The cost of solar panels continues to fall as the number of installations increases across Southern California. Solar panels can dramatically reduce your energy costs and help you live a green lifestyle, but installing them on your roof is a big decision. Here are several important things to consider before installing a solar panel system for your home, brought to you by the trusted San Diego home insurance providers at American Tri-Star.
Make Sure Your Property Is a Good Candidate
Your roof and property will need to meet certain guidelines to benefit from solar panels. If your roof is usually covered in shade, you may not have a big enough solar window to justify the cost of solar panels. Even if your rooftop gets plenty of sunlight, it also needs to be in good condition. A solar installation can last for decades, so it shouldn’t be installed on a roof that needs to be replaced in the next 5 years. Otherwise, it will add thousands to the new roof. Make sure your roof is large enough to support a solar panel system as well.
Your home’s orientation also matters. A home with a southwest, south, or southeast-facing roof will produce the most solar energy, but a home with a north-facing roof will produce far less energy.
There Are Several Types of Solar Panel Systems
Roof-mounted solar panels are the traditional choice in San Diego, but there are other solutions. A ground-mounted solar array can be a good choice if you have a north-facing roof or insufficient space on your roof, although this system is more expensive than a roof-mounted array.
There are even a few different types of panels. If you don’t like the look of large solar panels overtaking your roof, you may want to consider solar shingles. These photovoltaic cells look like conventional roof shingles with a discreet appearance that doesn’t ruin your roofline. You can also mount solar panels with a tracker that moves the panels with the sun. Trackers can be costly but they maximize the amount of solar power your array produces.
Know How Net Energy Metering Works
You probably won’t rely on just solar energy to power your home. You will stay connected with the utility company and get credit for the electricity your solar panels generate. In San Diego, net energy metering refers to a two-way connection between your solar panels and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). When you generate more energy than you use, you will earn bill credits for the excess power that goes to SDG&E’s electricity grid. When you don’t produce enough electricity to meet your home’s needs, you can use SDG&E for backup electricity or use the credits you have earned.
Your Savings May Be Substantial
While a solar panel system can cost around $20,000, you can qualify for numerous tax credits and incentives. The federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of your system on your federal taxes, and California exempts solar panel systems from property taxes. You can also qualify for the California Solar Initiative program with incentives through your utility company.
In exchange for the upfront cost, a solar panel array can last 20 or more years with virtually no maintenance. California averages more sunlight hours every day than most states, which makes it easier to dramatically reduce or eliminate electricity bills every month. In California, where the average system costs $13,000 and electricity rates tend to be high, homeowners save an average of $29,000 over 20 years.
If you’d like to find out how solar panels might impact your homeowners insurance, get in touch with American Tri-Star today. We also provide affordable auto, RV, and commercial insurance in San Diego. Give us a call at 619-272-2100 to learn more.