5 things to consider before installing solar panels on your home or business

Solar panels have been around for many decades, and technology has greatly improved in recent years. The price of installing solar panels has fallen by over 60% in the last 10 years making it more affordable for everyone. Switching to solar power helps to reduce air pollution, reverse our reliance on fossil fuels and lower energy bills. In most cases, solar panels also add value to a property, but before confirming your decision to install, pause for a moment to make sure it’s a viable project. By carefully considering your property, where it is located and how much power it uses, you’ll fully understand if solar is the right investment to make for your home or business. 

1. Take a Careful Look at Your Roof

Most solar panels are installed on the roof of a home or commercial building, so you need to understand what’s up there and whether it’s suitable. First, does it get enough light all year round? If the building is in amongst tall trees, or in the shadow of another structure much of the time, solar panels might not be viable. Panels don’t need full sun all day long, but they do require sufficient daylight for at least 4 hours a day to be beneficial. 

The shape and the size of the roof is also an important factor. If there isn’t enough available surface space for several panels, it might not be beneficial to install solar power. 

Solar panels add considerable weight to the roof structure, so a survey is required to ensure your property can take the added pounds. Your roof also needs to be in good condition. If you need roof repairs or think that they will be required soon, make sure these are completed long before any panels are installed. Getting to the roof after the solar system is fitted is going to be harder and more expensive. 

2. Understand the Financial Implications

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You might have more than one reason for choosing solar power, but it is always advisable to understand the costs and financial benefits before going ahead. Start by working out the consumption rate of your home or business. The easiest way to do this is to look at your past bills. The average solar panel produces 250 to 400 watts an hour, therefore, if your roof gets 6 hours a day, then one panel will provide 1.5 to 2.4 Kilowatts of electricity per day. Using these figures and your electricity bill, you can work out how many panels you would need to power your property. 

Armed with these figures, you can see if you have enough roof space to meet your consumption rate. Would you still have a sizeable bill to pay to the power company each month or would you have a surplus that you could sell back to them? If you’re expecting to make money selling your leftover power, how do you do this in your area and are there costs involved to set this up?

Fitting commercial PV systems ??can cost from $15,000 up to $30,000 and more, but there are ways to reduce this cost. Government incentives and tax rebates can help drastically reduce the price of solar panel installation. It’s important to understand the eligibility requirements, restrictions, and deadlines (if any) so you don’t miss out. A reputable, local supplier should be able to offer guidance about available incentives. 

3. Choosing the Best Supplier and Contractor

Take time to find the right company to supply and install your solar panels, don’t just go for the cheapest. The technology has come forward considerably over the years, and you want to install the latest products that have been tried and tested. There are different types of panels, and the installer must be able to determine and clearly explain which ones are the right ones for your property. If what you’re being told doesn’t sound right, invite another contractor to provide their advice and compare the answers. Choose an experienced team that has been around a considerable number of years and can provide references from several happy customers. It’s always best to have a solar specialist company fit solar panels, not a general contractor. It takes experience and in-depth understanding to fit the right solar system that is going to last effectively for many years.

4. Check the Warranties

Quality solar panels should come with a minimum 25-year manufacturer warranty as standard. You may even find some with 30-year warranties or longer. Warranties ensure that the manufacturer is accountable if their products fail or stop working properly as time passes and gives consumers additional peace of mind before they decide to invest. 

You should also check the installer’s warranty, as the panels will only work effectively if they have been fitted correctly. An installation warranty is usually much shorter than a manufacturer warranty, so it’s vital that you make sure you understand what is covered and how long the cover will last.

5. Understand the Maintenance Requirements

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Another factor to think about before installing solar panels is their maintenance requirements. Fortunately, there shouldn’t be a lot you need to do to maintain your system, but you have to be able to look after your system in the years ahead. 

Panels need regular cleaning to ensure they capture the sunlight. This means they need to be washed clean and have leaves or other debris removed. In the cooler months, snow must also be cleared off them for the panels to work at optimal levels. Think about how easy this will be for you or a caretaker to maintain and how safe is it to access the panels after installation.

A professional assessment of the structure on the roof is required periodically to make sure everything remains safely secured. Monitoring the output is ongoing too, but this is usually easier to access. 

Remember, it’s a Long-term Investment

Give yourself time to digest everything you’ve found out before handing over a deposit. While solar panels are perfect for many properties, they are not right for everyone. Solar panels are a positive investment in both your property and the planet, but it’s not something you can pack up and move to your next property. It’s a home improvement for the long-term, so make sure you have considered all the aspects before going ahead.  

Author Bio: This article was written by Martin Desmond of Solar Panels Ireland company Wizer Energy. Martin and his team provide comprehensive Domestic and Commercial PV Systems installation services nationwide.

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