Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 3/9/2018

Solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. Each year, hundreds of thousands of homes go solar, adding thousands of new jobs and preventing massive amounts of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

It has never been a better time to go solar. However, the rapid technological advancements and the growing market of solar power companies means that you have several options to consider if youíre thinking about going green.

Types of residential solar power

The first thing to understand about solar power is that there are several different types you can get for your home. From roof-installed solar panels to off-site solar farms, you have options when it comes to powering your house cheaply and efficiently.

Leasing and purchasing PV panels

One of the most common ways that people power their home with solar power is by leasing rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels from a solar company. There are different leasing options available from different companies, so itís a good idea to shop around the solar providers in your area.

Leasing is a great option for those who donít have the funds to purchase panels but still want to lower their monthly electricity bill. Companies who offer leasing often install and maintain the panels for free. The panels will be hooked up to your local energy grid. Each month, your electricity bill will be reduced by the amount that is produced by your panels. The way the solar company earns is by selling a portion of the solar produced back to the energy company and by collecting incentives from state and federal governments.  

Purchasing your panels outright has its advantages. When you purchase your own panels you can more greatly reduce or even eliminate your monthly utility bills without giving a cut back to the solar company. However, this also means youíre responsible for the care and maintenance, and insurance of the panels.

Off-site solar

Many people would love to reduce their electricity bill and help reduce carbon emissions, but they just canít stand the look of solar panels on their roof. Fortunately, off-site solar farms are also growing in popularity. This type of solar power comes with all of the same benefits of rooftop solar except that it isnít located on your house.

Typically a vacant spot of land is used as a solar ďfarm.Ē Community members can opt to lease or own a portion of the farm to contribute towards powering their home.

This option is particularly beneficial to those who lack roof-space, or who have a roof that doesnít receive an optimal amount of sunlight.

Emerging technologies

As I mentioned earlier, solar power is an industry that is rapidly changing. If youíre not ready just yet to install solar panels or join a shared solar community, itís still a good idea to look ahead at emerging technologies.

One such example is Teslaís new solar roofs. The idea is that instead of installing panels, the roof itself comes with panels built-in. Whatís more, the roofs are said to last longer than traditional roofs, and theyíll come in a variety of styles which mimic traditional shingles and comes in Tuscan, textured glass, and slate options.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 5/19/2017

Thanks to federal tax incentives and a growing concern for the environment, many Americans are installing rooftop solar panels to cover or offset the cost of their utilities. In the last ten years the solar industry has grown by an unprecedented 1,600 percent and it shows not signs of slowing. As solar becomes more affordable, however, debates have opened up around the use of solar power and its effect on older ways of producing electricity (like coal-fired and nuclear power plants). Solar power is a complicated process that is part of an even more complicated industry. If you're thinking about making the switch, consider this your crash course in rooftop solar power.

I'm interested in solar. Where do I start?

Before you call a local solar provider and start getting sales pitches it's useful to know some background information on solar in your area. Do some research on your home state to see if your local government has incentivized solar in any way. Some states have provided funding to banks to offer loans for home solar systems. You should also consider some details about your home, your current energy provider, and the amount of time you're going to spend in your home. If you plan on moving anytime soon, leased panels may not be something you want to put up on the roof. Some buyers will happily take over the lease; others won't be so sure or may see it as a headache. You'll also want to learn about net metering from your current electricity provider. The electricity market is now in flux due to the increase of solar. As solar makes electricity more accessible, it could make electricity costs go up from your local utilities company. Net metering is the way that power companies measure how much electricity your panels put into the grid during the daytime which will be discounted from your monthly utility bill. Finally, you'll want to consider how beneficial the panels would be to your bill. If your home doesn't receive a lot of sun or have enough viable roof space, solar panels might not be worth it. If you can buy the panels flat out, however, they'll likely save you a lot of money in the long run.

Buying, leasing, and financing your panels

Buying, leasing, and financing all have their advantages and disadvantages which you'll want to weigh before committing to one option. For example, even if you have the funds to buy outright you might prefer the leasing option for the maintenance and repairs guarantee. Maybe you want to buy or finance to take advantage of local and federal tax incentives. Another thing to consider is the changing technology itself. As solar power improves, so does the technology that makes it possible. If you're thinking of moving within the next few years it might be in your best interest to wait for the next generation of panels for your new home instead of buying panels that will be outdated in the home you're in.

Making the calls

Once you've decided you want to go ahead with solar panels on your home you have another round of research to do. Compare providers in your area. Get quotes and setup options to find one that you're happy with. Get a sample contract and read all of the fine print. Finally, check out the customer reviews to make sure you'll be happy with this provider--especially if you're leasing and will be dealing with them for the next 15-20 years.