Questions to Consider Before Installing Rooftop Solar

There are several steps to take before installing a rooftop solar system, such as determining if your home receives enough sun to achieve your goals, finding the right contractor, and negotiating contracts and other important details. Photo by Bill Mead

“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, that not every home—and homeowner’s situation—is always right for solar.

There are several steps to take before pulling the trigger on a rooftop solar system, such as determining if your home receives enough sun to achieve your goals, finding the right contractor, and negotiating contracts.

Investing in solar for your home is a major decision. If you’re considering rooftop solar, Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative (GCEC) can help.

Here are eight questions to consider before installing rooftop solar panels.

What are my goals?

If your primary goal is to save money on electric bills, you may be able to achieve this through our free energy audit program, which can identify areas of te home for maximum energy savings.

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 the roof receives and if trees need to be removed. Solar panels perform best when facing south, so keep this in mind as you think about mounting panels.

How long will I own the home?

If you are considering rooftop solar, you are likely planning to stay in the home for several years. However, if you plan to sell the home at some point, consider that not all potential buyers want to maintain a rooftop solar system. If you enter into a contract to lease the system, carefully review the terms and what those mean if you decide to sell the property.

Lease or buy?

Buying a rooftop solar system is expensive, so many homeowners opt to lease solar panels. However, federal tax credits can help cover up to 30% of the costs for a new system. Regardless of how you decide to finance the solar system, make sure you get several quotes from qualified contractors.

Can the contractor provide up-to-date documentation?

It may seem obvious, but request proof and documentation of the contractor’s licensing, permitting, and other credentials. Comb through company reviews, and check the contractor’s status with Better Business Bureau. Do your homework on the front end before signing a contract.

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.

The condition of your roof and how much sun it receives are important factors to consider before solar installation. Adobe Stock Iamge by Serjedi

Who will maintain the solar panels?

Determining who is responsible for maintaining the solar panels depends 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 affect panel productivity. Parts may also need to be replaced. Knowing who will take on these responsibilities is important.

How will I work with GCEC?

Finally, but equally important, you should contact GCEC if you decide to install solar. The system must be connected to the electric grid, so you need to sign an interconnection agreement. We can walk you through the steps, including how our solar rates work.

Visit Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative website for a general overview of how you can work with us on connecting your new rooftop solar system. Use our online rooftop solar assessment tool to help you determine cost estimates, how long it will take for the system to pay for itself, and more. 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 installing a system.

Before deciding to go solar, do plenty of research upfront, and contact GCEC if you have questions.

We’re your local energy partner and can be a helpful resource throughout the process.