Steps for Going Solar

There are many reasons why you might want to go solar. Solar panels can help you save money on your electricity bill, they can increase the value of your home, and they can help reduce your carbon footprint, among other things. But before you can start reaping the benefits of solar power, there are a few key things to understand.

Conduct Some Research

The first step to going solar is to do some researching and figure out if solar power is right for you. There are a few things you’ll want to consider, such as how much sun exposure your home gets, what kind of roof you have, how much electricity you typically use and how you would like to pay for the solar panels.

There are a number of online tools that can help you quickly determine if your home is suitable for solar panels. The easiest way to estimate sun exposure and solar production is to use Google’s Project Sunroof:

Project Sunroof

The PVWatts calculator is the golden child of solar production and system performance estimates. This is an excellent tool for determining if your home is suitable for solar and the potential solar production your home is capable of.

Determine Your Roof Type

The following roof types are the most common and are excellent candidates for solar:

  • Corrugated Metal

  • Standing Seam Metal

  • Composite Shingle

  • Flat Roof (EPDM)

Most solar companies will perform an inspection of your roof to ensure it is suitable for solar panel installation. Composite shingles must be in good condition in order to install solar panel racking. If the shingles are degraded, a new roof is recommended to ensure a long system life.

How Much Energy Does Your Home Use?

A typical North Carolina average energy bill is anywhere from $100 to $250 per month. The higher your home’s energy consumption, the more solar panels you will need to offset it. The average solar system produces 10 kW of peak DC power, consisting of around 25-30 panels.

Finance or Out of Pocket?

A wide range of financing is available to homeowners looking to go solar. If your credit score is above 650, you may be eligible to finance the purchase of the system. Financing the system may be a great option since in most cases the monthly financing payment is below that of your typically utility bill, although this depends on each homeowner’s unique situation. Most solar loan offerings do not require a down payment and are fixed rate loans.

Another option is to pay out of pocket. Homeowners who pay out of pocket for solar reap the highest ROI, since their electricity cost is immediately negated by solar energy production. This allows the system to pay for itself more quickly, typically in 5-10 years. Once the system has paid for itself, homeowners will truly be generating their own electricity for free, for many years to come. Solar also frees you from the compounding effect of utility price increases, which increase on an average of 4% per year in North Carolina.

2. Choose The Right Solar Panel System For Your Home

There are a variety of solar panels, inverters, and batteries available on the market, so it’s important to choose one that’s right for your home. Factors to consider include the size of your roof, the amount of sun exposure your home gets, and how much electricity you typically use.

Pamlico Solar primarily installs Enphase micro inverter systems, due to their industry leading 25-year warranty, excellent efficiency and beautiful monitoring platform. Each module is equipped with a micro inverter, which converts direct current to alternating current directly beneath each module.

Enphase microinverter:

Another excellent option is a central string inverter system, where the entire inversion process takes place in one central inverter unit on the side of your home. Direct current from the solar panels is sent to the central inverter, which then converts the energy to alternating current. Central inverter systems utilize optimizers beneath each module, which optimize the power produced by the system, based on individual solar panel shading and cloudy conditions. Optimizers also carry rapid shut down safety functioning, which shutdown the system in the event of any faults.

Solar Edge Central Inverter:

3. Choose The Right Company

It is important to explore the different solar offerings and obtain multiple quotes from installers in your area. Use caution with solar companies who pose as full-service solar installation companies, but are really sales-only organizations. Many solar sales organizations are incentivized to charge as much as possible, since their revenue is based on receiving a commission for the amount sold over a specific price per watt. They also outsource the rest of the project’s management and the installation of the final product. There are many excellent solar subcontractors out there, so this is not always a bad thing, although communication between the company and homeowner may suffer. There is no doubt these organizations play an important role in the deployment of solar energy throughout North America, however it is important to explore all of your options.

3. Have Your Solar Panel System Installed

Once you’ve chosen the right solar installation company, the next step is to have it installed. The installation process is typically completed in 1-3 days and requires permits from your local government. Once your solar panel system is up and running, you’ll start seeing the benefits immediately.

4. Monitor Your Solar Panel System

After your solar panel system is installed, it’s important to monitor it to make sure it’s working properly. This involves checking the panels regularly to ensure they’re clean and free of debris, as well as monitoring your system’s production.

Most solar panel systems come equipped with a monitoring platform that allows homeowner’s to see exactly how much the system is producing in real time, each day, even down to the production of each solar panel at any given time. This monitoring platform is usually available in the form of a simple mobile app, allowing homeowners to see their solar production anywhere, at any time.

Going solar is a great way to save money, increase the value of your home, and help the environment. But before you can start reaping the benefits, you need to take a few steps to get set up. By doing your research, getting quotes from different solar companies, and choosing the right solar panel system for your home, you can make sure you’re on your way to a successful solar experience.