Solar is becoming a growing trend in California, with more and more houses getting panels on their roofs. With rising energy prices, renewable energy is an enticing option, but there is more to solar than putting a panel on your roof and calling it a day. Here are three important things to think about before deciding to go solar:

1. Roof orientation (Azimuth and Tilt):

If your panel is going to catch sunlight, it needs to be facing the right way. This is called your roof’s azimuth. Many solar panels can catch both direct and indirect sunlight, but direct sunlight will get you the most from your panel. In the northern hemisphere, the optimal solar roof faces South so it gets light at all times in the day. Having a roof that faces another direction can still give you savings, but will not be as efficient.

Along with direction, the tilt (or slope) of your roof also makes a difference in solar panel efficiency. You can measure the tilt of your roof with a level app on your phone and use a solar energy calculator like PVWatts to see how the tilt of your roof affects your energy output.

2. Roof Condition/Shading:

Not only does your roof has to face the right direction, but it also has to be in good condition to hold solar panels. Roofs made of composite or asphalt shingle, concrete tile, or standing seam metal are perfect candidates for solar.

The strength of the roofing material guarantees the panel will not damage your house. Roofs made of softer materials like wood or mortar can still hold panels but need a little more expertise to mount the panels—something to keep in mind when choosing your solar panel provider.

If your roof is old and in bad condition, consider re-roofing. Since solar will save you money on energy, you can afford to re-roof and still see positive savings from your solar investment. Any other roofing projects should be complete before going solar to avoid any damage to your roof or solar panels.

Also, check your roof for shade spots. Shaded panels will produce less energy than those in direct sunlight. Check your roof during all times of the day, keeping note of nearby trees that could cast shade on your roof. Your panels will be working all day to convert energy, and shade during one part of the day will decrease efficiency, even if your roof is sunny during all other times.

3. Electric Bill

As part of deciding if solar is right for you, you should check your current electric bills. Energy is typically measured in kWh/Year, or kilowatt-hours per year. Check your predicted solar panel output against a year’s worth of electric bills. This part is easy: if your bill is larger than your panel output, then your panel will not pay for all of your energy use.

Considering the costs of panels and the work to mount them, you may not want to have your house go completely solar. Even if your solar panel only pays part of your bill, it can still be a worthwhile investment.

Typically, solar panels are a good choice for people paying over $75 monthly for electricity. However, with so many factors going into panel efficiency, your house may still generate savings with solar, even if your bill is lower.

Bottom Line

Calculating solar panel efficiency can be a pain. If you want a second opinion, get a solar consultation. An expert will come to inspect your house and can tell you how efficient your panels can be. Going solar is expensive no matter how you do it, and you don’t want to make your decision without doing your research first.

At ACR Solar, we pride ourselves on serving you with the best values in the industry. Installing more than electric panels, we also install solar water heating and pool heating systems that are designed to be state of the art light weight and attractive. With 41 years of experience, you can trust ACR Solar to give you maximum savings in your investment. To learn more about how we can help you in your solar decision, check our website and set up a consultation.

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