According to Bloomberg, since 2010, solar power use is doubling every 20 months. There’s a tremendous chance that by 2050, solar power will make up 32 percent of the world’s energy production and usage.

 

This excellent renewable energy source can help us face many challenges in the world today. Environmental protection, social and economic benefits, and the establishment of new job opportunities are just a couple of advantages that may come with a solar-powered future.

 

You might ask why, if solar power is so great, haven’t the majority of people chosen to install a solar system on their property?

 

Well, this is probably due to the fact that solar power is quite a significant investment, and only a small group of people are well-educated when it comes to the methods of going solar. However, once you have the right information and guidelines, you’ll realize that installing solar panels doesn’t have to be such a daunting task!

 

Below are seven questions that people often ask in regard to installing solar panel systems, along with comprehensive answers.

 

What are my financing options?

Solar panel systems can cost between $25,000 and $35,000. Yes, this is a lot, but keep in mind that what you save on your energy bills will eventually result in that money being returned to you, and that by purchasing a solar system, you’ll also be eligible for tax credits or rebates.

 

If you don’t have an adequate budget for a solar system, there are many other options you can weigh to get some help. A few options to look into include:

 

  • Home equity loans
  • An energy-efficient mortgage
  • The Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (in Canada and the U.S.)
  • Peer-to-peer lending
  • A group purchase

 

What if I’m not a homeowner?

As a long-term tenant of a rented house or apartment, you can attempt to discuss the possibility of installing a solar system with the landlord. This will allow both of you to reap the benefits of a solar installation.

 

If your attempt to persuade the owner fails, then you’ll have the option of leasing a solar array. In this case, you’ll be paying a small rental fee for a solar system instead of owning the panels yourself. This might seem to defeat the purpose of free energy, but your savings will still be much greater than if you decided not to go solar.

 

You can also look into joining a solar community that’s owned by your local community or a third party. Although there are a variety of ways that the finances can be structured in such a system, this typically involves a subscription to a shared solar system, which will allow you to receive energy bill credits accordingly.

 

Another option is to make use of small, portable solar power systems. These systems can run small appliances, which will help you cut your home’s energy usage.

 

Is my roof type compatible with a solar energy system?

The answer to whether your type of roof will be able to accommodate solar panels is simple. Yes, it can!

 

No matter the size, shape or material of the roof, almost all roof types are suitable for the installation of a solar system. If a solar installation company turns you down due to the “incompatibility” of your roof, go look somewhere else! Chances are, they don’t have experience with your type of roof.

 

Is my home in the “right” location for solar power?

It goes without saying that the sun is the main reason why a solar system functions like it does. Therefore, it’s evident that the more sun a roof gets, the more efficiently a solar system will function.

 

Solar panels work most efficiently on a south-facing roof, in areas where the sun is plentiful all year round. If this doesn’t sound like your roof, though, don’t worry! Not all hope is lost, as there are ways to ensure efficient solar power.

 

When you contact a professional solar installation company, they’ll first assess your roof and the surrounding area with the help of solar measuring tools, in order to calculate the amount of solar energy available there (daily to yearly).

 

In most cases, where the sun is scarce, more panels will be the best solution. The solar installation company will be able to calculate the number of panels needed and position them accordingly, which will allow for more efficient energy generation. Other options like solar trackers, which allow the solar panels to follow the direction of the sun, are also available.

 

If the only reason for a shadowy roof is that there are trees blocking the sun, or there’s a satellite on the roof, then you’re in luck. The trimming of branches and the repositioning of certain roof obstructions can be done quickly, and you’ll be generating efficient solar energy in no time.

 

Is my roof new enough for a solar energy system?

Even though the type of roof isn’t an issue when it comes to solar panels, the condition of the roof might be. Before you invest in some solar panels and the installation process, make sure your roof isn’t damaged or close to the end of its lifecycle. Any professional roofer will be able to confirm whether your roof is fit for a solar system.

 

In the event that a roof only has a couple of years left before it’ll need a replacement, it may be best to hold back on the solar installation until then. Taking off solar panels and installing them again will cost you extra money.

 

Another thing to consider is solar shingles, which will give you a roof and a solar system in one. Solar shingles aren’t as efficient as solar panels, but if you’re in a sunny area, that might not even be a problem.

 

Solar shingles on a roof - 7 frequently asked questions about solar panel installation
A roof partially made up of solar shingles (blue)

Furthermore, you can even choose to install solar panels on the ground, for the time being, if your landscape allows it. This will let you start generating solar power while you wait for your roof’s lifecycle to end. Solar systems can last for more than 30 years, which makes installing them on a roof with an extended lifespan the ideal choice.

 

Do I need a permit to have a solar installation done?

The same rules don’t apply in all areas, so permits and regulations will vary in different locations.

 

For instance, a certain area may restrict the number of solar panels permitted on a roof due to fire codes. In the case of a fire emergency, firefighters need adequate space on roofs for walking, which will reduce the space available for solar panels.

 

When you contact a professional roofing company, chances are, they’ll be able to provide you with the right information for your area. Permits are usually obtained by the homeowner or by the installation company itself.

 

What should I look out for when signing the deal?

A solar contract will consist mainly of financing information, ownership information, warranty details and performance expectations. As with all contracts, it’s important to read the small print and make sure you thoroughly understand what’s been written. If you’re uncertain about what’s stated in the agreement, it’s best to ask a lawyer.

 

It’s crucial to make sure you understand what’s covered under warranty, and who’s responsible for maintenance and repair if something goes wrong with the panels. If you were to try to fix a problem yourself while your panels remained under warranty, you might end up breaking your contract.

 

Your safest bet, from the start, is to find a trustworthy company in your area. Word of mouth and some great reviews online can help you pick the right company for the job, which will help put you at ease when you’re signing the contract.

 

No harder than buying a house or car

So there you have it—installing some solar panels doesn’t involve any more work than buying a car or a new house. All significant investments require a little bit of research on the product and the offers available to you, as well as some paperwork. Unlike a car, solar panels will pay for themselves in the end, and by using them, you’ll be improving the environment instead of polluting it.

 

To read more about solar panels, check out 8 Types of Weather That Can Affect Solar Panel Efficiency>>

 

Mattea Jacobs is a freelance writer who mostly writes about both interior and exterior home design, and environmentally friendly ways to improve homes. She’s also a green activist and a mother of two beautiful sons.


image 1: Pixabay; image 2: ben west

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