You like the idea of generating clean, green solar energy. You’ve heard the price of solar components have gone down, the price of electricity keeps going up, that solar incentives are at its highest, and you’re sick of our country’s dependence on foreign fossil fuels. Consequently, you decide to contact a few solar installers in your area. Here are 5 ways you can prepare for your solar site evaluation:
- Find your Utility Provider – Solar incentives can vary based on your utility provider. Some state-fundedphotovoltaic rebate programs can exclude all or some municipal utilityproviders. Many times, municipal utilities have their own rebateprograms.
- Get your Annual Electricity Usage – A solar installer will beinterested in seeing how much energy you used in the last year. Thiswill determine how large of a solar electric system you need to offset this demand. I’ll save you the trouble of gathering a year’s worth of bills by telling you that typically your last month’s bill should have a breakdown of your annual usage by month.
- Determine the Orientation of your Home or Building – The optimal place for solar power generation is a south- facing roof, although you will still get decent productionif your roof is southeast or southwest. I think Bing offers the bestmapping technology. Type in your address on Bing’s homepage and then choose” Map of… your Address.” On the top left corner of the map, highlight Aerial and click “Bird’s eye view.” Zoom in for thebest view. Using the compass above, you should be able to determine ifyou have a southward facing roof.
- Look out for Shading and Obstacles on your Roof – If you live in Massachusetts or Connecticut, trees can be huge obstacle to how much electricity your solar systemcan generate. That’s why it’s important you find a space that isunshaded year around or most of the year. Trees aren’t the only objects that cause shade; chimneys and tall vents can also cast shadows on your roof.
- Evaluate the Condition of your Roof – Solar panels can stay on yourroof for more than 30 years. If you roof needs to be replaced, youshould consider coordinating that with the solar installation for maximum weatherproofing protection. Please note: If your roof is in good condition or has been recently replaced, experts say that solar panels can actually protect your roof from sun and weather exposure.
You don’t have to do any of the things I mentioned before the actualmeeting, but it will help to have a more productive conversation withyour solar contractor and be better informed on the process.