10 Nov How to Know If Your Home is a Good Choice for Solar Panels
Is my home a good fit for solar? There are several factors to take into consideration in determining the viability of a solar panel system. Atmospheric considerations, shading, and roof condition are all central aspects of the decision. We will discuss each in detail here. To calculate your initial results, try our Solar Calculator.
Installing your panels on a south-facing roof is generally ideal in the northern hemisphere. The more square footage you can get on the south-facing side of your house, the more your system can generate. West-facing is secondary, and East is tertiary in terms of getting the most energy output from your panels. East-facing panels also produce energy later in the day. This is helpful, as electricity is more expensive in the afternoons. Systems on flat roofs or mounted on the ground will be tilted to provide a south-facing exposure. Remember that shading in an area can change from summer to winter as the sun’s path changes.
Your roof should be newer and able to hold the weight of the solar panels at 3-5lbs per square foot. We review the condition and quality of your roof and make an appropriate proposal. Sometimes, you will need to make adjustments or replacements to your roof for solar. Panels can last for up to 25 years, so you will want to ensure your roof is ready to last just as long.
Ideally, you would need 100 square feet of unshaded roof for every kilowatt of electricity. Throughout the day, shading changes naturally. It is ideal for panels to be free from shade during the sunniest parts of the day. It is also important to be aware of objects that have the potential to create shade. Trees, adjacent buildings, and powerlines are all important to take into consideration. Chimneys, vents, skylights, and chimneys are important to note, but panels can be sized and placed around them.
We will also gather your last 12 months of energy consumption, focusing on the average number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) your home consumed each month. This is used as a baseline for your energy needs and solar panel sizing. It is also important to note, a solar system can only be installed if you own your home or the homeowner wishes to install them.
Questions to Consider
The size of your solar panels is less about the size of your home and more about your current and future energy consumption habits over the next 25 years, which is the approximate lifetime of your panels. Some important questions include:
- How many people live in your home and how often are they there? Does anyone else plan to move in or out in the next few years?
- Do you have children living in the home?
- What are your current day and nighttime thermostat settings?
- Do you and/or your spouse work from home?
- How energy efficient is your home and how new/old are your major appliances?
- How old is your HVAC system and what is the SEER rating of your air conditioning condenser unit(s)?
- Are you planning on building an add-on or a pool to your home in the future?
Many utilities give access to detailed consumption data online that you can download. You should be able to find this information when you log in to your online utility portal.
Once we understand consumption patterns, we begin the process of discovering how to eliminate your electric bill. This is where our Design Process shines.
Learn more about if solar is right for you by using our Solar Calculator.