Installing solar panels on you roof sounds pretty cool until you start looking into how to go about it and consider what it's going to cost. The process is time consuming, frustrating and there are many issues to consider. You may be tempted to pick up the phone and call a local company. Unless money is not important, we think a better approach might be to use a Solar Calculator provided courtesy of Solar City, a company that has partnered with Google. After that you'l be able to decide if it's worth persuing.
Why use a Solar Calculator?
A solar calculator like the one Solar City provides will save you and them a lot of time. Installing solar panels on the roof of your home is an expensive investment. Whether it's worth it depends on the followig factors:
- What part of the country you live in and how much solar radiation do you get.
- What your current electricity bills are and are they going up in the future.
- Who supplies your electricity.
- How much of your roof is exposed to the sun.
- The pitch of the roof.
The solar calulator asks for the minimal information such as zip code, address, what percentage of your roof is shaded, its slope and which way it faces. The most important piece of data is what your current electricity bill is. So get out those electricity bills and crunch some numbers. After entering this information you'll be provides with several scenarios on how much it will cost and what your savings will be.
- Leasing the solar panels and equipment- you'll pay for this each month under a solar lease agreement
- Paying some money up front
That should be sufficient to decide if it is worth picking up the phone and going forward.
Click on this link to get started http://solarlease.solarcity.com/solarbidlite/estimator.aspx
Can the Solar Calculator be misleading?
The Solar Calculator is just a tool with built in assumptions. When it forecasts your solar savings in the future it has to guess what your electricity bills will be in those years. If your electricity bills are higher in the future than your savings with solar panels will be higher. If electricity costs decline than all you'll have is the satisfaction to that you are reaping the sun's enormous power.
We like the fact that Solar City gives you options for how you want to pay for the system. If you go with the solar lease you are stuck with paying that lease for the term of the project. Ask questions about what happens if you want to sell your house. Is that lease transferrable? Also what happens if the solar panel industry makes a major technological break through tomorrow and a new super solar panel is created at half the cost you paid for your solar system. Will you be able to replace your old solar panels with the new ones and at what cost?
When should I call a company like Solar City?
If your solar savings are only a few hunderd dollars a year even with Federal and State solar energy I would consider putting your money else where to save energy. Recovering the heat from hot water using a GFX heat recovery drain systems may be more feasible or just installing more insulation or foam may be more cost effective.
On the other hand if your savings are high and you are staying put in your house for a while and want a company that knows solar technology and will get you those Federal and State renewable energy credits or grants then Solar City is worth a look.
If any of you have used Solar City's services we would love to hear what your experience has been.
Note: We are not being paid to write this post by Solar City or Google. We just think the solar calculator is a cool tool to use to give you insights on what solar will cost and how it will benefit you.