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Solar Panels for Your Home: Most Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

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A healthy sign is that you have many concerns about installing a solar power system at your house. It's a major project that needs careful financial preparation over both the short and long term.

Those thinking about installing solar panels on their homes often wonder: What exactly are my requirements right now? In what ways can I best meet my long-term requirements? Is it worthwhile to install a solar energy system, and is it within my financial means to do so?

In a similar vein to the financial outlay, the bulk of the time and effort required is up front. Once the panels have been installed on your roof, they need little maintenance and should cause you few problems. Here, we'll explain everything in detail and address any pressing concerns you may have.

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Before the Installation

The discussion over whether or not to install solar panels is just one part of the decision-making process. These are some things to think about in addition:

How do I figure out how much energy I'll need?

Your typical yearly power use should be covered by the electricity generated by your rooftop solar system. You may get that sum by looking at your utility bills from the last year (or longer). Average annual electricity use in the United States is around 11,000 kWh, or 30 kWh per day.

What Are Kilowatts and Kilowatt-Hours?

The capacity of a solar array is often expressed as a number of kilowatts (kW) (or 1,000 watts). The amount of energy used in one hour is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

How many solar panels will I need?

It's not hard to figure out how many solar panels you'll need, but the precise number may vary depending on factors like how much energy your panels generate, how effective they are, and how much sunlight reaches your roof.

For instance, if you need 30 kilowatt-hours per day and your roof receives 5 kilowatt-hours of sunlight per day, you will require a 6 kilowatt-hour system (30 + 5 = 6). Panels with a 300-watt output will need 20 panels to generate 6 kW (300 x 20 = 6,000).

What if my roof doesn't get enough sun?

Unfortunately, not every home in the United States receives enough sunlight to benefit from rooftop solar panels. A solar easement may be negotiated with a neighbor whose land casts a shadow on your roof. But if you can't, you may still get cheap solar power for your house by becoming a member of a community solar farm.

What if my roof faces east-west rather than north-south?

Solar panels will collect the most sunlight if your roof faces south (in the Northern Hemisphere), but that doesn't mean you can't install them on any roof. Depending on your location, there may even be benefits to having your roof face east-west. Most standard roofs can't support the weight of solar trackers, which are used to adjust the panels' position during the day.

Does it matter that it snows a lot where I live?

Although snow cover is a major worry, your panels should be okay unless your roof is covered with wet, heavy snow or ice. They are resilient enough to keep churning out power even when the going gets tough, and they clean up fast thanks to the panels' slope and heat. The reflective properties of snow may further increase your panels' energy harvest.

Costs and Payments

The expense of switching to solar power is often the first concern consumers have. There are other inquiries about costs that come after that.

How do I estimate the cost of solar panels?

A solar energy system may be installed at roughly $2.77 per watt on average. If you calculate that you require 6 kW, the total cost of your setup will be $16,620.

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What government incentives are there to lower the cost of solar panels?

Solar panel installations qualify for tax credits and other financial bonuses from the federal government. The amount provided may be adjusted, ideally upwards, depending on federal law, so keep a watch on it. The federal government offers tax credits and refunds, and many individual states do as well.

How does solar leasing work?

Comparing leasing solar panels to leasing an automobile: Although you do not own the panels, you do have access to them for the duration of your lease, which is typically 20 years. It's possible that you'll be able to purchase the panels after your lease expires.

Lessees may enjoy lower monthly power bills without bearing the upfront expense of establishing the system, thanks to the leasing model. The lack of ownership and tax breaks means the panels will never cover their costs.

How do I pay for solar panels?

Similar to other significant purchases, paying cash will save you money on interest. Loans for solar energy systems are also available and often have cheaper interest rates than those offered by traditional lending institutions. Your installer may already have connections with local green banks or other sources of funding, as is the case in certain areas.

How will solar panels affect my electricity bill?

Almost every state in the United States has a scheme called "net metering" that allows solar users to get a credit on their power bills for the excess electricity they feed back into the grid. When you generate more energy than you use (often in the spring and autumn), your account will be credited with the difference, and you may use that money to offset your higher power bills in the summer and winter.

Is adding a battery backup worth it?

It all comes down to your definition of "worth it." Solar panels coupled with a battery storage system are currently too expensive to be practical. However, the increased expense may be justified if reliable access to energy in the event of natural catastrophes or other power disruptions is of paramount importance.

How long is the payback period?

In the United States, the price of power from the grid is around $0.14 per kilowatt-hour. Solar energy typically costs between $0.08 and $0.10 per kilowatt-hour. The length of time it takes to recoup the initial investment in a solar energy system is affected by several variables, including the local cost of power, the size of the system you purchase, whether or not you finance the purchase, and your electricity use patterns. The typical return on investment for this system is between seven and twelve years.

