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Top 7 mistakes some homeowners make when going solar

There is something appealing about having solar X installed solar panels on your roof. They bring a sense of modernism, of independence, and of environmentalism. For many homeowners, the idea of generating clean electricity and reducing their energy bills means a lot more than just the savings.

That’s why we are recommending they avoid these top 7 mistakes when going solar.

1. Using subpar equipment

For most homeowners, the greatest barrier to owning solar panels is the upfront cost of the installation. This often encourages prospective solar customers to search for the lowest installation price they can find.

In the interest of due diligence, homeowners should pursue several quotes before settling on a solar company; but automatically going with the lowest quote is not recommended. A low quote may result from a company sourcing lower quality panels, or it could be that the company cuts corners. A low-quality installation can even cause roof leaks!

Solar panels should last at least a couple of decades, so procuring a reliable source is of utmost importance. Paying for a quality installation also helps reduce the likelihood of problems popping up down the line, saves you money. A quality installation should be aesthetically pleasing with all or most conduit runs hidden and evenly spaced panels.

2. Leasing instead of owning solar panels

Leasing solar panels is another way homeowners reduce the upfront cost of adopting solar power.

However, this option should be avoided at all costs. Leasing panels dramatically reduces potential energy savings and often requires homeowners to enter into complicated, long-term contracts. These contracts can be challenging (to get out of) if a homeowner chooses to move, often requiring the lease to be prepaid or transferred to the new homeowner (if their credit qualifies).

Unfortunately, the prospect of a long-term contract and the requirement of excellent credit makes home buyers wary. In comparison, owning solar panels increases the worth of your home, making it easier to sell. Leasing also means homeowners are unable to qualify for government incentives such as tax credits or rebates. Instead, the leasing company takes advantage of these savings.

For these reasons, it’s advised that homeowners look for ways to finance solar panels instead of leasing.

3. Fly by night contractors

It’s always advised to do a thorough check of a company’s reputation and credibility before purchasing anything. Fraud, while not commonplace in the solar industry, still occurs. If a company has poor reviews and little experience, it’s best to steer clear. Most solar companies offer warranties up to several years, so making sure your installation company will still be around to honor that warranty is essential.

Ideally, homeowners should look for contractors with several years of experience, verifiable qualifications, good reviews, and references.

4. Not understanding your utility bill

The primary purpose of installing solar panels is to incur savings on electrical bills, which are split into two parts: usage and the delivery charge. Neither of these charges is fixed, providing homeowners additional flexibility to lower their bills with solar power.

Christopher Ogilvie, the sales director at Solar X, says delivery charges are “proportional to the power you use.” Going solar decreases a homeowner’s reliance on drawing power from their local electrical grid, which in turn significantly reduces both their usage and delivery charges. It should be noted that delivery charges, much like electricity rates, vary depending on location.

Overall, homeowners residing in provinces that have high electricity costs have a greater incentive to switch to solar.

5. Using microinverters

Solar installations commonly use centralized string inverters; however, microinverters have grown in popularity over the last several years. Microinverters marginally improve the efficiency of an installation while simultaneously monitoring the electricity generation from each panel.

Each specific solar panel requires a microinverter, which means exposing multiple points for failure. This increases the risk of technical problems arising as well as the burden of maintenance.

In comparison, one string inverter is (usually) enough for an entire residential installation. Microinverters also suffer from limited wattage capabilities, as well as lost efficiency during conversions to battery storage.

inverter-vs-microinverter
Inverter Vs Microinverter (Solar X)

6. Not accounting for shade

A professional and detailed property analysis should always be conducted before moving forward with installing solar panels to identify anything that could reduce efficiency. Roof orientation and overhead foliage play a significant role in determining whether solar panels make economic sense.

If a roof is oriented in such a manner that it’s covered by shade for most of the day, there may not be a broad enough “solar window” to justify the cost of panels.

Clearing overhead vegetation will also help maximize savings for homeowners.

7. Putting panels on an old or damaged roof

Roofing is the structural foundation for most residential solar installations. Unfortunately, roofing is also one of the most commonly neglected parts of a home.

If any part of your roof is compromised, adding solar panels will only worsen the problem. This is because the installation process requires a team of professionals to install racking for the panels by drilling into roof tiles. A compromised roof will degrade much faster after solar panels are installed.

Replacing your roof before you get solar panels is much cheaper than doing it after. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay your solar company to take them down, then put them back up after the roof remodeling is complete.

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