when it comes to their bylaws. Forewarned is forearmed.
Contact your state and local department of energy.
Many states have reimbursements plans and tax abatements for homeowners who install solar panels. You may find that upwards of 75% or more of your up front costs fall under such plans. It is definitely worth looking into.
With this information in hand, you can now price out your project to fit your budget. There are many different manufacturers of solar cells and panels with different efficiencies and costs. You are sure to find one that suits your wallet as well as your house.
The numbers your looking for, in addition to price, are how much energy your system will produce on average through the year. Is it enough to cover your current and planned usage?
If cost is an issue, put together your total plan now and implement it in stages. Covering one quarter of your roof with extremely high efficiency panels may be a better choice than covering the whole roof with cheaper less efficient ones if you can go back next year and add on more high end panels.