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How to go solar in your home

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 14:11

The addition of solar panels to your home is favorable for the environment as well as your wallet. Keep reading to learn more about why solar energy is positive, if your house is capable of adopting the technology and how to proceed with the installation. Ultimately you can pay less for the best heating system over time with the addition of solar panels.

1. Find out the benefits

Forbes reported that solar panels can cut a household's carbon dioxide emission by more than 35,000 pounds each year, the equivalent to planting 88 trees. To rephrase that figure in financial terms, you can save roughly $84 on your monthly electricity bill.

While the equipment can be quite expensive initially, it has become more affordable. According to Forbes, the up-front costs have dropped by 60 percent in the past few years. Additionally, investing in solar panels can increase the value of your home and earn you tax credits. The source confirmed there is a 30 percent investment tax credit for households or businesses that convert to solar energy before the end of 2016. 

2. Assess your home's needs

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are four major factors to consider if you are wondering about the feasibility of solar energy: the amount of sun available to you, how large of a system you will need, where the panels will be mounted and if you should connect to the grid. 

When you are determining how much solar energy you can actually harness in your location, take the roof's orientation and condition into account, according to the DOE. Weather patterns can also affect the effectiveness of solar panels, such as recurring foggy or cloudy periods.

The next step is finding out the appropriate size of your potential solar energy rig. The DOE recommended reviewing past energy bills or talking to the utility company about usage before deciding what percentage of your energy costs you want to cut. The maximum amount of power a system can produce when it's exposed to solar radiation at 1,000 watts per square meter determines its rating. According to the DOE, systems rated between one and five are often best for homes and small businesses.

It's common for people to install solar panels on the roof, because that's usually where the sun hits buildings most throughout the day. However, panels can also be set up on a fixed or tracking mount, which tilts the system based on the sun's location, allowing more flexibility in placement. 

3. Choose a reliable company

The DOE offered several suggestions for finding the right company to assist you with the transition to solar energy. Before you select a firm, you should consider its experience and reputation, in addition to the price it quotes. A few skills to inquire about are the level of experience with both grid-connected and grid-independent systems as well as its understanding of zoning code and the permitting process.

One reliable way to check the company's past success is with the Better Business Bureau and licensing board, according to the DOE. These organizations will have records of any complaints related to that company. Forbes recommended interested parties ask the business for at least two recent customer references.

Finally, the price you're quoted can impact who you choose to install your solar panels. The DOE said you should try for bids from multiple companies, but be sure they are quoting for the same system. An ideal bid will include an estimation of how much energy the system will produce, the maximum generating capacity in watts or kilowatts, the output at the inverter and system capacity in AC watts under standard test conditions. The total amount should reflect the cost of hardware, installation, connection the grid, sales tax, a warranty and permits.

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