If you are debating whether installing a solar system is the right decision, you may be wondering if you have to live in a sunny, warm climate in order to see significant savings with solar power. How long can a solar panel last and are the lifetime savings really worth the cost?
As it turns out, solar is a smart investment whether you’re soaking up the sun in California or paying through the nose for electricity in the Northeast.
Things to Consider
There are a variety of incentives and rebates offered for homeowners switching to solar power. Currently, these exist at the federal, state and local levels, but vary depending on your region. While incentives and rebates can reward residents with significant cost savings, as solar prices are steadily decreasing, these financial incentives are becoming less important for homeowner.
Ideally your home will have a south-facing roof, however you can still produce sufficient energy with west or east facing roofs. A pitch of 30 degrees is also ideal, however solar can be installed on roofs with angles from 0 to 45 degrees. Do you have a flat roof? That’s ok too! Your installer can mount the panels at the perfect angle to maximize your energy production. As for the age of your roof, it doesn’t have to be brand new, however you shouldn’t be planning on replacing it within the next few years. As a general guide, if your roof needs to be replaced within the next 5 years, it would be best to have your roof replaced before having your panels added.
It’s best if your roof is free from obstructions like chimneys, skylights, and dormers. If these are present on your roof, the installer may be able to design the system around them, depending on the roof layout and size.
You’ll also need to consider how many solar panels to run a house. A general rule of thumb for a solar PV system is to reserve 100 square feet of roof space for each kilowatt. The average system in the United States is between five and seven kilowatts, though your system may be bigger or smaller depending on your electricity consumption.
Shadows cast on solar panels from trees or neighboring buildings can significantly decrease their electricity production. While a building’s shadow may not be something you can change, tree branches can be trimmed to decrease their effect on your panel’s production.
The price of electricity in your area is a key factor in the decision to go solar. Installing solar panels makes sense almost everywhere, but the savings you receive will vary, due in large part to the price you are paying your utility for your energy. In fact, because of the variations in energy prices, in some of the cloudier areas of the US, solar homeowners are seeing greater savings than homeowners in sunnier regions, who have lower utility prices.
Characteristics of an Ideal Home for Solar
While solar works for almost all homes, the “best of the best” homes for solar panel installations have the following roof characteristics:
While the above qualities would fit an ideal solar home, you can still benefit heavily from a solar installation even if you can’t check off everything on the list. The following factors are important to consider when assessing whether your roof is appropriate for solar.
Interested in getting exact prices for the cost solar for your home? Get competitive solar quotes from qualified, trusted installers in your area. To see an estimate for how much you could expect to save and how much a solar system would cost, try our solar calculator.