7 Key Steps to Take When Switching to Solar
There are roughly 2 million solar panel home installations across the country. The vast majority of those installations are in the state of California.
As solar panel popularity pushes from the west coast, inland, more people are toying with making the switch to solar. We're here to tell you that there's a very good chance that making that switch could make a lot of sense.
To help you on your way towards clean energy, we discuss 7 key steps you should plan on taking as you make your solar transition. We hope that with a plan laid out, you'll feel more confident in taking the leap!
1. Know Your Why
More than anything else, knowing why you want to switch to solar is what's going to power your momentum. So, what's your reason for hopping on the clean energy train?
Are you trying to save money on electricity? If yes, then compare electricity plans to know better. Does helping protect the planet from fossil fuel damage mean something to you?
Whatever your why is, know it well and make sure it's inspiring enough to power you through your transition. If your why isn't moving, you'll likely balk at some of the up-front costs associated with adopting solar panels.
2. Determine If Solar Makes Sense in Your Area
While it would be great if every house around the country could install solar panels, for many, doing so may not represent the ROI they're looking for. Solar panel efficiency relies on sun exposure. To that end, if you live in an area that's gloomy for the majority of the year, your house will be limited in the amount of solar power it'll be able to use.
Sunny states like California, Arizona, Utah, and the like stand to benefit the most from leveraging solar energy. Thanks to the high demand and local government incentives, installing solar panels in Utah, and similar states, is more affordable and efficient than ever before.
3. Shop Around for Panels
After you've defined your why and have given your local weather some thought, if buying into solar still makes sense, your next step will be to start comparing prices. There are several solar providers out there, all of which offer different deals and terms.
One of the key options you'll run into when shopping for panels is whether you want to lease or buy your equipment. Be wary of leasing options as some solar providers create lease agreements that allow them to retain most of the upside of your energy savings. That's not to say that all lease options don't make sense. Just read your contract carefully and be diligent when crunching numbers.
4. Set Your Payoff Date
As you crunch solar numbers, one of the main figures you'll want to discover is your payoff date. Your payoff date is the projected date that your energy savings will have covered the costs of adopting solar.
You can discover your rough payoff date by projecting your estimated annual energy cost savings and seeing how many years it would take to cover the price tag of the panels you're considering. Of course, there are certain fringe maintenance expenses associated with panels that may throw your payoff date off. With some finessing though, you'll be able to develop an understanding of when your investment will be in the black.
5. Talk to Stakeholders If Necessary
All of your research on panel prices and payoff projections are done. Now, if the numbers make sense, you're about ready to move into solar's purchase and installation phase. Before you purchase your panels and hire solar installers, you need to ask yourself if other parties need to be notified.
Specifically, you need to make sure your landlord or HOA is okay with solar panels going up on your roof, if applicable.
Historically, getting solar panels installed on HOA or landlord controlled properties has been difficult. More are opening up to the idea recently, particularly in solar-centric states.
When receiving approval from a governing body for panel installation, get it in writing to avoid future complications.
6. Complete Your Installation
Solar panel installations take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on your contractor and the kind of roof you have.
On your install day, keep in contact with your contractor to make sure you know when they plan on starting their work. Make sure their projected start time aligns with community guidelines regarding when construction projects can take place. Furthermore, know what your obligations are as far as filing for construction permits go.
7. Understand Your Maintenance Responsibilities
You may be surprised to learn that your solar responsibilities go beyond just putting panels on your roof and raking in the savings.
Baseline maintenance responsibilities for solar panels include cleaning your panels on a quarterly basis and adjusting their positioning to best face the sun as its trajectory changes throughout the year.
Talk to your solar salesperson to learn about additional maintenance directions your panel's manufacturer has set forth. If you neglect to follow manufacturer required maintenance, you may end up voiding your panel's warranty.
Making the Switch to Solar Is Meaningful on Multiple Levels
Most people's inspiration behind making the switch to solar is related to financial gain. Saving money is a great motivator but understand that solar swaps have a much bigger impact.
With energy demand skyrocketing as large countries develop, projections regarding the possibility of power shortages are bleak. By going solar, you become part of a global energy solution that will make your community more sustainable.
That's an advantage worth celebrating!
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