Is your home solar-ready?

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Shading.  The ideal spot for solar panels has no shade from trees, buildings, or other objects.  Many homeowners go forward with solar installations despite some degree of shading, accepting that although production will be affected the project is worthwhile anyway.  A solar contractor can help you determine the extent of your shading and how it will affect the return on your investment.
  • Age and condition of your roof.  Solar panels are expected to produce electricity for at least 30 years. Shingles may only hold up for 20 years, depending upon their rating.  If your roof is more than 10 years old, most would recommend replacing it before installing solar, or at least replacing the portion that would be under the array.  On the other hand, some installers say that it’s feasible to remove and then re-install an array in order to replace the roof later, so it’s worth talking with a contractor if you’re in doubt.  Regardless of the age of your roof, all leaks and other damage must be repaired before installing solar!
  • Roof space available.  Skylights, dormers, vents, chimneys, and other obstacles can all get in the way of rooftop solar installations. However, experienced installers often have clever workarounds for challenging roofs, so again, if in doubt, talk to an installer.
  • Energy efficiency.  Have you done what you can to reduce your household’s electricity needs? It makes little sense to invest in extra solar equipment to produce electricity that will be wasted.  Some common inefficiencies include inadequate roof and wall insulation, old (inefficient) refrigerators and freezers, top-loading washing machines and heavy use of electric dryers, a habit of heating and cooling spaces when no one is home (or everyone is asleep), and using inefficient lighting (incandescents vs. compact fluorescents and LEDs).

Are you able to purchase a solar array?

Solarize Programs.  If you have the means to contract with a professional solar installation company, that is definitely the way to go.  Solar contractors are quick, efficient, and professional; they get the job done and guarantee their work.  Check the SIREN website to see when the next Solarize event is taking place, and attend to learn about how solar works as well as the financial aspects of a solar investment.  Even if you need to take out a loan, it can be effective to purchase solar and pay down your debt with whatever you would have spent on electricity. 

Solar for All.  If you need help purchasing a solar array, SFA may be able to help.  Fill out the ISFA pre-screening questionnaire, and you will be contacted when preparations are underway for the next round of installations.  Assistance is awarded on a sliding scale.  All recipient households must pay back to the program with sweat equity, which includes participating in installations and supporting the organization through fundraising, publicity, volunteer management, and so on.  (Participants may also recruit family and friends to help fulfill volunteer requirements.)