Solar Panels and Your Home: A Guide to Energy Independence

Once the thing of dreams and science fiction, sustainable energy is now a reality and it’s becoming more and more affordable for homeowners to go “off the grid” using in-home energy-producing systems that harvest and convert power directly from the sun. In a world with never-ending global conflicts that can dramatically impact fuel costs and availability, becoming energy independent is not only smart, it’s necessary.

If you’ve been thinking about adding solar panels to your home so you can reduce your dependence on the big utility companies, then here’s everything you need to know about solar panels and your home from Trusst’s Brunswick County homebuilders.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels are only one part of a solar energy system, but they are essential because they contain photovoltaic (PV) cells which work as “energy harvesters.” The PV cells absorb energy from the sun much like how a battery becomes charged. The collected energy is then sent to an inverter, which is located inside the home. The inverter converts the energy into useable electricity for powering the home.

How Much Can I Save By Going Solar?

Home much you can save depends on a lot of different factors, including the number of panels you have, the amount of sunlight your panels receive, and more. Some homes have systems that generate so much electricity that they are actually able to sell it back to the utility companies at a profit. But, the current utility bill savings for a home with a solar system is about $84 a month.

Who Installs Solar Panels?

There are several DIY kits on the market, but for the best results and lowest risk, it pays to hire a professional installer or have your system installed while your new home is being built. There is a lot of complex wiring that needs to be installed and panel placement is crucial to the efficiency of a system, so unless you’re very well versed in such topics, then you will be best to choose a pro.

When considering installers, look for one who is licensed and bonded and offers the following:

  • Does not outsource the installation
  • Can supply at least two recent customer references
  • Offers a strong warranty (inverter should be covered for at least 15 years and the panels at least 20 to 25 years)
  • Uses American-made solar panels (this will ensure your warranty will still be honored in the event the manufacturer goes out of business)

How Much Do Solar Panel Systems Cost?

Like most technology, the prices for solar systems have decreased quite dramatically since 2011. Today, if you take advantage of the variety of federal and local tax credits and subsidies, you can expect the average up-front cost for a solar system to be around $17,000.

What are the Tax Incentives for Installing Solar Panels?

If you want to take advantage of federal tax incentives, then you need to hurry as the federal solar investment tax credit is set to expire at the end of 2016. This program offers a 30 percent tax credit for residential and commercial properties that convert to solar energy. Local and state incentives vary, so do your due diligence and take a look at all of the available incentives and programs to find out what you’re eligible for.

Is a Permit Required?

Yes. A solar system is a major change to your home, so you will need a permit to install. In most cases, the installer will obtain any permits your project might require, but the amount to cover the cost of the permits will be included in your final installation price.

How Many Panels Will I Need?

The number of panels your project will need is also affected by a variety of factors, including your home’s energy needs, insolation (the amount of solar radiation that reaches the ground during a given period of time, and space available. Your installer will be able to give you a better idea of your panel needs when your home is inspected.

To get an idea of how big of a system your home will need, just take out your last energy bill and multiply your average daily kilowatt use by 0.25.

Contact Trusst’s Brunswick County Homebuilders Today!

The best way to get the right solar panel system for your home is to have it installed while the home is being built. This will minimize the risk of roof damage and your system will be designed exclusively for your home’s size and energy needs. If you want to enjoy all the benefits of owning a custom-built off-the-grid home, call Trusst Builder Group today at 910-371-0304 to schedule a consultation with one of our architects. We’ll help you build a home that reflects your eco-friendly lifestyle.