10 things you should know before installing solar panels

March 4, 2019 | 7min read

Installing solar panels is an excellent way to invest in your home that pays dividends by way of future savings. To get the most out of your investment in solar energy, here are a few things you should know about your home, the area you live in, state and federal benefits, and lots more. With careful planning, a home solar panel system is an investment that can pay dividends (in energy savings) for decades to come. Here are ten things you should know before installing solar panels to get the most out of your investment.

Get the FAQ’s of going solar with Freedom Forever

How much sunlight does your property get?

How much sun does my house get is the very first question you should ask because the answer to it determines if your property is right for solar panels. Google has a free tool called Project Sunroof that can give you an accurate assessment of how much power you could generate annually with solar panels on your roof. All you need to do is input your address and Google will tell you how much your potential savings could be. To get the most accurate prediction of how much you can save by going solar, have a utility bill handy. When Project Sunroof tells you what your potential savings are, find the box on the page that says: “What’s your average monthly electric bill.” Move the slider in that box to the average amount you pay per month for electricity. You’ll find that information on your electric bill. Once you’ve input your average electric bill amount, Project Sunroof will give you a viable estimate of how much you’ll save by going solar.

What kind of roof do you have?

The type of material used to roof your house matters. Concrete shingle is better than clay tile for solar panel installation. Roof types that solar panels are installed on include:

  • Composite – Shingles made to look like wood or slate but made of composite material
  • Tile – Made of clay.
  • Metal – Metal tiles or sheets
  • Tar – Also known as tar and gravel roofs
  • Gravel – Same as Tar roofs
  • Torch-Down – Often low angle or flat roofs
  • Wood Shake – Made of wood, often not permitted in high fire risk areas
  • Foam – Often applied on top of existing roofs

If your roof type isn’t listed above, don’t worry, solar panels can be installed on nearly every kind of roof. A solar power installation company such as Freedom ForeverTM can advise you about mounting solar panels on your roof.

What is the condition of your roof?

Solar panels can be costly to remove once they are installed. For that reason, you should look at the condition of your roof when choosing to go solar. If your roof needs repairs to last reliably for 20 or more years, make those repairs before installing solar panels. If you aren’t sure about the condition of your roof, then consider hiring a roofing company to come to your home and inspect it for you.

Which is best for you: Rooftop solar, ground-mount, or a Tesla roof?

Most people decide to install rooftop solar. It is the cheapest to install, so you’ll get more ROI out of your solar power system going rooftop. Ground-mounted is the right choice if panels can’t be mounted on your roof or if you have better exposure to the sun at a location on the ground. A solar power installation company can help you decide. But again, if you are like most homeowners, you’ll mount your system on the roof.

The Tesla roof has a lot of curb appeal, but it also has a high price tag. And despite the cost, Tesla roofs aren’t as efficient as solar panels, so you’ll likely have to settle for less power generated versus solar panels. But if you are already planning to re-roof, and are concerned about curb appeal, a Tesla roof might make sense for you.

Do home batteries make sense financially?

It depends. Home batteries hold enough power to run a home for around 4 – 6 hours. If you live in an area with Time-of-Use (ToU) billing, you can use your batteries to power your home during peak rates and save considerably. If those peak rates are in the evening, after the sun goes down, they can make a lot of sense. They could help you avoid paying the highest rates. Home batteries make a lot of sense in California due to the state’s high peak ToU rates. California residents are also eligible for a state incentive for batteries called the Self Generation Incentive Program. It pays up to $400 per kilowatt-hour of installed battery capacity. Freedom Forever carries the Tesla Powerwall battery system which can be expanded to provide as many kilowatts of power that you need.

Batteries are warrantied to last for only ten years. Because of this, to figure out if they make sense financially, you’ll need to calculate how much you’ll save over ten years by avoiding peak ToU rates. If the amount you’ll save is higher than the batteries’ price, then batteries may make sense for you.

Should you buy your solar power system, lease it, or choose a Power Production Agreement (PPA)?

Purchase: The decision to buy depends on your finances. If you have good credit, you’ll get the highest return on investment from your solar power system by buying it. Even after loan costs are figured in, purchasing gives you your best bang for the buck when going solar. Some finance companies offer more aggressive financing than others, so shop around. Freedom Forever is able to provide zero-down financing even with a FICO score as low as 600.

PPA: A Power Purchase Agreement is a contract between a homeowner and a solar power company for the homeowner to pay a rate for electricity that is lower than what that homeowner would pay the utility company. You don’t save as much as you do with a purchased system, but if you can’t finance a system, a PPA is a great option that can still save you tens of thousands of dollars depending on what rates you’re paying now and how much power you use.

Lease: When you lease a solar power system, you agree to pay a fixed monthly payment for the system. A lease can be an attractive option if you can find a lower monthly payment than you’d get with a PPA.

What are the Federal and state incentives offered in your area for going solar?

The Federal tax rebate for solar systems that come online (begin generating electricity) by December 31, 2020, are eligible for up to a 26% tax rebate on the cost of their solar installation. To take advantage of the tax credit, you must owe more in taxes than the amount of the rebate. You are even allowed to spread the rebate over several tax years. After December of 2020, though, the Federal tax rebate shrinks to 22%, after that, it will be phased out entirely. Thus, if you are thinking of going solar, now is a good time!

State incentives vary. You should look up what incentives are available in your state because while they may differ, some form of incentive is available in every state. These incentives can vary from outright cash incentives to tax incentives, to lower rates for people that own electric cars.

PPA and lease customers aren’t eligible for any Federal or state incentives. Those incentives go to the company you leased or signed a PPA with for solar power. That is part of the way that the lease or PPA company makes its money.

How do you maintain solar panels?

The great news is that solar panels require very little maintenance. Just brush or squeegee the dust off of them when they get dirty, and that’s it! Solar power systems are very reliable, so you don’t have much to worry about. About the only thing that can go wrong is if your system stops producing power and you don’t find out about it until you get your next utility bill. That bill will be unexpectedly high. You would have lost the savings that could have come from your system if it hadn’t broken down. Thus most solar power customers need to monitor their systems to ensure they are still producing power. Except for Freedom Forever customers that is!

How to guarantee your solar power system saves you money on electricity

Freedom Forever customers don’t need to worry that their solar panel systems will stop producing power for 25 years! Freedom Forever is the only solar power company that guarantees the amount of power your system will produce for 25 years. We’ll constantly monitor your system’s performance, and if it ever stops producing power, we’ll let you know and schedule a time to come to your home to fix it. The repairs are 100% paid by us, plus, we will reimburse you for any savings you lost while your system was down – we guarantee it!*

*Subject to terms and conditions of your agreement.

Is your home ready for solar? Find out by calling us at 800-685-1850 or click below to request a quote.