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Questions To Ask Before Purchasing Solar Panels

Questions to ask before purchasing solar panels

The solar panel is a renewable energy device that converts sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are usually installed on rooftops or in open fields to produce electric power. The sun’s rays hit the photovoltaic cells, which convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. This DC electricity then flows through an inverter that changes the voltage to alternating current (AC). From there, it can be fed directly into the grid or stored in batteries for later use. A solar panel installation may sound like a great idea for your home, but there are many factors you should consider before making the purchase. Here are the most common questions to ask yourself when considering whether or not to buy solar panels:

Do I have enough space?

The amount of sunlight a solar panel receives affects its power output. It’s important to determine the number of hours of peak sun exposure for a given location, as well as what percentage of your roof can receive that amount of light based on where your panels will be installed and the direction they face. The amount of electricity you’re able to generate from a certain number of panels depends on how much sunlight strikes those panels over time. As an example, if only 70% of the available rooftop area is exposed to optimal sunlight, then you’ll need roughly 30% more PV capacity to make up for the loss inefficiency.

Grid-tie systems are designed to send any excess electricity that’s produced back into the power grid, giving you a credit on your utility bill. However, it does mean that when there’s an outage in your neighborhood, you’ll no longer have power because these systems rely on grid power to operate at all times. If you don’t want to be left without electricity when there’s a blackout or other issue with your utility provider, then having a grid-tie system may not be for you.

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How much can I afford to spend?

The initial cost of installing solar panels on your home is the biggest factor in determining how much energy you’ll generate over time. Solar power is an investment, no different than buying a car or putting a down payment on a house; it’s only worth what you’re able to pay upfront and what you can afford to spend each month after that. Certain companies offer complete solar energy services, including installation, maintenance, and monitoring (if necessary). If this sounds like something you’d like them to handle for you, then make sure they provide these services at competitive rates.

Do I want to use batteries as part of my system?

The main consideration with battery backup is cost versus benefit. In some cases, adding a battery bank will allow you to use more power throughout the day, even when the sun isn’t shining. You can also store excess energy from your solar panels for those cloudy days or at night and then draw on that stored power instead of purchasing it from your utility company (at a higher rate). Utilizing battery storage does mean that you’ll need to maintain and possibly replace these batteries over time – however, this extra maintenance might be worth the added expense if it means saving money on your monthly energy bills through reduced net usage (or even eliminating it altogether).

7. Is my roof safe for solar panels?

Even if you have the space, accessibility and proper positioning about sunlight are important factors. Your roof should be structurally sound enough to accommodate additional weight (around 30 pounds per square foot) as well as support the installation of rails or other mounting hardware.

Will I need access to the inside of my home?

Some solar modules come with inverters with built-in battery backup that can supply power directly inside your home during a blackout, but only if it’s installed near an outside wall. If you plan on having an inverter that sends electricity into your home, then make sure there’s a direct electrical line from where the system will be set up into your living space.

Your contractor should be able to provide you with references, including testimonials from previous customers at no cost or obligation. They should also have experience in solar installation and have the necessary equipment on-site for the project, including tools for working with electrical systems, scaffolding or ladders for teams of workers, cranes or lifts if your home isn’t easily accessible, transfer switches to allow power coming in from outside sources (like solar panels) into your main electrical lines, etc. If they don’t have something that’s required for your project, then they shouldn’t take it on until they are fully equipped to do so.

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What is my average daily energy usage?

This is an important question to ask yourself so you can calculate how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) your home requires on average. Most utility companies will provide this information with their monthly statements, but it’s something you should know ahead of time before committing to any type of energy system.

If you already own solar panels that aren’t living up to expectations, then you may be able to simply replace the old modules with new ones instead of purchasing a completely new system (although this usually costs more than buying all-new equipment). This way, you’ll still benefit from your current inverter and other components while taking advantage of newer technology.

How do I obtain a quotation and/or an installation estimate?

This is the time to get out your measuring tape and your notepad so you can provide your contractor with all of the necessary information they need to get a quote. They should be able to give you an idea of how much your system will cost, but it’s also recommended that you ask for an estimate of any additional fees that may crop up during installation, such as permits or other unforeseeable expenses.

If you plan on using financing to pay for your project, then you must get information about any warranties or guarantees upfront. Most solar companies offer at least a 10-year warranty on labor, installation, and components (with some even giving 25 years), but make sure that coverage is transferable if these companies go out of business or sell their assets to other organizations before the end of that time frame.

Are there rebates or incentives available?

Many companies offer discounted rates to try to sway your decision one way or another, but you must do some research on these incentives yourself before making any definite plans with a contractor. Some solar panel manufacturers may require you to purchase additional equipment (or at least agree not to use competing components) to qualify for discounts, which means you could end up spending more than if you’d gone with someone else who was less stringent about these of details.

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