Do’s and Don’ts of Installing Solar Power for Net Metering

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The rising costs of electricity and the growing concern for environmental impact have propelled solar power into the spotlight. Net metering, a system that allows you to earn credits for selling solar energy sent back to the power company via grid, makes solar panels even more attractive.

However, before diving into solar panel installation, understanding the key “do’s and don’ts” is crucial for a successful and rewarding experience.

Do’s of Installing Solar Power for Net Metering

Research Your Roof

  • Not all roofs are suitable for solar panels. Before getting excited, assess your roof’s size, orientation, and sun exposure. South-facing roofs with ample sunlight are ideal. A professional solar installer can conduct a thorough roof assessment to determine suitability.

Understand Your Electricity Usage

  • Knowing your average monthly electricity consumption is crucial for sizing your solar system properly. Analyze your past year’s electricity bills or contact your utility company to get these details.

Size Your System for Efficiency

  • A perfectly sized system is key. A system too small won’t generate enough energy to meet your needs, while an oversized system might send excess energy back to the grid at potentially lower credit rates. Aim for a system that offsets your electricity use as closely as possible.

Research Net Metering Policies

  • Net metering policies vary by location. Understand your utility company’s specific program details, including credit rates, rollover policies, and any potential changes on the horizon.

Get Multiple Quotes

  • Don’t jump at the first offer you receive. Compare quotes from several reputable solar installers to find the best pricing and system options for your needs. Look for companies with experience, certifications, and positive customer reviews.

Consider Financing Options

  • The upfront cost of solar panels can be significant. Explore financing options such as solar loans, leases, or government incentives to make the switch more affordable.

Think Beyond Net Metering

  • While net metering offers significant savings, consider adding a battery storage system to maximize self-consumption of your solar energy and further reduce reliance on the grid. This is particularly relevant if your utility company implements time-of-use rates where electricity costs fluctuate based on peak usage times.

Choose Quality Panels and Installation:

  • Cutting corners on equipment quality or installation can lead to problems down the road. Look for installers who offer high-efficiency solar panels and prioritize quality workmanship.

Factor in Maintenance Costs

  • While solar panels require minimal maintenance, consider the cost of occasional cleaning or potential future repairs. Factor these costs into your overall budget.

Don’ts of Installing Solar Power for Net Metering

Rush into a Decision

  • Installing solar power is a significant investment. Take your time, research thoroughly, and ask questions before signing any contracts.

Focus Only on the Lowest Price

  • While cost is a crucial factor, prioritize quality over an overly cheap quote. Remember, a reputable installer with high-quality components will ensure your system functions efficiently and lasts for decades.

Ignore the Shading Issue:

  • Even partial shade on your solar panels can significantly decrease their energy production. Ensure your installer carefully analyzes any potential shading throughout the day.

Neglect the Permitting Process

  • Most localities require permits for solar panel installations. Work with your chosen installer to navigate the permitting process and ensure your system complies with all local regulations.

Overestimate Net Metering Credits:

  • Don’t expect net metering credits to completely eliminate your electricity bills. Net metering offsets some costs, but you’ll likely still use some grid power, especially during peak usage times or cloudy days.

Ignore Warranties and Guarantees

  • Carefully review the warranties offered on your solar panels and the installation work. Ensure they adequately cover performance, workmanship, and any potential defects.

Neglect System Monitoring

  • Once your solar system is installed, monitor its performance. Most systems offer monitoring tools that allow you to track energy production and identify any potential issues promptly.

Forget About Insurance

  • Discuss solar panel coverage with your insurance company. While some homeowners’ insurance policies might automatically cover solar panels, others might require additional coverage.

Understanding Net Metering FAQs

1. Will solar panels completely eliminate my electricity bill?

Net metering can significantly reduce your electricity bills, but it might not eliminate them entirely. During peak usage times or on cloudy days, you might still rely on grid power, resulting in some electricity cost.

2. What happens if my solar panels generate more energy than I use?

Net metering programs allow you to earn credits for excess solar energy sent back to the grid. These credits then offset your electricity costs when your solar panels aren’t producing enough power for your needs. However, the rate at which you receive credits can vary by location. Some utilities offer credits at the retail rate you pay for electricity, while others might offer a lower wholesale rate.

3. Do I need to be connected to the grid to use solar power?

While net metering programs typically involve grid connection, it’s possible to install a standalone solar system with battery storage for off-grid living. However, this approach requires a much larger initial investment and careful system design to ensure you have enough energy storage for extended periods with limited sunlight.


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