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Last edited 19 Sep 2019
5 Important Factors to Consider Before Installing Solar Panels
Electricity is an essential power source for your home, and it seems to increase in cost every year. Many homeowners have turned to alternative power sources, and the most effective and efficient is solar power.
Modern solar panels are highly efficient, much more so than those of just a couple of decades ago, and the idea of getting your electricity from the sun is very attractive. However, there are certain factors you need to think about before you go ahead and purchase your solar panel installation. Let’s have look at some of the most important factors that you need to think about.
Let’s start with one factor that really is a ‘yes or no’ question: is your house in a suitable location for solar power? The fact remains that some buildings will not benefit from solar panels, as they are not located in the right area or position. Furthermore, if you are in a built-up area, surrounding tall buildings, trees and other obstructions may make the solar panels inefficient.
The first thing to do is ask a solar power installation provider to assess your home and its location for suitability for solar power. Do this first, or you may find you spend a great deal of time only to be told your home will not benefit.
One factor the assessor will look at is the problem of shading. The sun shines on different parts of the house at different times. Ideally, your solar panels need to be positioned to get the most exposure to sunlight at the right times. Therefore, you need to place your solar panels where they will make the most use of the sun. They will also consider smaller trees that will grow in time, something that people often overlook when they go down the solar route.
 2. Energy Usage
Assuming your home is suitable for a solar panel installation – and many homes are already benefitting from this cost-effective method of generating electricity for heat, light and other uses – the next important factor is to work out your required energy usage. Naturally, different homes use different amounts of electricity, and it can depend upon a number of factors.
The size of your house – the number of rooms within it – will influence the electricity usage, as will the number of people who live in it. Also, you may use your electricity for heating, or you may use gas, and the number of appliances you run will have an impact.
When you get your solar panel installation provider to come to your house, make sure you have a years electricity bills ready for them to look at, as that will show the average usage for your household. Always ensure that you have a system installed that can handle any likely increase in usage – say the addition of extra rooms or family – so that you have some leeway for the future.
Before you commence with purchasing solar panels, you need to have your roof professionally inspected. Solar panels are, in general, roof-mounted and they will add extra weight. Depending upon the number of panels you need to generate your necessary electricity, this weight may be quite considerable.
More modern homes – those built in the latter part of the 20th century and beyond – will most likely have a stronger roof support than those from before. Older houses will definitely need to be examined for the purpose. It’s not just the construction of the roof that needs to be assessed, but also the condition.
Roofs can be subject to rot, damage and also infestation; woodworm is not uncommon – especially in older roof constructions – and will reduce the strength of the roof supports by a great amount. Your wood supports may have rotted over time, or older roof designs might need struts attached to strengthen them.
Given the weight of an average solar panel is around 20kg, you need to have the roof assessment done professionally. You may find that solar panel companies offer a free inspection, so take advantage of this offer should you come across it.
There is no getting away from the fact that solar panel installations will cost money. This is a major undertaking you are considering and one that, in time, will save you money and add to the value of your property. Yet, it’s the time factor that you need to consider in conjunction with the cost.
Specifically, ask yourself this: to the best of your knowledge, how long do you intend to remain in that house? Of course, you cannot build in eventualities you don’t know about – a job transfer, perhaps, or other reason you need to move location – but as things are right now, think about the question carefully.
We are stressing this because, while you will see immediate and certain reductions in the cost of your electricity once your panels come on-stream, it will take a few years – perhaps 5 or 6 according to some sources – for the cost of the installation to be offset by the savings. Once that point is reached, however, you are saving all the way.
If you plan to remain where you are for a long time, solar panels are a great investment. If you need to move every few years for work or other reasons, it is probably not the best way of saving energy, so look around for short-term cost-savings.
 5. Quality of Installation
Finally, we advise that you seek out a reputable, reliable solar panel installation company, one that has been in the business for some years and can point you in the direction of prior work and customer testimonies. With such a fast-growing market you need to be assured that you will get relevant and attractive warranties with your solar panel installation, for added peace of mind.
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