Ensuring Your Home is a Good Candidate for Solar Panels

There are a few important steps to take if you're interested in installing solar panels on your home, and one of the first here is evaluating whether your home is a robust candidate for such panels. While improvements in solar panel technology has widely increased the percentage of homes that qualify for solar panels in recent years, it's still worth confirming that yours is one of these before moving forward.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're here to help. We offer a huge range of both commercial and residential solar panel services, including installation of the Tesla Powerwall battery backup. If you contact us to find out about your options for solar panels on your home, we'll walk you through several important factors that will help us determine whether the home is a suitable candidate for solar panels (most are). Here are some of these variables so you're aware of them in advance.

Financial Considerations

One of the first areas to evaluate here involves a few financial considerations, the first of which is your existing electricity bill and what you're hoping to save by going solar. Solar panel systems only generate electricity when the sun is shining, so if you're looking to go "off-grid" and not rely on your local utility company at all, your system will need to be sized accordingly.

Keep in mind that even if you don't want to go completely off-grid and would like to stay connected to your local power company, you can still benefit from installing solar panels. Solar electric companies will often offer convenient payment programs that won't tie up your money and actually allow you to buy less electricity from them over time as the system generates more of what you need.

However, fully evaluating the financial side also requires a solar installer to provide an assessment of some physical qualities and related themes. Our next several sections will go over these.

Roof Size

First and foremost, your home's roof needs to be large enough to accommodate the installation of solar panels. While this may seem like an obvious requirement, some people end up buying homes that simply don't have enough space on the roof to accommodate solar panels (or at least not able to generate an efficient amount of electricity).

As a quick rule, you'll need about 100 square feet of array space for every kilowatt of installed solar panels. So, if you're looking to install a 5 kW system, for example, your roof should have at least 500 square feet of space (not including any space necessary for ground-mounted systems). However, this can vary significantly depending on the type of solar panels you choose and other factors.

Roof Pitch

Next up for our installers to check on will be the pitch of your roof, or the angle of the roof's incline. If your home's roof has a pitch of at least 30 degrees, it won't be difficult to support solar panels. However, if you have a steeper pitch than this, your options are significantly more limited.

For roofs with pitches between 10 and 30 degrees, making use of commercially-available "low-slope" solar mounting systems could be an option. However, these do add to the cost of installing a solar system significantly and may not be worth it if your roof already has a very light pitch to begin with.

Roof Direction

You've likely heard a bit about this area if you've looked into solar panels at all, as it's one of the most important factors in determining how much electricity your system will generate. Simply put, you want your solar panels to face south (in the northern hemisphere) to get the most sun exposure throughout the day.

However, this absolutely does not mean that you should just give up if your roof faces east or west. Because of the earth's rotation, solar panels that face east or west can still get more than enough sun exposure to generate plenty of power -- you may just have to install extra panels to get the same level of power production in some cases (not all).

Possible Obstructions

In addition to all of the above, your solar panel installer will evaluate your home for any potential obstructions that could block the sun's rays from reaching your panels. Trees, mountains, and other buildings can all significantly reduce the amount of energy your system will generate.

While there unfortunately isn't much you can do about some of these things, you may be able to take measures to minimize the effects of others. For example, you could consider trimming or even cutting down certain trees or other plants that are shading your home.

Roof Materials Used

Also worth considering here will be roof material, as some materials are more conducive to installing solar panels than others. Metal and tile roofs, for example, are both good choices for solar installation, while asphalt shingles can be a bit more difficult (though not impossible).

To be clear, solar panels can be installed over virtually any material out there -- there are just some that make the process a bit more (or less) convenient.

Local Regulations

The area where you live may have some regulations in place about solar panel installation. For example, in some places you may be required to get a permit before installing solar panels on your home.

It's important to be aware of any and all regulations that could affect your ability to install solar panels before getting too far into the process. You don't want to get started and realize later that you can't actually put panels up.

Proper Clearances for Wiring

Finally, because solar panels involve connections to electrical wiring, you'll need to ensure that there's enough space near your home for this wiring. Your installer will be able to make sure there are no issues here before starting work.

For more on how to determine if your home is a good candidate for solar power (which it likely is), or to learn about any of our solar panel installations or related services, speak to the pros at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.

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