Some Solar Questions and Answers
If you’re starting to think about going solar, it’s a good idea to first do a self-assessment so you know whether your home and solar are a good match. Here are five questions with explanations to get you started.
How much is your energy bill?
Are you paying an average of $120 or more for your electricity each month?
Knowing how much you pay for electricity is the first step in deciding whether you are a good candidate for Solar PV. The more you currently spend on electricity, the faster the payback will be on a Solar PV system. You can decide to get a PV system that matches some or all of your load.
You might be thinking of increasing your electric load, which will make you a better candidate for Solar.
- Are you thinking of adding one or more Electric Vehicle?
- Are you considering changing gas appliances, such as dryers, stoves or ovens, with electric ones?
This increase in your electric load can put you in a higher bill bracket, making Solar a more attractive alternative.
When do you use the most electricity?
Most people use more electricity in the winter when the days are shorter, the sky is more cloud-covered, and the heat is on (even gas furnaces use electricity if they have a fan). Electricity usage also tends to go up at night.
On the other hand, Solar panels generate electricity during the day when the sun is shining.
The more you can match your electricity use to the time you are generating electricity, the better deal you get.
- If the timing is out of synch, you will be selling your electricity back to AMP during the day and throughout the summer, and buying it back at night and in the winter.
- You can always invest in a battery storage system to help line up the timing better, but this technology is still young and costly. Work with a solar provider to do the math to figure out if Solar makes sense for the way you live and use energy.
Does your budget allow for a big ticket item like Solar PV that may have a long payback?
Buying a Solar PV system is a big investment, one that may not pay back for 10 to 15 years. Ideally, you would want to live in the home long enough to get a payback on your investment.
If you pay for your Solar PV system using a PACE loan, the loan stays with the house.
- If you are thinking of moving, it is difficult to predict whether the solar panels will add value to your home at selling time. It depends on how old the panels are and how much potential buyers value the solar panels.
- Other options exist that allow you to avoid the big initial investment, and instead pay a flat monthly fee for the use of your solar panels with an annual true-up charge. Work with a Solar provider to find out which options works best for you.
Is your roof suitable for solar panels?
There are several things to consider, including: There are several things to consider, including:
- Do you have strong, durable roofing material, such as composite or asphalt shingle, concrete tile or standing seam metal? These are the ideal roof surfaces that most installers are comfortable working with.
- How many more years of life does your roof have? Since solar panels are expected to last 30 or 40 years, you want to install them on a roof that is relatively new and in good condition.
- Does your roof receive enough sunlight at the right time of day? Use Google’s Project Sunroof to find out what your roof looks like from above and how much usable space you are likely to have. You will still need an onsite consultation with a solar professional to determine whether your roof is solar-friendly. The things that will be evaluated include the direction the flat surfaces of the roof face – south is best, but west is good for producing electricity in the afternoon – and whether you have shade blocking your roof.
- Also, some roofs have many pipe, chimney or skylight penetrations, getting in the way of panel installation. If your roof is particularly steep or has many gables or dormers, it is more difficult (and expensive) to install solar.
Do you have other reasons to install Solar that are less tied to economics?
- For example, you might want to do your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
- From 2020, AMP will be providing you with 100% Clean Energy so you might want to take advantage of other ways to do your part for the planet.