When considering solar panel installation, it is important to consider two questions:
1) Is my roof exposed to sufficient sunlight?
First, analyze the direction that your home faces and its surroundings. Is the rooftop unshaded by trees or other buildings? An ideal rooftop for solar panels would be free of shade and south-facing for the most sun exposure.
Our home has east and west facing rooftops, which are exposed to sufficient sunlight to provide all of our home’s energy needs and more. Unfortunately, many utility companies require a south-facing rooftop to qualify for rebates.
The project we completed in 2012 for a family member was a south-facing garage which held fewer panels (3.5 kW) but still generates enough to provide 100% of the household electricity during summer months.
2) Does my utility company offer a rebate?
Installing solar panels is expensive. It’s true. But this cost can be lowered by leveraging utility rebates, tax credits and possibly even local incentives. Utility companies in some states are required by law to produce a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. One way utility companies achieve this is by purchasing SREC credits (Solar Renewable Energy Certificate). Homeowners can sell the SREC’s from their solar panels to the utility, thus creating an opportunity to become their own “power plant” and not only produce power for their own home, but sell excess energy back to the utility through a system called “net metering”.
Here is a link to find out which utility companies offer renewable energy incentives: