If you’ve been wondering whether solar panels can save you money on energy costs, the following information should help you get an idea of what you need to know before you buy.
Roof Types and Solar Panels
The first thing you should consider when installing a solar panel system is your roof. Let’s face it, there are dozens of roof types and styles. Not all are suitable for solar panel installation. If your roof is already nearing the end of its life expectancy, you will have added costs associated with roof replacement if you have a solar panel system in place.
The perfect roof for solar panel upgrades gets full sun and is positioned at the proper angle to capture maximum sunlight. Large shade trees provide a cooling respite during warmer weather, but, large trees sharply reduce the efficiency of solar panel systems. Roof materials are also an important consideration.
Tiled, composite, or asphalt shingled roofs are some of the most common roofs fitted for solar panels today. Metal standing seam roofing appears to be the “best” material for conductivity and sunlight capture. And then there is the flat, tar, and gravel roof, which are also popular roofing choices. However, the solar panels will need to be mounted at an angle, which increases installation costs. Finally, many industry experts recommend choosing an on-ground solar panel installation rather than using a wood roof as the solar panels’ foundation. There are increased fire risks with wood. And, unless you have a proper pitch, you’ll face additional costs for mounting the solar panels to the proper height and angle.
Solar Panel Costs
Once you know your roof is a good fit for a solar panel upgrade, you’ll want to understand the costs that go into retrofitting your home.
The cost of solar panels is calculated on a per-watt basis. It varies widely depending on where you live and whether you are eligible for any Federal Investment Tax Credits or local incentives for having solar panels. There are also regional price differences in the solar panel installation price, the type of panels you need based on roof type, and the local weather. As just one example, a 5KW solar panel system has a range of $11,100 — $22,400. Nevada comes in between $12,400 and $16,900 compared to Colorado, which has a range between $13,500 and $18,300, according to a national home improvement retailer serving both states. You can even lease solar panel systems for around $50 to $250 per month. Some solar panel retailers offer free system repairs, solar panel maintenance, and insurance that protect you from weather-related solar panel damage losses.
Bottom-line, to get the best deal on solar panels, compare brands and prices, visit the IRS website to check for current energy-related tax incentives, and weigh the pros and cons of leasing solar panels before you commit to buying any solar panel system for your home.
Solar Panel Installation
Installation is typically part of the solar panel system purchase price, but you have options, depending on your project’s scope. Suppose you’re interested in installing a few solar panels over your greenhouse or over your patio. In that case, you can usually find individual solar panels for $200 to $250 per panel, which is about $1 per watt. But, remember that you’ll have the cost of updating your circuit breaker or electric panels. Most municipalities require building permits before you begin the project and an inspection before bringing the system online for use.
When you have the proper tools and knowledge, solar panel installation is pretty simple on a small DIY project. Most people prefer to have an experienced professional solar engineer assume oversight of a larger project to ensure your roof can support the added weight of solar panels. A professional may also be a great resource for finding local incentives that lower the overall solar panel installation cost and operating expenses.
Once you have decided to install solar panels, you might consider having your roof professionally cleaned. Eliminating mold, mildew, moss, algae, and lichen will protect your roof from damage caused as these organisms spread. Regular solar panel cleaning will also improve performance and efficiency. Professional solar panel cleaning crews have the necessary tools and supplies to safely clean your solar panels and extend your solar panel system’s life.