- Do you need a full solar photovoltaic system?
You’ve decided you want solar panels to generate electricity, but make sure you think of your needs and limitations of solar PV systems. There are the obvious costs, but also house value and how much you’re really saving your wallet and the environment.
- How much will it cost?
The aim is to get as efficient a system as possible up and running. Do the research on market prices, then approach several contractors to get a competitive bid. The solar PV system installation industry is increasingly competitive, so take advantage of that.
- How much solar energy do you need?
At what point will your financial returns become marginal? Analyze your monthly energy expenditure and adjust for any future plans that might affect it. Next, decide how much of your energy bill you want to be covered by solar. A contractor can help with this part.
- How much solar energy will your new equipment produce?
The amount of energy produced will not be constant throughout the year due to weather. Local climates will dictate maximum and minimum amounts of sun you can expect, as well as the optimal positioning of your panels. There are computer programs that can assist in calculating this.
- Partially offset or totally replace?
If you want your energy bill to be only partly offset by solar energy, then your PV system will be smaller than if you want it to make you free from the grid. If you want to do this, you might want to consider selling excess energy.
- How much money will you save?
This might not be as straightforward as you might expect because of the complexity of energy rate schedules. Although contractors might quote you a computer-assisted forecast, don’t forget that it’s in their interest to make the investment look as attractive as possible.
- Did you check your rate structure?
By better understanding the different rate structures you’ll be able to more accurately predict how much you’ll be saving. Furthermore, you might want to investigate whether you can change your billing schedule to deal with the varying levels of energy production you’ll produce monthly.
- Will you be able to sell excess energy?
Hook into the local power grid and sell any electricity that your PV system generates. For this, you’ll need an intertie system. When your system generates excess energy that the house doesn’t use, the energy meter rolls backward because power is being pumped directly into the utility grid.
- How will you get paid for excess energy?
Selling that excess energy to the grid is called net metering. There is a number of different, potentially confusing laws and regulations controlling net metering so make sure you familiarize yourself with the process to understand how you will get paid.
- Just be aware: utility companies and intertie systems
There are technical and financial dangers involved with having an independent power generator attached to the grid. An intertie system pumping energy down a potentially damaged line can cause damage to not only the grid but also workers trying to fix it.