Going solar should never be an impulse buy. In fact, for most homeowners, going solar will be one of the largest purchases they make over their lifetime, after a home and a car.
Homeowners thinking about going solar should take the time and effort to determine if solar is a smart investment for their individual lives. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done, as many Americans are unfamiliar with the complexities of residential solar. To help homeowners get a better understanding of whether solar is right for their home and circumstances, we have put together 10 questions to ask when considering solar. Which include:
1. Why should I go solar?
The choice is up to you.
Most homeowners choose to go solar for the electricity bill savings. While this might be the initial attraction of going solar, many do not realize solar also allows you to control your power bill and increase your property value.
In some states like Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and others, solar owners can even get paid for excess energy their panels produce. This program is most often called net metering. You can find out about your state’s policies here.
Other non-fiscal related reasons to go solar are the reduction in carbon emissions, helping to create and sustain hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and promoting the future of renewable energy. No matter the answer, it is important to determine why you want to go solar, as it will heavily influence the answers to the rest of the questions listed below.
2. Is my house right for solar?
This question directly affects the cost and the savings associated with your custom solar panel system. For the most part, it is hard to determine on your own whether solar energy is right for your home, but there are three factors you can evaluate:
- The amount of sun your roof receives. If there is a large amount of shade, solar might not be a viable option.
- The direction of your roof. In the northern hemisphere, your roof should face south for the highest production.
- The cost of electricity in your region. The higher the price of electricity from your utility company, the more money you will be able to save by going solar.
If your home checks these boxes, solar power will likely be a wise investment for your home.
3. Is my electricity bill high enough to justify going solar?
Although you might have the ideal home design for solar panels, a low electricity bill might turn you away from installing a new system. Even if you live in a state or city charging expensive rates for power, if you do not use a large amount of power, solar might not be worth it.
A good rule of thumb to follow is having an energy bill higher than $75 dollars per month for solar to be worthwhile. As we mentioned in the previous question, the more you pay for electricity, the faster the panels can be paid off.
4. How should I finance my panels?
There are a variety of ways to finance your solar panels. At Blue Raven Solar, we exclusively offer ownership packages because we know it is the best way to take control of your electricity and save money quickly.
Other solar companies typically offer financing options like power purchase agreements (PPA) or leasing deals, which allow homeowners to go solar without paying any money out of pocket. The problem with these “deals” is the homeowner does not own their panels and will pay the solar company for electricity rather than a utility company. Like utility companies, solar companies who offer these deals will bump the cost of electricity up through price escalators every few years, cutting any savings the homeowner was once receiving. These solar companies also benefit from receiving all local and federal incentives like the 30% Federal Investment Solar Tax Credit (ITC). It is important to understand all the financing options and decide based on your budget.
Blue Raven Solar’s financing products are revolutionary in the solar industry. We believe they are making solar more accessible to homeowners. Learn more about our different options by getting a free quote from one of our solar experts.
5. How much does solar cost?
Outside of PPAs and leasing deals, a new solar system offsetting 100% of the average American household energy usage will typically cost around $22,000.
The cost is directly affected by how much energy you use, which means your home could need a system that costs above or below the average price. It is difficult to estimate the exact cost of a system without proper information. Most solar companies will build out an accurate estimate by using the last six months of your energy bills and utilizing sun tracking software to determine the necessary size of your system to generate 100% of your power needs.
The price of solar can also be affected by the provider. If you are curious to see who offers the cheapest prices or has the highest reviews, we recommend using a resource like BestCompany or SolarReviews to get an unbiased opinion on the best solar company in your neighborhood or local area.
6. How much money will I save with solar?
It is hard to be happy with the price of solar if you are unable to determine how much it will allow you to save. Luckily, solar companies always calculate how much a homeowner can save by installing a custom rooftop solar system. Your savings are determined by several factors.
First, if you decide to own your system, you are entitled to the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC allows you to take 30% of the total cost of your system and apply it as a tax credit in the following year. So, if you purchase a $20,000 system, you will be able to take $6,000 off your taxes the following year.
Another factor influencing your savings is how you finance your system. A lease or PPA deal will only allow homeowners to save a couple dollars a month, while a purchased system will usually put 100% of your power bill back into your pocket. If you purchase your panels with a loan, the loan payment would ideally be lower than your monthly power bill, allowing for automatic monthly savings. Overall, after solar ownership, the typical system on an optimal home will pay itself off in 6-8 years.
7. What type of panels should I be looking for?
Solar panels are continually changing in size, power production, and efficiency. It is important to know what is available. Homeowners usually have more preferences regarding the look of the panel rather than the technology within the panel. As far as aesthetics go, there are a variety of options, like black panels, blue panels, mounted panels, and solar shingles.
All panels will have a kilowatt-hour (kWh) number listed with them showing how many kilowatts a panel will produce per hour in the sun. Typically, the higher the number, the more expensive the panel. You do not have to worry too much about the quality of panels because all accredited solar companies will be up to date on their product and want to provide the highest quality options for their customers.
8. How long will my solar panels last?
Solar panel technology has improved in the last decade, but it is hard to know exactly how long your panels will last. Most solar companies claim their solar panels will produce at a profitable efficiency for at least 25 years.
This means over time, your solar panels will suffer a slight degradation, which is about 0.8-1.2 percent per year of original efficiency. This degradation is often caused by dirt, pollen, and other external factors, so it is important to clean your panels. Although your panels will become slightly less efficient over time, it is important to consider the degradation will not be significant until decades of high efficiency production.
9. Do solar panels have a warranty?
Accredited solar companies will offer energy, workmanship, and panel warranties upon purchasing your new panels.
At Blue Raven Solar, we offer a 24-month production guarantee, which means if your panels do not work as they should over the 24-month span, we will cover the difference. We also offer a 10-year workmanship warranty, which means we will fix any improper installations or damage to your solar array up to ten years after purchase. Lastly, most panel manufacturers include a 25-year panel warranty allowing our customers to replace any defective panels free of charge.
10. How do I know which solar company to trust?
One of the most difficult decisions when considering going solar is which company to trust. If you have completed some research, you know there are thousands of solar companies to choose from. Trust those with a positive review average, customer testimonials, accreditations, and those that own their mistakes and do what they can to fix them.
To learn more about choosing the right solar company, check out Finding a Reputable Solar Company.
The Blue Raven Solar Difference
With Blue Raven Solar, you can trust you are getting the best products and services. We want our customers to be informed, so we are transparent and enjoy answering questions. In fact, review some of our most frequently asked questions.
Price shopping takes time and effort, and you never know whether you’re getting the best deal. Although price is important and should be a significant factor in determining who to partner with, Blue Raven Solar believes the partnership between the homeowner and solar company is just as important.
Blue Raven Solar was founded on the mission to make homeowners’ lives better. Everything we do is connected to this goal. Our standards of trust, efficiency, and improvement are three important parts of our operations, and these values set us apart.
Before you go looking for every price available on the market, get a free savings report and become part of our movement.