Purchasing solar panels is no easy task. Every year there are more options, more manufacturers, more installers, but generally lower prices. Provided federal solar rebates are renewed (and the residential rebate cap removed) buying panels will become an even more lucrative investment. But getting started can become very confusing. The solar train is moving fast, with almost daily innovations, but you don’t have to run to catch up with it. As your making the move to solar, take your time. When you start shopping around for solar panels, here are five tips that I hope will help you out:
- Determine the type of panels you need. There are two main types right now: PV, mono-crystalline panels and thin-film, amorphous silicon panels. The former have the higher efficiency at the moment, which may be necessary if you have a small roof space. The latter have the aesthetic value, especially if you have a large roof space or partial shading. Yet efficiency is not the only factor. Your location, climate, position relative to the sun, and roof type are just some.
- Panel certifications will be vital to getting approved for state or federal rebates. Many states have a certain set of standards which all solar panels must meet. These standards will likely vary in some way from state to state. You can check this site to find your state’s incentives and appropriate links to find solar panel requirements.
- Calculate your needs. Grab your past electric bills out of your files. You can use these to calculate your daily energy usage. Different solar panels have different outputs in watts. Using available space and panel output, you can figure out which panels and how many of them you’ll need.
- Mounting system. Depending on the pitch of your roof and the position of your home, you may choose a ground mount system. This will mean PV panels and some extra money for the mounting system itself. However, you will have the advantage of choosing the proper tilt and, if you so choose, a solar tracker to follow the sun across the sky.
- Warranties are a vital factor when buying panels. Solar panels require very little maintenance and use no controls to run. Therefore they have very long lives and usually come with substantial warrantees. When comparing solar panel providers, check their warranties against each other. It is not atypical for panels to have a 25 year warranty.