How to Choose Solar Panels for Your Home

If you’re thinking about solar power on your home, you probably know that it comes at a significant upfrontinvestment. That is why it is important to consider a variety of factors before making a decision on which solar panels are most appropriate for your project.  Our customers can’t be experts on the subject.  As a solar installer, we typically take the lead on this matter on behalf of our customersafter having a discussion on which factors are most important to them. 

Below are some things to consider when deciding which solar panels are best for your home:

  1. Aesthetics – The technology behind solar panels has improved dramatically in the last decade, but the appearance ofsolar panels has gotten exponentially better as well.  Manymanufacturers now build panels that blend into your roofing material. If your roof is exposed to the street, you probably want to choose themost inconspicuous panels.  To achieve the most subtle appearance, youwant panels that are lower in profile and have an “all black” color. 
  2. Efficiency – The majority of the homes we evaluate for a solar electric system usually have some limitation in available roof space.  That’swhy it’s really important to look at a solar panel’s efficiency.   Thehigher the panel’s efficiency, the more the panel will produce persquare foot which means less roof area is needed to generate the sameamount of power.
  3. Warranty – Nearly all solar manufacturers have apower output warranty of 20 or 25 years.  Although manufacturers tend to offer similar warranties, you may want to compare the differentpolicies to make sure you have the least risk.
  4. Manufacturer / Brand – There are probably more than a 100 solar panel manufacturers all over the world.  As a solar contractor, I like sticking with companies that have reputable names and a longhistory of manufacturing.  Companies with a vertical integrationstrategy tend to have the best prices.  A lot of homeowners choose to go solar to increase the strength of our country and  move away from ourdependence on foreign fossil fuels.  Therefore, they may want to onlylook at products manufactured or assembled in the United States.  I also like to look at the financial stability of the manufacturer.  If thecompany’s stock is extremely devalued, it could be an acquisition target and that would add uncertainty to the product line’s future.  Thiscould cause problems for product replacement or even exercising thewarranty at a later date. 
  5. Price per Watt – Cost is a major issue for amajority of my customers.  They want to achieve the quickest rate ofreturn on their investment.    Although most manufacturers build adecent solar panel, the cheapest panel is always the best choice.  Solar power is aninvestment you’re making over 30+ years.  It is important that thepanels are manufactured with quality in mind and can withstand exposureto the elements over the long term. 
  6. State Rebate Eligibility Requirements – Before youdecide on a solar panel that best fits your needs, make sure it passesthe eligibility requirements needed to receive your state or localincentives.  In Massachusetts and Connecticut, panels must be new and listed on California Energy Commission’s list of eligible equipment. 

This is a lot of information for a homeowner to digest so it is usually best to work with your solar contractor on this decision.  If you would like some advice, Brightstar Solar would be happy to determine if you have good site for solar power in Massachusetts or Connecticut and evaluate which panels would be most appropriate for your project.

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