Top 5 Costly Mistakes Homeowners Make Going Solar
For millions of homeowners across the country, the idea of generating clean electricity and reducing their energy bills has increased the popularity of going solar. And it’s not just sun-drenched states like California, Arizona and Florida that are seeing an increase in solar installations. Homeowners in Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and even here in Wisconsin are hot on solar. Unfortunately, some homeowners are not doing their homework and are making costly mistakes.
1. Miscalculating solar savings
Many homeowners are not calculating potential solar savings correctly resulting in under- or over-estimated potential savings. The good news is that most homeowners going solar will save money, but not all solar vendors calculate the savings the same way. Potential solar savings is based on a variety of factors including your geographic location, electricity rates, usage, and the amount of electricity the system generates. Also, the method used to invest in the system such as cash, home improvement loan or third-party lease will impact solar savings. Homeowners can use the EnergySage online solar calculator by the U.S. Department of Energy to quickly calculate their potential solar PV savings.
2. Not inspecting the roof
Since most solar panels are installed on the roof, not inspecting the roof prior to installation could be a costly mistake. High quality solar PV panels will provide about 20 to 25 years of useful life which is close to the life expectancy of most roofs. That’s why it’s important for homeowners to inspect their roof and make any necessary repairs prior to going solar. Also, older roofs should be replaced to avoid the cost of removing and reinstalling your solar PV panels.
3. Not checking the reputation of solar installers
For the past two years, there were more than 2GW of solar PV installations per quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA). However, the increased popularity of going solar along with lucrative tax credits has also attracted some unscrupulous solar installers scamming unsuspecting homeowners with inferior products, misleading agreements or claiming to be representatives of their local electric utility. Before signing any contracts, homeowners should check the reputation of solar installers to avoid being burned. Websites like Yelp, Google, Glass Door and the Better Business Bureau make it quick and easy to check the reputation of any business.
4. Not installing a battery backup with their solar system
Most solar panel installations are connected to the energy grid via net metering providing homeowners with uninterrupted power from their energy utility on days they consume more energy than the solar panels are able to produce. On days they produce more energy than they consume, the excess energy is sold to the utility and credited on the homeowner’s utility bill. Installing a battery backup system allows homeowners to store some of the excess energy that their solar panels produce which can come in handy in the event of an electrical power outage on the grid.
5. Waiting too long for the cost of solar to go lower
With the average cost of going solar at approximately $16,800, which is 9 percent less than it was in 2016, now couldn’t be a better time to go solar. In addition, a Federal energy tax credit provides a 30% reduction in the total cost of the system. But these tax credits will begin to reduce in 2019 until they expire in 2022. Also, many industry analysts speculate the increase in demand will cause a supply shortage resulting in an increase in solar PV costs. Homeowners that wait too long to go solar will miss out on valuable tax credits, pay higher installation costs and will realize lower energy savings.