Lots of people love the idea using solar power to power their homes. They love the idea of reducing or eliminating their monthly electric bill. They want to help the environment and prevent climate change.
Not being experts in the field, you have questions. And so we have answers for you.
How Do I Know if Solar Panels Will Work?
Companies have been making solar panels, and homeowners and commercial building owners have been installing them, for decades. Barring a lapse in manufacturing quality control, if there's sunlight and everything is correctly installed, they work. If they don't, you'll know it right away, so use your warranty.
Do I Need a New Roof?
You don't need to replace your roof just to install solar panels. However, if your roof has a leak that needs repairing anyway, or is due for replacement, it just makes sense to do that before putting up the solar panels. That's because when you do roof work with solar panels already installed, the roofing contractor will need to take the solar panels off first just to get them out of the way.
Will My Roof Work?
If your roof keeps out the rain, it works. If not, repair it before putting up solar panels. However, the panels have nothing to do with your roof's quality. They just get in the way when you do need to repair or replace your roof, so make any necessary repairs or roof replacement before installing the panels.
What Kind of Roof Do You Need?
Any type of roofing material will suffice. Of course, we always recommend the best quality that suits your house, but it doesn't affect the solar panels or how much electricity they generate.
How Are Solar Panels Put on the Roof?
Usually they are not directly attached to your actual roof, but to mounted railings. Installers use sealant to fill in the gaps between them. Metal flashing or coverings surround the mounts, protecting them from harsh weather.
The coverings and the panels protect the portions of your roof underneath them by acting as a barrier, blocking the elements from them. Therefore, solar panels extend the useful life of your roof.
Shouldn't I Wait to Buy Solar Panels Until They are More Efficient?
If you own a house and plan to continue living in it for more than six months to a year, every month you do not have solar panels up, you're paying too much money to your local electric company.
Will the technology improve in the future? Certainly. But you don't wait to buy a computer or a cell phone until they reach their peak power. They never will, not in your lifetime. Just obtain the best and most efficient panels available now that fit into your budget.
Besides, the federal government is currently offering a 30% solar tax credit. Many states are also offering financial incentives to install solar panels. When solar panels are standard, those tax credits will disappear. Take advantage of them now.
Studies show that solar panels repay their cost within 7-15 years. In states that offer a lot of tax incentives, it's 2-4 years. Therefore, if you do sell first, having solar panels will help your house sell for a higher price.
What Happens on Cool, Cloudy Overcast Days?
Solar panels use ambient light just as well as direct sunlight. Even on dull, dingy days in November, they still produce significant amounts of electrical power. And they actually work more efficiently in cool weather than in the heat of summer.
If the sun is in the sky, unless darkened by thick storm clouds, solar panels work.
Do I Need to Buy a Battery?
You can buy a battery, but they are expensive, take up a lot of space and need replacing every 5-10 years. Unless you're in an isolated rural location, it's probably more cautious to remain hooked up to the country's main electrical grid.
Most modern solar panels hook up to the grid. During the day when the sun is shining, the solar panels capture about 10% to 13% of that energy and use it to power your house. The electricity you and your house do not need goes into the grid. Therefore, you do not use power generated by your local electric utility company. In fact, your electric meter goes backward, giving you credit for the amount of electricity you are supplying to the grid.
You're on a regular daily cycle. In the daytime, the solar panels on your roof generate power for your personal use and supply it to the grid. At night when your solar panels cease generating electricity, you draw from the grid to power your home. You pay for the power you use, but get a credit for the power you generate, resulting in a net savings of several hundred dollars per month or so depending on your location and the weather.
Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance?
They don't have any moving parts, and therefore need no maintenance. Manufacturers do recommend hosing them off once a year or so. Most homeowners just let rain do that for them.
What Happens if the Grid Goes Out Because of a Blackout or Power Outage?
All systems tied to the grid go out as well, including your solar panels. That seems unfair, but it wouldn't be safe to have solar panels sending electricity through the grid wires when utility workers are struggling to fix the outage. Here at BRAX Roofing, we team up with homeowners. We'd love to see you save on electric bills by installing solar panels. And it just makes sense to first make sure your roof is in great shape. Call us today to arrange for a free roof inspection by one of our certified roofing inspectors. We'll be glad to answer any other questions you have about solar panels and your roof.