Should I Get Solar Panels for my Home?
Here, in The Sunshine State, solar is an option that all homeowners should consider when building a new home. The cost has come down, their efficiency has gone up, and tax credits are being offered all the time. But are they right for your home? Ask yourself these questions before you make a decision:
1. Which direction does your roof slant?
South-facing roofs are the most productive for solar, followed by west-facing and then east-facing roofs. North-facing roofs are the least desirable for solar, and many people rule them out.
2. Is your roof heavily shaded?
Ideally, the sun will hit your panels for at least five hours a day. If trees, or other homes block the sun from reaching your roof, that’s a problem.
3. What size roof do you need?
You need about 100 square feet of area per kilowatt of solar system. An average residential solar system is five kilowatts — 20 panels — in size. So, for that, you’d need roughly 500 square feet of space.
What’s the angle of your roof?
The ideal angle for solar panels is 30 degrees, but they can be installed on roofs ranging from zero to 45 degrees. Solar panels for flat roofs are installed on tilted racks.
5. What type of roofing do you have?
It’s easiest to install solar panels on asphalt shingles or corrugated metal roofs. Putting them on slate or tile roofs is more complex and costlier.
6. What size system do you need?
You can run the numbers yourself using the Energy Department’s impartial PVWatts Calculator. The typical five-kilowatt system generates an average of 7,000 kilowatt hours per year.
7. How expensive is your electricity?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides a map of electric rates, so you can see how your state compares. Confirm by looking at the rate per kilowatt hour on your bill.
Here’s the bottom line: If you have the right kind of roof, your local electric rates are high, and your state provides a lot of incentives, it’s time to take a serious look at solar.