Solar-powered homes were first seen back in the in the 1970s but they only started to become very popular in the past ten years. A plethora of solar energy federal and local tax incentives along with increasing worries about climate change are making them even more popular.
Installing solar panels can decrease your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. You’d have to plant 88 trees every year to offset that amount of carbon dioxide!
The process of designing, installing, and financing a solar system may seem to be a daunting project, but it’s really not difficult.
Project: Installing solar panels.
Why: To reduce your carbon footprint and save money every month on your electricity bill
How it works: Solar panels are photo-voltaic (PV) cells. In a nutshell, these special batteries harness sunlight, transform it into energy, and then send that energy to a power converter which converts it into electricity to power your home.
Who to hire: Installing solar panels isn’t as simple as slapping cells on a rooftop. You’ll need to install additional wiring, and panel placement is key to building an efficient system. So this is one that’s best left for the pros.
Cost range: The price of solar panels has dropped 60 percent since the beginning of 2011. Together with federal and local tax credits and subsidies, the cost has become far more moderate than even a few years ago.
Tax incentives: The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30 percent tax credit for residential and commercial properties that convert to solar energy by the end of 2016.
Is it better to lease, buy or finance? Solar leases have become an increasingly popular option as a way to defray the up-front costs. Leasing companies will also usually pay for repairs and maintenance. However, a permanent installation not only comes with tax advantages, but it will also likely increase the value of your home, as the new buyers will be able to save energy on day one. Historically low interest rates are also making it easy for homeowners with good credit to get a good deal on a loan.
How long does it take to install a solar system? Wiring and installation generally take a few days. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months between the time you sign the contract and the actual installation, however.
It seems obvious, but your roof needs to receive direct sun during the time of day when the sunlight is strongest (usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) for your system to work efficiently. Trees, tall buildings, and even a chimney can all affect your panels’ sun exposure. And different kinds of panels react in various ways to shadow; some reduce output, and others shut down altogether. The more hours your panels are exposed to full sun, the more efficiently they’ll generate power.
The Genn Companies are experts in solar energy design, installation, and finance. One call to our sales office will put you in touch with professionals who will guide you through the process of becoming a Solar Smart homeowner!