10 Questions to Ask About Solar Panels Before Installation

Installing solar panels on your roof can lessen dependence on fossil fuels and make your home comfortable while saving on electricity bills. While the initial cost is high, the federal and local government offers rebates to individuals and businesses who use them, while many local utility companies and financing agencies are happy to either offer leases or help customers finance their purchase. The financial incentives make them affordable, but it is important to know the basics before committing to having them in installed on your roof.

10 Things You Should Know Before Installing Solar Panels
  • Can you use them only in sunny climates?
While they work in every climate, it is true that sunnier states have better potential for implementing this technology. Some states, like Utah, are so sunny that it could provide a third of all electricity used in the country.
  • How much of an investment is required?
Many customers feel sticker shock at the initial cost of solar panels, as the cost might exceed $50,000. When figuring in available tax credits and tax exemptions, plus the savings realized on power consumption, the cost drops significantly.
  • What is the payoff period for amortizing this investment?
When you combine the incentives with the energy savings, the investment can pay for itself in 7 to 15 years. However, in sunny states, the payback may occur within four years.
  • Do you need a new roof before installing them?
As long as your roof is in good condition, a knowledgeable contractor can install solar panels. Replacing the roof after the panels were in place involves removing them, so if your roof needs extensive repairs or replacement, it makes sense to take care of the roof before adding the panels.
  • Will adding the panels make your property tax increase?
Many states offer tax credits for installing a renewable energy system, while come local cities and communities exempt solar installations from property taxes altogether.
  • How much can I save on energy bills?
While your savings will vary, reducing your bill by 70% per month is not uncommon. If you spend $200 per month on power, this saves you nearly $1,700 per year.
  • Can my roof support them?
Panels attach to a railing system mounted on the roof. A typical residential panel measures 65 inches by 39 inches and is less than two inches thick. Before installing a system on your roof, an experienced contractor will obtain a structural analysis of your roof and reinforce the framing if needed.
  • Does using them eliminate your need to be on the power grid?
There are solar systems that store energy in large batteries that the customer owns, but most people tie into the grid and enroll in net metering programs where you are just charged for the amount of electricity used in excess of what your panels produce, while sending extra energy back to the grid in return for credits during particularly sunny times or when your usage is low.
  • Will they make your roof unsightly?
Given their popularity, they are almost a "fashion trend" on homes today, especially in sunny states where the technology is spreading quickly.
  • Do they require maintenance?
Without any moving parts, solar panels require no regular maintenance. Many homeowners rely on the rain to clean the panels. Modern systems tie into monitoring software that tells you if your system has become inefficient due to debris.

Contact a Local Roofing & Solar Contractor with Your Solar Panel Questions

Before making the move to solar energy, you should have a good understanding of what is involved in this technology. Contact a local solar and roofing contractor in order to answer your questions, estimate equipment costs versus savings, and install your solar panels.