If you’re thinking about putting solar panels on your rooftop, here’s some advice.
A few years ago, I put panels on my roof – and my overall experience has been good. But looking back, there were a few things I should have investigated closer.
Homeowners Association – Before you start a project, make sure you have cleared it with any homeowners association that may govern your neighborhood. In my case, they had to approve the design, and I actually had to pay them to do that.
Trees – Nearby trees may look small today, but over time they may grow and block some of the sun to your panels. My situation was a little challenging since some of the growing trees were in my neighbor’s yard.
Installers – Like any major home improvement project, do your homework when you decide on an installer. Check out the company’s history and its record with the Better Business Bureau and follow-up with past customers. Whether it’s solar panels or a new kitchen, you’re investing a lot of money and you need to learn as much as possible about the firm doing the work. There are good companies and bad ones out there.
Solar 101 – I get a lot of comments about being “off the grid.” However, I still depend on Duke Energy’s grid for a lot of electricity. I’ve reduced my energy consumption from my utility, but I still get an electric bill.
Also, be clear about whether your panels will supply electricity during a power outage. Many times, if there’s no power to your solar inverter, your panels will not produce power. Know exactly what you are (and aren’t) getting.
Utility – Make sure you know how your utility credits for excess energy. Every utility is different. Plus, be clear on any additional fees your utility may charge. If you are getting solar to save money, make sure you factor everything in.
Taxes – In many states, there are tax advantages to installing solar panels. However, you need to be able to take advantage of those tax incentives. A call to your tax professional is probably in order.
Resale – You may see you solar panels as a great asset to your property. But some potential homebuyers may see it as a concern – just one more thing that can break. Be aware not everyone looks at solar panels the same way.
Solar panels are a big investment. And like other big investments (home, car, etc…), learning as much as you can beforehand will pay off in the long run.