Not every house and property is prime for rooftop solar panels. For example, if you have a lot of trees on your property, you may not want to invest the cash.
Solar power is growing in popularity in the United States. In fact, there are now over 1.3 million solar installations across the country.
The cumulative power capacity of these installations is 40 gigawatts. This is enough power for 6.56 million households in the United States.
There are many reasons why homeowners are opting to install rooftop solar panels.
The most appealing benefit to homeowners is the opportunity for utility savings.
Solar power is certain to reduce your monthly electricity bill by a significant amount.
However, there are still many homeowners that are on the fence about going solar.
Read on to explore whether you should install rooftop solar panels. Learn about the benefits and risks of going solar to help you make a decision.
Is My Roof Suitable for Solar Panels?
Before you can get into payment methods or installation, the solar provider needs to evaluate your roof.
The solar company will check the condition of your roof, how much sunlight it gets, among other things.
In this section, we will give insight into the solar company’s roof evaluation.
Which direction is your roof slanted in? This is a critical question for solar company evaluators.
For maximum efficiency, solar companies prefer roofs that are south-facing.
If the roof is north-facing, it may not get enough sunlight to be worth the investment.
Roofs that face east or west can be productive. However, these directions depend on other variables such as tree coverage.
Another variable that impacts a suitability evaluation is shade.
Your solar panels will be less productive if there are many trees shading the roof.
In some cases, hills or mountains may block sunlight from reaching the roof.
In urban areas, tall buildings are another potential factor.
In combination with slant direction, the roof may not receive enough sunlight to produce a return on investment.
The age of your roof plays into the decision to go solar.
The best time to invest in rooftop solar panels is when the roof is in its early stages.
You can still get solar panels when the roof is at the end of its service life.
However, when your roof requires replacement, the solar panels will need to be removed. This will add a significant cost to the roofing bill.
The type of roofing will be considered by installation experts.
Corrugated metal roofing or asphalt shingles are the most suitable roof types for solar.
Tile or slate roofs are more complex installations. This means that the installation cost will increase accordingly.
The size and angle of your roof also are considered.
For each kilowatt of the solar system, you need 100 square feet of real estate on the roof.
The average residential system is 5 kilowatts, meaning you need 500 square feet.
The roof angle required for installation is zero to 45 degrees. The preferred angle is 30 to 45 degrees.
If the roof is too steep, your roof may not be suitable. For flat roofs, a tilted rack is required for installation which drives up the cost.
Another critical variable is the weather in your state. States in the northeast and northwest may not get enough sunlight to produce a return on investment.
Specifically, Alaska is generally not suitable for solar. Others like Maine and Washington State may not get enough sun coverage.
The good news is that California is a great state to install rooftop solar panels.
How Can I Pay for Rooftop Solar Panels?
Many people are turned off to solar because they falsely assume an expensive price tag.
Not everyone has cash or home equity readily available to make an investment in solar.
The truth is that there are several different ways to pay for rooftop solar panels and installation.
One financing option that is growing in popularity is the solar lease. With this option, a third-party retains ownership of the rooftop solar panels.
In this case, the third-party is your solar provider. Because they are the rightful owners, maintaining the system is their responsibility.
Any scheduled maintenance or repairs required are performed by the solar provider.
You do not have to put a lot of money down to start a lease. The down payment partially determines the fixed monthly payment amount that goes to the solar provider.
One benefit of a solar lease is that the monthly payment does not fluctuate with power usage.
Many Americans struggle with high electricity bills in the summer when the air conditioner is constantly running.
With solar Los Angeles residents do not need to worry about these high bills.
You may be wondering what is in it for the solar provider to pay for the rooftop panels and maintaining the system.
The answer is they get to take advantage of generous tax credits from the government.
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
PPAs are a very similar option to a solar lease. However, there is one difference that separates the two options.
As you recall, solar leases have a fixed monthly payment regardless of power usage. The opposite is true for a PPA. Instead, you pay a fixed monthly rate for every kilowatt hour of power used.
There are a number of government programs that incentivize homeowners to invest in solar.
One of those options is called an energy efficient mortgage.
This option allows you to build the cost of solar into the mortgage. By doing this, you can spread the solar investment costs over a 10 to 30-year period.
Another government alternative is the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.
This program allows you to leverage increased property taxes to pay solar costs.
Simply put, your local municipality pays the upfront costs of solar and makes it up with the higher tax payments.
There are also may be government grants to assist you.
Solar Investment Recap
Rooftop solar panels are the future for residential power demand. Now is the time to switch and start saving.
Schedule a roof evaluation to determine whether it is suitable or not.
There are also great financing options available to help you pay for it with little money down.