Top 4 Things to Consider when Contemplating a Solar Electric System

PLANNING A HOME SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM

planning a home solar system

To help you decide whether a home solar energy system will work for you, you need to consider the following factors:

• The available solar resource – Do you have unobstructed and clear access to sunlight through the day and throughout the year?

• The size of the system – Do you have a large area or roof to accommodate the system?

• The economics – Is the investment worth it?

• Local covenants and permits – Will you face any issues when you try to get a new system installed?

EVALUATING THE SOLAR RESOURCES FOR YOUR SITE

The solar resource across the country is more than enough for solar energy systems – also known as photovoltaic systems – as they use both scattered and direct sunlight. But, the amount of electricity it generates depends on the quantity of sun’s energy that reaches it. PV systems function at their most efficient in the south-western US, which gets the greatest solar energy.

Before you invest in a photovoltaic system, make sure that the site has enough energy to economically and efficiently meet your electricity needs. Your local supplier can perform a site analysis or tell you how to do it. When you are evaluating the site, consider the tilt and geographic orientation of the solar panels as they can affect the performance of the system.

THE ECONOMICS BEHIND SOLAR ELECTRIC POWER

The economics of a home PV system are determined by the operating and capital costs. The cost of designing and installing the system make up the capital cost. Operating costs include the cost of operating and maintaining the system over its useful life. The factors that affect it include:

• System size.
• System components.
• Whether a system is stand-alone or connected to the grid.
• The amount of sunlight at the solar site.

YOUR ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION

Before you select the system components and size a PV system for your home, evaluate your consumption patterns and try to cut down on your electricity usage. Perform a load analysis by:

• Going through your utility bills for the year.
• Calculating the amount of energy consumed.
• Recognizing seasonal and other trends in your consumption.

Once you understand your energy habits and become more efficient, you can go for a smaller PV system, which will lower your operating and capital costs considerably. If, on the other hand, you are designing a new home, work with the solar professional and builder to incorporate the solar system into the design of your house.

COST CONSIDERATIONS

Ask your provider about the amount of electricity that the PV system will produce in a year and compare that to your yearly electricity usage to get an idea of your savings. As a rule of thumb, the cost per KWh (Kilowatt-hour) goes down as the size of the system increases.

Learn more about the subsidies, rebate programs, and other incentives that will make your solar electric system more affordable. From sales and property tax exemption to state personal income tax credits, the economic benefits more than make up for the upfront investment. The energy independence and environmental benefits offered by the use of PV systems definitely tips the scale in its favor. To learn more about how your home or business may benefit from solar electric power, contact one of our solar consultants today.

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