Considering Solar For Your Home? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.

As you make the switch from fossil fuels to solar panels to power your home, you also need to make informed decisions. I know a lot of questions may be running through your mind and I'm here to help.

Here are the questions I hope to help you out with:

Ready? Let’s get into it.

Benefits of Solar Panels For The Home

Solar panels benefit the home and its owners in many ways. Benefits like utility savings, financial incentives, and even an increase in the home's value come with the use solar panels. They also show us why going solar is worth pursuing.

Read more to see how these work out.

1. Save on electricity bills

Solar panels help you save money on electricity bills because you get to generate your own electricity to power your home. You'll become less dependent on your local utility to supply for you.

While it’s true that you can eventually eliminate electricity bills through solar panels, it’s only applicable for those who buy their own set. This is because buying your own gives you ownership over the solar panels and the electricity it generates while leasing only rents it to you. The electricity generated is also just sold to you at a lower rate than local utility.

2. Financial Incentives

Owners of solar panels can avail themselves of financial benefits offered by the government, utility companies, and other organizations. Financial benefits offered are solar tax breaks, rebates, and performance-based incentives.

Get to know the available incentives in your state through the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). DSIRE is a comprehensive online resource of the US’s policies and incentives for renewable energy and its efficient use.

This is also where a licensed contractor comes in. A contractor is an expert who can help you claim these incentives aside from being someone you can consult on which solar panels to choose.

3. Increase in Your Property’s Resale Value

Real estate brokerage Zillow Inc. made an analysis of homes with and without solar panels from March 2018 to February 2019. Their analysis discovered that homes with solar panels sold for prices 4.1% higher than those without. The major reason for this preference was the future electricity savings that solar panels can provide.

Look at solar panels as an additional incentive you can offer buyers considering your home. Here’s a pro tip, get an estimate of your solar panels’ value through PV value, an appraisal tool endorsed by the Office Of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

Lastly, be mindful that these benefits are limited to the owner of the solar panel system only.

Switching to Solar Energy To Power The Home

Let's look at how to hire the best contractor to install solar panels for your home now that you know the benefits of solar energy.

Step #1: Check For Renewable Energy Certification and Insurance

Look for a company who has contractors certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Contractors whose skills are vetted by an established organization in renewable energy will give you confidence that your solar panel investment is in good hands. Additional licensing that a contractor should have is an electrical contractor's as installing solar panels also involves electrical work.

These proofs of expertise will be a reflection of the competence and professionalism you can expect from the contractor. These will also help establish the trust needed in the long term relationship you'll be in and the investment you'll make.

Finally, ensuring that the contractor is covered by insurance will give you peace of mind in knowing that potential risks are covered should any trouble arise.

Step #2: Check Performance History

Quality installation is best provided by a contractor or solar installer with relevant experience in the solar panel business. This will also show the quality of the long term service you’ll be hiring.

Partner with contractors who’re established in the industry and have a good track record in the state you live in. They would know the nuances of your community’s local permits and have the experience to back their skills up. It would also be helpful to ask the experiences of customers they’ve served in the area to get a heads up of what to expect.

A good reputation, solid performance, and an established presence in the business will assure you that the contractor will be there to assist you through the years.

Step #3: Check the Warranty Offered

Contractors offer solar panel warranties that usually cover the areas of product and performance for a length of 20 years.

The former encompasses everything connected to the product itself like defects together with its wear and tear. The latter covers the electricity output guaranteed by the provider. This ensures that the contractor will be responsible for to take care of it should performance go below the guaranteed electricity output.

Warranties should also have workmanship warranties that clearly state who will be responsible for maintaining the system over time together with its repair. Having these covered will help set expectations and help you plan your long-term action steps needed to maximize the capacity of your solar panel system.

Step #4: Check For Legal Impediments or Liabilities

Part of a good solar contractor profile is a good track record with the law. You’d want to trust someone who has no legal impediment or liabilities.

Go the extra mile in due diligence by consulting with the electrical board in your state.
Inquire if the contractor you plan on hiring has any complaints or judgements against them. You can also consult with the Better Business Bureau.

It might involve extra effort but consulting with them will be one way of knowing if you can trust your contractor.

Step #5: Clarify The Scope of Subcontractors Involved

Subcontractors benefit projects with the niche expertise they bring in. Contractors hire them for those special skills and even have well-established relationships with some because of the proven performance through several times of working together.

While these are good, contractors should be transparent with you regarding the scope of the subcontractors' responsibilities and roles in the project. Proper oversight should also be established when subcontractors will be involved.

Working Together With Your Contractor

As you select a good contractor to partner with, you can help them help you better by gathering the following important information. This information will help your contractor assess the kind of solar panels fit for your home and how many solar panels you’ll need.

  • Home ownership. If you own your home, this should be no problem. But if you're renting, seek the approval of the home owner first and work out an agreement.
  • Electricity needs. Get an estimate of your electricity needs in a year that solar power should replace. Your electricity bills will be a good resource for this. 
  • Home appliances. Take into consideration any changes in your home appliances as the electricity those changes will consume will affect your electricity needs too.
  • Solar potential. Evaluate your location's potential for solar energy production by taking note of the trees nearby, the age and tilt of your roof, and the amount of possible sunshine in your area. These factors will determine if you’ll be able to maximize the capacity of solar panels. Google’s Project Sunroof can you give you a good estimate of your home’s solar potential.

I hope this guide will prove handy as you consider going solar for your home. Finally, do further research through websites that provide good content on solar energy because informed decisions make the best choices. Check out websites like the US Department of Energy’s website on renewable energy, Energy Sage, and the Solar Energy Industries Association for news, recommendations, and advice.

Kenneth Wilson
March 29, 2021
Contractor Tips, Solar

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done.