There is a lot of buzz about switching to solar power for environmental and financial reasons, but how can one decide if going solar would be beneficial in their particular situation? There are several factors that should be carefully examined and evaluated before the decision to go solar is made final.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center advises homeowners that the positioning of solar panels must allow the panels to receive as much sunlight as possible in order to capitalize energy outputs. Roof mounted panels should be positioned as close to due south as possible to maximize the amount of energy generated, since this orientation allows for the most direct sun exposure. Systems not facing due south can still perform economically, however their electricity output will likely be lower.
The biggest reason that people cite for switching to solar energy is the cost savings that result. However, the ability to save on energy bills when switching to solar energy is largely dependent on the cost of the system and the utility rates in a specific location. Solar Estimate provides an accurate calculator that pits the costs of installing a system against the ongoing costs of electricity based on local utility rates. Users can choose their utility provider and usage information in order to obtain a calculation of the cost benefits of panels.
Roofs that are currently in good condition are a required prerequisite for properly supporting solar panels. A roof that has not been properly maintained may not be able to adequately sustain such a system, and homeowners will find themselves facing hefty removal costs. Have your roof evaluated prior to installation to avoid this facing this problem further down the road.
Many homeowners who are looking to add solar panels hope that they will be able to completely run their house on solar power. Whether this goal is achievable depends on how much energy a family consumes over the course of a day.
The Learning Channel (TLC) provides more information about the average energy consumption of households in the U.S. in order to offer a picture of how many panels would need to be used to supplement all of the energy for a home. Estimates from TLC suggest that the average homeowner would need to install 285 square feet of panels, but homes that have particularly high energy consumption because of hot weather that requires the use of air conditioning would need to have many more panels.
It can be hard to determine exactly how many panels to include in a system because of changing energy needs. Families may grow or experience a change that requires a significant increase in energy consumption. If you expect this possibility for your home, you should consider installing an expandable system that allows homeowners to add panels in the event that their energy needs expand in the future.
Solar power can be a cost-saving energy option for homeowners who are willing to look at the long-term benefits of installing such a system. However, it is important for homeowners to look at installation costs, current utility rates and the capabilities of their roof in order to determine whether going solar is right for their needs.