The first step towards harnessing the power of the sun begins with deciding to install solar panels on your home. With federal and local incentives along with rapidly declining solar technology costs, the experts at Vivint Solar say that now is a great time to explore how much money solar panels can save on ever-rising electric bills.
Quality solar installers will first thoroughly evaluate your home’s site conditions to determine suitable areas for solar panel placement. Optimal solar locations have direct southern sun exposure without shading from trees or other obstructions, reinforced rooftops, or strong grounds able to bear the additional weighted load, and access to integrate with your home’s electric system. The site evaluation maps out the best areas for positioning solar arrays to maximize electricity production.
Once the site evaluation is complete, the next step is designing the solar panel system specifics. Based on factors like available installation space, typical local weather patterns, electricity demand, and budget, your installer will tailor the system’s size and equipment. Major considerations include the efficiency rating, number, and types of solar panels along with the models and capacities of inverters and wiring.
Permitting & Inspections
With a system design in place, solar installers will acquire the necessary permits and applications from local utilities and jurisdictions before proceeding. Both city and county permits are typically needed, along with approval of system interconnection with the electric grid. Finalized system designs and site plans must pass all inspections from building, electrical, structural, and fire authorities. Securing permits can take 1-3 months.
Once permitting clears, installation can begin. For residential rooftop solar panel systems, mounting hardware gets secured to roof rafters or ground mounts. Wiring connects the solar array to safety shut off switches, inverters to convert DC to AC, and your home’s electric panel. Racking angles are calibrated to ideal positions. Finally, solar panels get securely attached and tested. Supply chain issues can sometimes delay specific equipment. Installation of standard home systems may take 2-5 days.
Inspection & Interconnection
Before the utility permits solar interconnection to the grid, authorities conduct a final inspection checking adherence to all codes and ordinances. All components must function properly to pass. Once approved, your meter gets swapped for a bidirectional net meter to track both electricity drawn from and sent back to the grid.
Financial Incentives & Payback Period
Between federal, state, and utility incentives, over 50% of total solar system costs may be offset through tax rebates, sustainability credits, performance payments, and discounted installation. These incentives combined with your newfound energy bill savings add up to reach an estimated “payback period”. This is the solar industry metric for when cumulative savings surpass your initial investment. Depending on incentives and energy rates, payback forecasts typically fall between 5-12 years.
20 Years Savings & Beyond
Over two decades, most residential solar panels are still producing abundant emissions-free energy with minimal degradation. This solar-derived energy independence shields homeowners from volatile fossil fuel-based utility rates that will likely keep rising over the long term.
Ongoing Production & Maintenance
Once turned on, solar panels seamlessly produce free renewable energy for decades largely on autopilot. However, best practice includes periodically checking connections, wiring, inverter performance, panel appearance, and clearing any debris like leaves.
Installing a rooftop solar panel system on your home marks just the beginning of a 20+ year journey harnessing free and abundant renewable energy from the sun. While the permitting requirements and installation costs an upfront investment, the cumulative financial and environmental savings are substantial. Track your new energy bill savings going forward and celebrate your home powered in part by the sun.