When outfitting your home for solar electricity, you'll have several conversations with the solar panel installation company that's putting your home's panels in. The company's representatives aren't they only people you'll want to talk with about the installation, though. Here are some other people you'll want to contact if you're getting solar panels for your home.
Start by getting in touch with a roofer who can tell you how long your home's current roof will last.
If your home's roof will need to be replaced in just a few years, you probably don't want to install solar panels right now. Instead, wait until you have a new roof on your home so that the panels won't have to be removed and reinstalled soon after they're put on.
If your home's roof is in good shape and will last for a while, there's little reason to delay putting solar panels on the roof. By the time you'll have to replace the roof, you'll have already recouped your initial investment -- and likely more -- in monthly savings on your electric bill.
Your Homeowners Association
If you live in a development that has a homeowners association (HOA), make sure the association permits solar panels. The vast majority of HOAs allow homeowners to install solar panels, and 24 states even have laws that limit HOAs' ability to prohibit solar panel installations. Nonetheless, you'll want to know if your HOA has any requirements for solar panels.
(Any state law regarding solar panels overrules potential HOA regulations that are in conflict with the law.)
If you have tall trees near where the solar panels will be installed, the trees should be removed by an arborist before the panels are set up. Trees not only limit the effectiveness of solar panels by blocking sunlight, but they also can damage panels if their branches fall down in a storm. An arborist will be able to remove or trim any trees that are too close to the solar panels' location.
Your Electric Provider
You'll, of course, need to talk with your electric provider. There are two reasons to contact your electric provider before having solar panels installed.
First, your electric provider may have electricity buying programs you can take advantage of. Many providers will purchase excess electricity that's generated by residential solar panels. When you talk with your electric provider, ask about the following:
- Whether such a program exists
- Whether you need any special equipment (e.g. a smart meter) to participate in the program
- How much the provider pays for electricity you sell to them
- Whether the provider pays cash for electricity or only credits bills
- Whether there are any limits or restrictions on electricity the provider will purchase
You'll want to make sure you can take advantage of any available program, and you'll want to know what to expect from the program.
Second, ask for your past year's electric bills. Even if your latest bill shows the past 12 months of usage, you'll want the actual bill for each month in the previous year. They'll show both the usage of and what you paid each month.
The solar panel installation company you work with will use these bills to determine how many solar panels to install. With your past year's payment history, the installation company can also help you calculate how much you'll save on your electric bill in the coming months and years.
The solar panel installation company you're working with will be able to tell you what solar panel tax incentives you're able to take advantage of. An installation company, however, won't be able to tell you exactly how any tax deductions or rebates will impact your personal tax situation.
To find out how tax incentives will affect your specific situation, you'll have to talk with an accountant. An accountant will apply the details the installation company tells you about and show you how the incentives will impact your personal tax payment or refund. For more information, contact companies like AAA Solar Source.