You’re already familiar with the benefits of using solar energy. After all, the energy and cost savings—and let’s not forget about the tax incentives—are what convinced you to go solar in the first place. But you may not know quite what to expect during the process from planning to installation. Here’s what it will be like to add solar power to your home.
Before digging in to the process of installing solar panels, it’s worth looking at what you can expect as far as costs go. On average, solar panels cost around $3-$4 per installed watt. Since many systems run around 5,000 watts, the total cost will be in the $15,000range, although prices will vary depending on how big your system is. However, tax incentives and no money down financing options can help bring this cost down significantly.
Although this sounds like a costly up-front price, solar panels prove to pay off. On average, they pay for themselves in 5-8 years thanks to the money you’re saving on your utility bill. However, don’t forget to consider that solar panels can boost your property value, which can also increase your home insurance a couple of dollars per month.
Installing solar panels is a very involved process, which is why it’s best left to the professionals. Not only do you not want to damage your roof, but only licensed electricians are legally allowed to wire up the system. So before you head straight to a supplier, you’ll want to consult with a professional company that will help install the solar panels.
During this time, a home evaluation will take place in which the professional views your property to plan where the panels are best installed. In general, the panels have to receive direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is strongest, so evaluating where to place the panels and if there’s enough space for them to run efficiently is a crucial step of the process. You’ll also discuss your electricity use and the size of the system you need, projected costs, and projected savings.
Post Proposal Approval
After you have approved the installer’s proposal, they must undergo a fairly long process of obtaining permits and filing the paperwork necessary to receive rebates and incentives. This can take several months until everything is in order for the actual installation. Ask your installer about this process to get a better estimate since the process length will change depending on where you live.
Once the installation team comes to your house, installation can take as little as two days, but may last up to five days or more depending on your home and system. The process begins by installing solar mounts on the roof of your home. Since holes are being drilled, this can be a noisy process, but if you’re at work or choose to step out of the house while installation is taking place, it’s hardly a hassle.
Next, metal flashings that help seal out water are secured over each mount, and then installers will attach metal rails to the posts. Then, the solar panels themselves are attached, and finally, the panels are connected to your inverter. At this time, you can begin using the energy from your solar panels, although some areas require an inspection of the system first.
While the wiring and installation process takes only a couple of days, homeowners should expect the entire process to take weeks to months after signing a contract. Be prepared for this along with large up-front costs, but also know that rebates and energy bill savings can help make a new solar array well worth your time, and your finances will thank you in the long-run.