If you’re considering solar power for your home or building, there are a number of themes you should be thinking about here. Some of these relate to the physical elements of solar panels and their installation, including the roof (or another mounting location), the direction your home faces and a few related themes.
At Alternative Utility Services, Inc., we’re proud to offer both residential and commercial solar energy solutions to clients as part of our broad energy management programs. When it comes to solar panels and roofing, electronics, direction, trees and other physical needs for a solar installation, which sorts of things should you be asking our professionals about in advance to ensure you’re on the right track? Here’s a primer.
A common question we get from solar clients ahead of their installation: “Do I need a new roof before solar panels can be installed?”
The answer here is typically no — solar panels need a roof that’s in generally good condition, but they don’t have to be brand-new. Your roof should have enough years of life left in it to make the solar investment worthwhile, and your solar installer can work with you to ensure that the installation doesn’t cause any extra wear and tear on your roof.
That said, if your roof is in poor condition or you know it won’t last much longer, it’s worth considering a new roof installation before adding solar panels. A new roof will improve the overall efficiency of your solar installation and could add years of life to your solar panels.
If not, however, there is no need for roof replacement. Today’s solar panels can be installed on numerous different roof materials, including asphalt, wood, tile and metal. So even if your roof is older, it’s very likely that solar panels can still be installed on top of it.
It’s important to consider your home’s direction when installing solar panels. Homes with a southern exposure tend to get the most sunlight throughout the year, making them prime candidates for solar installations.
However, homes in northern climates can still benefit from solar power by installing their panels in a way that maximizes exposure to the sun. Your solar installer can help you determine the best direction for your home’s solar installation.
This is one area that’s improved significantly over the years as solar technology has advanced. Panels that face east or west can now still generate a significant amount of power, depending on your location and the time of year.
Along with direction, it’s important to think about the orientation of your home when installing solar panels. While a southern-facing home is ideal, not every building is set up that way. If your home is facing a different direction, don’t worry — there are still ways to make solar work for you.
In particularly cloudy climates, orienting your panels east or west can help increase the amount of sunlight they absorb. And if you’re in a sunny location with plenty of available rooftop space, installing panels in a north-south configuration can be a great way to take advantage of the sun’s power all day long.
One often-overlooked obstacle to solar installations is trees. Trees near your home can shade your roof and prevent sunlight from reaching your panels, decreasing their efficiency.
While there’s not much you can do about nearby trees, it’s important to take them into account when planning your solar installation. Your solar installer can help you find the best spot for your panels that will maximize their exposure to the sun. This may involve trimming some branches or removing trees entirely.
If you’re considering solar for your home, it’s likely that you’re already familiar with the benefits of renewable energy. But if you’re new to solar, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, solar panels require an electronic inverter to convert the DC power produced by the panels into usable AC power for your home. Your solar installer will provide you with a quality inverter that is designed to work with your specific solar installation.
Second, you’ll need to have an adequate electrical supply to support both your solar system and your existing appliances and electronics. Your solar installer can help you determine if you have enough available power and, if not, can recommend a solar system that will work with your existing electrical supply.
However, there are some who are under the mistaken impression that you’ll need to rewire an entire home or building to install solar panels. This is not the case. Solar panels can be installed in conjunction with your existing wiring, and no major rewiring is necessary.
Finally, one very important area for many homeowners to consider is the impact solar panels will have on their home value. While there is no one definitive answer to this question, studies have shown that solar installations can often increase a home’s resale value by upwards of $20,000.
However, these increases will only be seen if the solar system is installed properly and maintained well. A poorly installed or maintained system can have the opposite effect, costing you money in the long run.
When considering solar power for your home or building, it’s important to think about all of these different factors. Your solar installer will be able to help you navigate these considerations and find the best solar option for you — and our installers are always standing by to take your important questions before we get started.
For more on the important physical themes to ask your solar installer about, or to learn about any of our solar panel installations or other energy management services, speak to the team at Alternative Utility Services, Inc. today.
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