How to Assess Your Own Site for Solar Potential | Cross River Homes

With  the current federal tax credits and some local utilities offering incentives,  tapping into solar power is more affordable and pays off sooner than it did four  years ago. Before you bring a solar energy expert out to your house, take some  time to check your site yourself. Evaluating your home for solar is simple: Just  follow these four easy steps.

Check  your paperwork. To be eligible for the solar  incentives from the government and/or utility companies, the person who owns the  system (you) must own the property where the solar array will be installed. The  utility account for the property must be in your name as well.

Check  the orientation. Southern-facing roofs are optimal; west-facing is  the next best. Do none of your roofs face the best directions? Fear not. There  are solutions. Many people use pole mounts and racked panels to maximize their  solar production.

Check  your view. Even a little shading can create a big problem. There are  systems designed to deal effectively with some shading but there is a limit.  There are ways to deal with shading challenges. Obvious solutions are mounting  panels to poles or racks. For one Olympia, Wash., family the best place for  their system was in their backyard. So, they built a pergola and used the  photovoltaic panels as shading.

More  dramatic (and often less desirable) solutions to shading would be removing trees  that cause shading. A good solar installer will be able to give you a reasonable  estimate of how effective tree removal would be before you  break out the chainsaw.

Check  your structure. Outside: If solar panels will be installed  on your roof, you need to take a good look at the roof itself. If the roofing is  due to be replaced in the next 10 years, get it replaced before you have solar  installed. To save money, roofers can replace just the area where solar panels  are being installed. The rest of the roof can be replaced down the line.


Your  roof and its supporting structure needs to be in good condition. Solar panels’ additional weight is minimal, but damaged and/or aging roofs require a different  approach. If your roof is sagging, bowing or crumbling, getting your home safe  and solid should be the highest priority.

Inside:  Your home’s wiring needs to be up-to-date. The panels’ electric requirements are  pretty low, but it’s best to make sure your home’s system is able to handle the  additional needs.

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