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You’ve probably heard a lot of good things about solar power recently. Along with the fact that people can save money by generating their own power, homeowners may also be able to sell power that their panels generate to the power company, which further reduces their energy costs.

Although there are a number of potential benefits to solar power, it’s not right for everybody. Depending on the type of roof you have, the direction your home faces and your exposure to sunlight, you may or may not be a good candidate for a solar panel installation.

If you are able to benefit from solar panels, it’s important that you understand some basic facts about it. This will help you find a company that is right for you and a setup and payment plan that fits your needs and budget.

How Solar Works

Solar panels are installed on your home’s roof. Once this happens, the photovoltaic cells in the panels turn energy from the sun into electricity for your home. From there, direct current (DC) energy is turned into alternating current (AC) energy via an inverter.

If you have a setup with batteries, excess energy is stored in them until power is needed to run your home. When your system is connected to an energy grid, excess energy is sent to the grid to be used by others. At times when your solar panels aren’t collecting energy, for whatever reason, you’ll use energy stored in batteries or pulled from the power grid.

Is Solar Right For You?

Solar power is better for the environment than most standard alternatives, and it can help you save money. However, not everyone lives in an area that receives enough sunlight to generate the energy they need. Additionally, the upfront costs of installing a solar panel system can be fairly high. While they’ll eventually pay for themselves through energy savings, you’ll still need to invest a significant amount of money even when you take tax credits into account.

The factors that affect how much sunlight your solar panels will receive include the climate you live in, whether trees or other obstructions block your roof, how large your roof is and which direction your home faces. Additionally, the amount of energy that you need will also determine whether you can use batteries or will need to connect to the energy grid to have enough energy to power your home.

Even if you can get by using batteries, it may be for the best to connect to the grid since batteries can be very costly. You can also sell solar energy that you’re not using to local power companies through net metering programs, so the power generated by your panels doesn’t go to waste.

Generally speaking, for every kilowatt of energy you use, you’ll need 100 square feet of solar panels. If your roof isn’t large enough, you won’t generate sufficient amounts of power. You still may not get enough energy if you have a large roof but live in an area that only gets a few hours of sunlight each day. Further, if you have a roof that faces the north, you’re probably not going to get nearly enough sunlight to justify a solar installation.

This is not to say that you will never be a good candidate for solar energy. Technological advancements are constantly being made, so in a few years, panels may be more than efficient enough to be installed on smaller homes or ones in less sunny climates.

Paying for Solar Panels

The average price for solar installations is anywhere between seven and nine dollars per watt. Since the majority of solar systems are five kilowatt systems, you could end up spending upwards of $25,000 before tax rebates and other incentives. If you don’t have the money on hand to pay for this upfront, you can still have solar panels installed.

If you opt for a solar panel company that offers Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) or leases, you can have solar panels installed without having to pay for your equipment. In most of these arrangements, you don’t own the equipment, but this means you don’t have to foot the costs for it either.

With PPA, you’ll normally pay the installation company for the power generated by your system, but you’ll be able to purchase energy at a rate that is lower than what you’d pay the power company. It’s important to note that you won’t receive tax credits for installing a solar system when you opt for a PPA.

What To Look For In A Solar Panel Installation Company

There are a variety of reputable solar power companies that can help you get a solar panel system installed on your home. However, not all organizations provide the same level of service or competence. When looking for a company to install solar panels, you should consider the type of warranties they offer, if they provide monitoring and how flexible they are with payment plans if you can pay for your panels up front.

Another consideration is if the company is able to hook you up to the local power grid. There are a number of benefits to having a connection to the grid, including the assurance of power even if your solar panels don’t generate enough energy. Solar panel installation companies are often required to meet certain standards set by the government or local energy companies to be able to connect a solar system to the local grid, and you shouldn’t assume that all solar power companies meet those requirements.