Converting to solar energy provides compelling financial and environmental benefits to homeowners. It saves electricity, reduces carbon emissions, boosts property value, and can even help pay dividends when used wisely. Is your home suitable for solar, and how can you get the most out of your investment?
Check your home’s roof orientation, angles, conditions, and sun exposure to confirm solar suitability. Orientation and angle have the most significant effect on solar efficiency. You should also consider local regulations, energy consumption, and budget before getting solar installations.
Before transitioning to renewable energy, exploring whether your home is suitable for solar panels is imperative. Our guide will illuminate the most important factors influencing your home’s suitability for solar and, if eligible, how to maximize its efficiency.
Here's What Matters
More and more homeowners are transitioning to renewable energy. However, unfortunately, not all homes are suitable for solar installations. Factors like the age of your roof, sunlight exposure, and your home orientation must be carefully considered.
Proper planning allows homeowners to maximize solar energy, leading to impressive long-term savings and virtually free electricity.
To ensure your home is suitable for solar and to maximize the output of the solar panels after installation, consider the following factors.
What direction is your rooftop facing?
Rooftop solar panels in the United States are most efficacious when installed on a south-facing roof. While the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, its complex movements throughout the day impact the direction of the most significant electricity output. The sun is always in the northern hemisphere – the southern half of the sky – making it the best direction for solar panels.
Improper orientation will prevent your panels from getting optimal exposure time to the sun, reducing your energy output drastically. Although east- or west-facing panels still capture the sun and produce energy, they will produce up to 20% less energy than south-facing panels.
Ultimately, the best roof slope for solar ranges between 30° and 40° to ensure maximum energy output. At this angle, the solar panels can lie flat against the roof without needing to tilt. However, some roof designs feature a steeper or lower design.
Steeper roof angles make it challenging to install the panels with a standard racking system without decreasing energy generation. It’s best to install the solar panels flush against the roof for optimal energy output.
In comparison, installing solar onto a flat or low-angled roof may require mounting equipment to tilt the panels to the best angle. This may require additional labor and installation fees.
Homeowners need to evaluate the age and condition of their roofs before installing solar energy.
The material of your roof will directly influence installation costs. Solar panels require sturdy, durable roofing materials, like asphalt or composite shingles, concrete tiles, or corrugated metal roofs for simplistic installation. It cannot be installed onto asbestos, thatch, or glass roofs.
Roof Age & Condition
The standard expectancy for residential solar panels’ lifespans is 25 to 30 years. Even after that, they continue to convert sunlight into renewable energy – just less efficiently than when new.
If your roof needs renovation within a few years, it’s best to take care of replacing the roof before installing solar. That way, homeowners can prevent paying extra time and money disconnecting the panels during renovations.
If your roof is older than 10 years, consider scheduling a roof inspection to check for potential signs of damage that may need repairing or replacing before installing solar panels.
Climate & Sunlight Exposure
Your region’s climate will have a major impact on how much renewable energy your solar panels produce. For example, Yuma, Arizona, receives over 240 days of sunshine yearly. Conversely, Juneau, Alaska, averages as little as 44 days of sun.
It’s also important to consider the amount of shade around your home. Solar panels can generate energy in the shade, but it’s much less than the system’s optimal capacity.
Homeowners can consider raising solar panels in areas covered by trees or other buildings.
The climate also affects the lifespan and efficiency of solar panels. For example, the hotter your climate, the more likely the solar panels are to degrade. Other weather conditions like humidity, hail, and high winds can also cause additional damage to solar panels.
Household Energy Consumption
Evaluating your household’s current energy consumption is essential when determining if solar panels are suitable for your home – and how many panels you’ll need. In some cases, solar panels do not yield the expected return on investment due to less-than-optimal conditions.
Review your past six months of energy bills and local electricity rates to determine your household’s average usage. Then, consider possible future changes in electricity consumption, like LED lights, energy-efficient appliances, and heat pumps.
Homeowners typically only benefit from their investment after six to ten years. However, solar panels function optimally for around 25 years before seeing a decline. So, you’ll be saving on utility bills for over 15 years.
Ensure you deep dive into your state and local regulations and the homeowners’ association covenants related to solar, including building codes, zoning laws, and environmental impact regulations. Homeowners can contact the local building department to inquire about solar installation requirements, permits, and fees.
It’s also worth looking into whether your local department allows net metering. This system allows homeowners with efficient solar panels to channel excess electricity to the grid while receiving credit on utility bills.
Solar installation can be a pricey project. Homeowners need to have a realistic budget and consider available financing options.
Larger solar systems are generally the way to quickly offset your electrical usage; however, they are costly and do not fit everyone’s budget.
If your local department allows it, you can use net metering credits to offset the power costs you may need to draw from the grid if you do not have a battery storage system.
Solar panel installation might not be the best financial move for people who do not own their homes or aren’t allowed to take advantage of net metering.
The Next Move In Going Solar
Investing in solar is a smart move for homeowners with suitable conditions.
Now that you’ve determined whether solar energy is right for your home, it’s time to consult reputable solar panel experts for a trustworthy guide and quote to ensure you get the most out of your investment!