Solar panels are hot. They’re popping up on houses large and small around Northern Virginia. When done right, solar panels are a great way to bring your energy costs way down and do your part to help our environment. But before you start looking at panels and installers, let’s take a good look at your roof. Your roof is where your solar panels will be anchored for more than 20 years, so it’s important to know that your roof is up to the task.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Panels?
Solar panels are one way individual homeowners can make a big difference in their personal energy use. The can save tons of money in energy costs, qualify for tax credits and boost home values. However, it’s important to make sure that solar panels are properly installed and that your roof is in good shape to support them.
- Energy cost savings can dramatically reduce your electric bills. Many homes save more than $2000 a year and break even in costs in around 5 years, according to the solar energy marketplace EnergySage.
- Solar panels boost home values by around $15,000 on average, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Solar panels are eligible for federal tax credits: the Solar Investment Tax Credit applies to 30 percent of system costs through 2022 for homeowners who purchase solar panels.
- Solar panels allow individual homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint in a significant way.
How Can I Pay for My Solar Panels?
The price of your solar energy system depends on the number and type of panels you need and the size of your home. There are several ways to finance solar panels:
- Up front purchase.
- Solar loans: these include home equity loans, and new homeowners can include solar panels in loans through government programs like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or Lease: instead of buying the solar panels, a third-party solar company installs and maintains the panels, and the homeowner pays for electricity at a below-market rate. This reduces up-front costs but doesn’t allow homeowners to qualify for tax credits.
What Is the Process for Installing Solar Panels?
The first step is getting a roofing pro to check your roof to make sure that it’s suitable for solar panels. You’ll want to check for missing shingles, leaks and other potential problems. In some cases, an aging roof may need to be replaced before panels are installed. You’ll also want to make sure that your roof is in the right place and position for solar. According to DOE, a roof with a slope of 15 to 40 degrees is ideal for solar panels.
After your roof passes muster, EnergySage offers an outline for moving forward:
- Start with an engineering site visit to make sure your roof is ready and your electrical panel is up to speed.
- Work with your installer to get building permits specific to your location.
- Choose and order panels with your installer.
- On installation day, double check to make sure the roof is ready and that shingles are in good shape. Your contractor will install racks on the roof to hold the panels. Panels are mounted on the racks and connected to an inverter that turns sunlight into usable energy.
- The last step is an inspection by your local government and your energy company to connect your home to the power grid.
How Can I Get My Roof Ready for Solar Panels?
A solid roof means a solid foundation for your solar panels, so it’s always the most important place to start. Getting a reliable contractor to inspect and repair or replace your roof ensures that your solar investment will pay off.
At DryHome, we’ve helped numerous families get ready for solar by:
- Making sure that roofs are structurally sound to support panels
- Repairing any damage or missing shingles
- Replacing aging roofs so that they can support solar panels
And while roof replacement or repair can seem like a big expense on top of the cost of solar panels, it’s always a worthwhile investment. A new roof provides improved insulation to reduce energy costs even more while offering a firm, long-lasting foundation for your solar future.