Transition to Solar Power the Smart Way
If generous tax incentives and utility rebates aren’t enough to make you want to install solar power on your Portland, Texas, home, the energy savings should. Getting solar power requires the help of a professional, but there are things you can do yourself to make the transition easier.
Understand Solar Power
You’ve seen solar panels at some point in your life. The smaller boxes in solar panels are photovoltaic cells. They’re batteries that harness the sunlight, convert it to energy and send it to an inverter system that turns it into electricity. The amount of energy harvested depends on how big your home’s solar system is, how much sun it gets and how efficiently.
Larger solar panels harness more power than smaller panels because more photovoltaic cells are working together. Smaller panels created from higher efficiency cells generate similar amounts of energy as larger groups of cells that operate at lower efficiency. Many panels have the ability to produce as much as 320 watts of power.
Assess and Reduce Your Energy Use
Before implementing solar energy, you should do a home energy audit or have a professional energy audit done. Consider investing in Energy Star appliances instead of outdated models for frequently used devices such as your HVAC unit, washer and dryer, and dishwasher. Change out incandescent light bulbs to LED or CFL bulbs.
Evaluate Your Solar Potential
Harvesting solar energy is all about the panels and where they rest. There are mapping tools and services that help determine your solar potential based on your home’s roofing, your trees and the direction of your house. However, nothing replaces the expertise of one of our solar professionals.
Evaluate Your Electricity Needs
Before meeting with one of our solar service technicians, you can calculate your home’s electric needs. Review electrical use over the last year; it’s shown on your bill as kilowatt-hours (kWh).
You’ll want to use 12 months of statements to account for energy spikes during peak heating and cooling system use. Your utility company may have your past year’s bills online.
Question Your Contractor
Make sure your potential contractor understands local laws, policies and permits regarding the interconnection process. An experienced solar professional who knows the rules and regulations will help make sure your system goes online as quickly as possible.
Ask for customer references, and get at least two. Any reputable contractor will gladly give them. When you talk to the client, ask what challenges there were and how the contractor addressed them.
Ask about licensing and bonding. Only licensed specialists with an electrical contractor’s license should install a solar system. Your state’s electrical board can confirm a license. Local building laws may require your installer to have a general contractor’s license as well. Check with your city or county to make sure.
Get details about your system’s warranty. How long does it last? Who guarantees it? What does it cover? Industry standards allow for at least 20 years on panels and 10 years on inverters. You should know who will repair and maintain your system during its warranty period.
Make sure the contractor doesn’t have any judgments or liens. It’s critical that you do your due diligence for such a large investment. Check with the Better Business Bureau, state electric boards, and city and county offices for complaints against a solar installer.
Work With Your Contractor
Your solar installer will review the information you’ve gathered to help you decide which system will work in your home. He’ll cooperate with you to assess your home’s solar resources, system tilt and orientation, and efficiency. He should also help you understand how your utility billing and metering will change, and what other costs you could incur.
At Bodine-Scott, we’ve worked with dozens of area home and business owners to install solar power. Our experts are NABCEP certified and stay up to date on all advances in the industry. If you’re interested in solar energy, call Bodine-Scott Air Conditioning at 888-481-8511 today. Our staff is glad to answer any questions you may have.
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