The Installation Process

After making the decision to purchase solar panels, a new set of concerns arises about setup.

What needs to happen between signing a contract and the installation?

The installer will create a comprehensive plan and specification sheet for you. In order to comply with local building laws, electrical codes, fire codes, and maybe solar PV-specific standards, you will need to apply for and get the appropriate permits from your municipality. If you reside in a historic area or are a member of a homeowners' organization, you may need to apply for and get additional permissions. Rooftop solar installations usually need inspections to guarantee that the wiring and roof are up to code and can safely sustain the system. Before enabling the grid connection, your utility provider will also conduct an inspection.

What actually gets installed?

Panels, a rack to hold them, roof sealant, an inverter to change the DC electricity the panels generate into the AC electricity your home uses, wires to carry the electricity into your home, junction boxes to hold the wiring, an emergency shutoff panel, and other mechanical hardware make up a rooftop solar system.

How long does it take to install solar panels?

The installation process itself might take anywhere from one to three days to complete. The inspections, permits, and interconnections take the most time. After signing a contract, you may not have solar electricity going into your home for up to three months.

Can I install my own solar panels?

There are dangers involved in installing large solar panels on a sloped roof and wiring them into your home's electrical grid. However, if there are enough individuals involved, the installation may be completed in a single weekend by a team of two or three people. It's possible that the wiring has to be connected by a professional electrician.

There are ways to save thousands of dollars by doing it yourself, but a professional installer will be better knowledgeable with the inspection, permitting, and connecting processes.

After the installation

The setup is now finished. What should be done next?

How long will my panels last?

Solar panels often come with a 25-year warranty. At a rate of around 0.5% every year, the efficiency of solar panels is high enough that a 20-year-old solar system may still produce 90% of its initial output. Your power demands after 20 years may be more or less than they were when you installed the panels.

What if I plan on buying an electric car in the future?

An electric vehicle may cost a fraction of the cost of a gas-powered vehicle. When the weather is good, driving costs less. Installing a bigger solar system than you need is probably not something your utility provider would approve of unless you don't connect all of your panels to the grid immediately. Check with your installer to see what choices you have.

What if the power goes out?

Unless you have an off-grid system, your home's solar panels are likely connected to the local power grid and will be rendered ineffective if the electricity goes out in your area. If utility employees are going to be performing repairs to electrical lines, your solar system must not be transmitting energy into the grid. However, if you have a battery backup system, the automated cutoff may work to keep your system disconnected from the grid and the lights on.

How much solar panel maintenance will I need to do?

Because solar panels don't have any moving parts, they need little upkeep. Your electrician should do yearly inspections of the electrical system. If you happen to reside in a region that receives a fair amount of precipitation, whether in the form of rain or snow, then you already have access to a free and effective cleaning solution. It's not necessary, but cleaning your panels won't damage their performance either.

What if I need to replace my roof?

Protecting your roof with solar panels may extend their useful lives. Because it's neither trivial nor inexpensive to replace a roof after solar panels have been installed, it's excellent news to know that you shouldn't put off roof repairs in favor of installing solar panels. You'll also want to ask your solar installer whether or not your roof is suitable for solar panels. Community solar systems might be an option if this is not the case.

What if I want to sell my home?

The addition of a solar panel system to a home's roof may increase its marketability. Zillow discovered that, on average, properties equipped with solar panels fetched a 4.1% premium over their non-solar counterparts. At the national average of around $350,000, it amounts to about $14,350, which is virtually the entire initial cost of a solar system.

solar pannels for your home


Solar energy is a clean kind of energy that does not contribute to the emission of any pollutants and is a renewable resource. An accurate, thorough, and long-term understanding of the potential, including seasonal fluctuations, is necessary for the development of this source of energy.


Which of the three most common kinds of solar panels has the highest efficiency?

Crystalline solar panels offer the greatest efficiency rate of any other panel type. Efficiencies of over 20% are achieved using monocrystalline panels. The passivation layer on PERC panels allows for a gain of 5 percent in efficiency. The efficiency range of polycrystalline panels is about 17 percent.

If you install solar panels, how long do you expect them to last?

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are built to last longer than 25 years. Quite a few solar panels that were installed in the 1980s are still producing as predicted today. Over the last 20 years, not only have solar panels proven to be quite reliable, but their lifespan has also expanded significantly.

Do solar panels increase the risk of roof leaks?

The majority of the time, the reply is negative. Solar panels drastically reduce the likelihood of a roof leaking. When roof leaks happen after solar panels are put on, though, it's usually very clear right after the panels are put on. 

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