“Free energy from the sun and lower electric bills… Where do I sign up?” The benefits of installing rooftop solar panels may seem like a no-brainer but the reality is not every home (and homeowner’s situation) is always right for solar. There are several factors to consider before pulling the trigger on a rooftop solar system, like determining if your home will receive enough sun to achieve your goals, finding the right contractor, negotiating contracts and more. Investing in solar for your home is a major decision. If you’re considering rooftop solar, KEC can help. Here are eight questions to consider before installing rooftop solar panels.
1. What are my goals? If your main goal is to use renewable energy and help the environment, consider signing up for our community solar program. You can help power renewable energy, without having to invest and maintain a home system. KEC’s Community Solar Project is located in Worley, and members may purchase individual units for $380 each. Each unit is expected to generate about 234 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. Participating members receive bill credits for the energy created by their unit(s). Learn more.
2. Is my roof suitable for solar? Your roof should be in good condition before installing solar panels. If your roof is old and in poor shape, it may need to be replaced before panels can be mounted. Additionally, your roof should receive a lot of sun to make the most of a rooftop system. Consider how much sun (and shade) the roof receives and if any trees will need to be removed. Solar panels perform best when facing south, so keep this in mind as you think about where the panels will be mounted. Visit https://pvwatts.nrel.gov/ for a free online calculator provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that can help homeowners develop estimates of the performance of potential solar installations.
3. How long will I own the home? If you’re considering rooftop solar, you’re likely planning to stay in the home for several years. But if you plan to sell the home at some point down the road, consider that not all potential buyers will want to maintain a rooftop solar system. If you enter a contract to lease the system, carefully review the terms and what those mean if you decide to sell the property.
4. Lease or purchase? Purchasing a rooftop solar system outright is expensive, which is why many homeowners opt to lease their solar panels. However, federal tax credits can help cover some of the costs for a new system, up to 30%. Regardless of how you decide to finance the solar system, make sure you get several quotes from qualified contractors. Speaking of contractors, there are several factors you’ll want to discuss with them up front.
5. Can the contractor provide up-to-date documentation? It may seem obvious but be sure to request proof and documentation of the contractor’s licensing, permitting and other credentials. Comb through company reviews, check the contractor’s status with the Better Business Bureau, etc.—do your homework on the front end before signing a contract.
6. Does the contract seem reasonable and fair? If you decide to hire a contractor to install rooftop solar, carefully read the fine print of the contract. Do the system performance calculations seem realistic? Does the project timeframe sound reasonable? Negotiate the contract terms to fit your goals and needs.
7. Who will maintain the solar panels? Determining who is responsible for maintaining the solar panels will depend on who owns the system. If you lease the system from a solar installer, it may be their responsibility. Periodically, solar panels need to be cleaned as dirt and debris can impact panel productivity. Also, when a solar panel is covered with snow, it cannot produce electricity. Parts may also need to be replaced, so it’s important to know who will take on these responsibilities.
8. How will I work with KEC? Finally, but equally important, you must contact KEC if you decide to install solar panels. Since the system must be connected to the electric grid, you’ll need to submit an application, pay a $250 non-refundable application fee, provide drawings and technical details of the array, sign an interconnection agreement and have an inspection completed by KEC prior to connection. When you contact us, we can walk you through these steps. At that time, we can also review how KEC billing works once installation is complete, including the required monthly service availability charge and how our kWh credits work for excess energy your system may generate. Visit www.kec.com/member-owned-generation for a general overview of how you can work with us on connecting your new rooftop solar system.
For many homeowners, solar panels are a great way to help the environment and save on electric bills—but there are many factors to consider before diving in and installing a system. As with any major home project, do plenty of research up front, and contact KEC at 208.765.1200 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or decide to move forward with installation.