Tips for Buying a Solar Panel System

July 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

The decision to install a home solar photovoltaic (PV) system carries with it a number of benefits as well as a number of potential pitfalls. Homeowners oftentimes end up spending more money than they need to on both PV systems and installation costs. That’s why it is crucial for those interested in installing a new PV system to plan carefully beforehand. This ensures the homeowner will make the correct decisions regarding not only the size and type of PV system, but the proper installation procedure as well. In the end, this can save the homeowner thousands of dollars.

With that in mind, here are some tips to maximizing PV system cost savings:

Assess the Home –

Many PV providers will provide a comprehensive assessment to determine if a particular home is suitable for a system installation. However, the homeowner can also make an initial assessment on his or her own. Solar panels function best when they have a clear and unobstructed view of the sky, so typically the best location for a PV system is on a south-facing flat roof with no obstructions. Having these conditions means reduced installation costs and maximum panel efficiency. That being said, PV systems can be installed on a number of different types of roofs or even on the ground.

Turn a Standard Home into an Energy-Efficient Home –

Solar panels work best when they are used in conjunction with a home that has reduced energy costs. To ensure maximum energy savings it is best to convert the home into something more energy efficient before the PV system installation. This means adding insulation as well as power-saving lighting, such as LED and CFL bulbs. Not only that, but an energy-efficient home requires fewer solar panels, which can save the homeowner thousands of dollars on purchase and installation.

Check for Cost Savings –

Many states offer tax incentives and rebates for those homeowners that install photovoltaic systems. Certain utility companies even offer net metering, which is the process of recycling excess panel power back into the utility grid. This means when the home reaches its solar capacity the power meter then runs backward. And it is when solar energy is distributed back into the system that homeowners see their greatest energy cost reductions.

Lease or Purchase –

The cost of a full home photovoltaic system installation can cost upwards of 25,000 dollars. For many homeowners, this cost structure is prohibitively expensive. But purchasing solar panels is not the only option. One alternative is to hire a licensed contractor who offers lease financing. The contractor installs the PV system but retains ownership and assumes maintenance responsibilities. This allows the homeowner to reap the cost savings of a PV system without the hassle of system upkeep. The cost of this option is also very attractive, as homeowners can often secure solar panel lease financing for no money down.

Choose the Appropriate Size of the PV System –

The specific size of the PV system depends on what percentage of the electricity needs the homeowner would like that system to meet. For instance, if the homeowner would like 50 percent of their energy needs to be met by their PV system, then they can calculate the size based on past energy usage. The utility company can provide the homeowner with their total electricity usage measured in kilowatt-hours, which can then be used by the PV provider to calculate the size of the system.

By following these simple guidelines, homeowners can ensure they not only save on energy costs with their PV system, but that they save money on the installation of the system as well.  And once installed, the solar panels can be expected to last up to 30 years without incident.

George Zeed lives in Grants Pass, Oregon and works for Impact Battery.  He is an avid outdoorsman and environmentalist, who enjoys writing about topics related to all kinds of recreational vehicles and accessories. He is also the “go to guy” for information when shopping motorcycle batteries and chargers that can be found at

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