You’ve heard about your neighbors installing solar, but you aren’t sure whether you should look into it too. How do you know whether or not your home (or business) is a good candidate for solar?
1. Who is your utility?
Not all electric companies have policies that make it a smart option to switch to solar. If it is a large investor-owned utility (Duke and SCE&G, for example), the state mandates that it must allow a certain percentage of their customer base to allow rooftop solar under a 1-1 Net Energy Metering (NEM) policy. In short, if you have a large utility, you can install solar without a battery and get all the advantages of solar.
Be careful of your timing!
Currently in South Carolina, the 2% NEM availability will be expiring for both SCEG and Duke this year! That means that the rule that allows a rooftop solar to get the maximum financial benefit from installing solar might fill up and leave you stranded if you try to wait a year.
2. Does the roof get enough sun?
Clearly, solar panels need to be installed where the sun shines. If you have beautiful old oak trees shading your home, then solar will not work for you. How do you know how much sun you need? It’s actually quite simple: the sun needs to hit the roof between 10am and 3pm. If you have some shadows, you need to ask for microinverters or optimizers.
Tracking the sun on your own roof over the course of the year is not the easiest thing to do. If you are looking for an exact percentage of power loss due to shading, let us know. We will give you a shading analysis using sophisticated google reflection data.
3. What is the condition of your roof?
Solar panels will last at least 25 years. They are warrantied for at least that long. So what happens if your roof only has 5 years left on its life? If you need a roof replacement, you would have to hire a company to removed the solar equipment while the roofing takes place, then re-install. This can be a few thousand dollars in labor.
If you know you need a roof soon, many homeowners choose to tackle solar and the roof at the same time. There might be a way to get the federal tax credit for the roof as well: inquire how.
4. How will you afford to make the switch?
The biggest difference between solar now and five years ago is the affordability. This stems from a drop in the cost of materials, increase in incentives, and financing models that work.
Solar panels have dropped in price each year (except for 2018) for the last thirty years. Lately, the prices have gone up or held steady (thanks to the recent tariffs). Currently, while technology gets better, the newest and greatest panels are quite expensive. You might look into “last years models” for the best value.
Incentives across the country vary with each month. Currently in South Carolina, there is a 25% state tax incentive which drops the cost by over half when combined with the federal tax incentive. If your business purchases solar, there might be even more savings in the form of depreciation.
The “solar loan” is the most recent and innovative financing model that brings renewable energy to your home. This unsecured, low interest rate loan can span for 20 years, making the monthly payment cheaper than your utility bill. Yes, you read that correctly, solar is less expensive than the utility. With no money down, you can have solar installed and save money from day one.
Are you a good candidate?
If you have a solar friendly utility, get lots of sun on a newer roof and have good credit to qualify for no-cost-upfront solar, it is worth having an expert evaluate this further. Typically within about 30 minutes, you can see the system options and financial breakdowns to make a decision. In the end, you can save money, gain independence from the utility and help the planet if your property is a good candidate.