Solar installation mistakes can make or break the boons of going solar, and some solar installation teams, sadly, are responsible for these mistakes.
If you’re installing a couple solar panels to power one or two appliances in your homes, the onus of the mistakes is on you as you are probably the one doing the ..ahem..installation.
However, if you’re opting in to a full-fledged group of solar panels you want to power your entire home, you’ll want to make sure you pick a reputable solar company with a track record of successful installs and pleased customer reviews.
If mistakes do happen on the part of your install team, there are things consumers of solar power like you can learn to make sure you don’t suffer at the whim of these mistakes.
As the adage goes, knowledge is power, and true power is powering your home with solar panels after a successful install.
Although a great solar installation team will prevent these mistakes for you, this post will be a solid resource for helping solar panel seekers pick the right installation team and ask the appropriate questions prior to setting up an installation appointment.
When things happen rapidly, especially on a geographic scale as is the case with solar adoption in the state of Utah, it’s important to manage the buzz surrounding solar with the appropriate expectations.
This way, there are clearer expectations regarding what should happen on the level of solar installation. Watch out for the following red flags and pull the plug on an install team that succumbs to the following behaviors.
1. Your Solar Install Team Doesn’t Help You Understand Sunlight Logistics
You’d be surprised how many installation teams show up and do the installation without being able to answer a customer’s questions.
For instance, one thing often left unmentioned is an explanation of when the panels will function at peak performance during the day.
Even worse, some solar companies may not make a distinction between the hours the sun is in the sky and the hours of optimal wattage solar panels can extract from the sun at the panels’ peak performance hours. Although these two terms see interchangeable, there is a distinct difference.
Sun hours measure when the sun’s energy is most extractable from a set of solar panels. Daylight hours equal a measure of when one can get the most out of a set of solar panels.
For instance, if the sun is out for 15 hours, that doesn’t equate to optimal hours of solar panel usage, as the very beginning of each day’s sunlight and the very tail end of each day’s sunlight will harness power at a lower -than-average rate.
2. Failing to Gauge Real Power Consumption
When most people do an energy audit of their homes to discover the amount of electricity they use (which will affect the number of solar panels needed), they usually fail to include several items in the list.
From microwaves to toasters, there are many appliances that must be considered in an energy audit to get an accurate picture of how much energy consumption a household truly intakes. Although a power bill from your company suffices, there are other ways to gauge actual power consumption.
The biggest items, however, are stoves, refrigerators, air conditioners, and heaters.
One of the quickest ways to measure your actual power consumption is to look at the yellow energy guide sticker from the manufacturer of the appliance, which provides a rough estimate for the amount of energy the device will consume and cost you on an annual basis when transubstantiated into solar energy consumption efficiency.
These stickers will also provide you with an energy efficiency ratio (EER) for the device or appliance.
3. Scale Back on Energy Consumption Accordingly
Although the up-front payment for solar solutions is very small compared to the ROI they deliver over the long haul, you can decrease the amount of money you spend on panels (and therefore ROI) if you’re willing to adjust your energy usage accordingly.
4. Don’t Succumb to Bad Ideas
When someone doesn’t understand something, the instinct is to believe that it is easy.
However, easy doesn’t always translate to the right thing to do, and this is particularly true when it comes to taking your home solar.
We all want to get a good bang for our buck, so it’s understandable why people initially are tempted to go buy a solar solution from a retailer for a couple hundred bucks.
What isn’t as understandable, however, is expecting a solution that costs a couple hundred dollars (the price of a typical household utility bill) to power your whole home and save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a mortgage.
No, taking a home solar is not free.
Sometimes people figure they can get by just powering single appliances and see a huge return on investment with a smaller solar solution, even when broken down to a few appliances, but this scales back on the amount of money that can be saved.
For instance, someone may want to make their refrigerator entirely solar-dependent, and this just simply won’t work with a 150-watt kit trying to power a 450-watt fridge.
For that to work, your solar solution would have to run 3 times longer than your refrigerator, which is impossible because your refrigerator runs twenty-four hours per day, 7 days per week.
If you do the math beforehand, it’s less likely you’ll succumb to bad ideas.
5. Instead, Find an Install Team That Will Install a Full-Home Solar Solution
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, your solar panels need to face south. And the angle at which you mount the solar panel needs to be equal to the latitude of your house’s location. Any solid installation team will know this.
It’s also important to make sure there’s a big enough gap for air to enter between the panel and the circuits. If a panel receives excessive heat, it will not reach its optimal efficiency.
The ideal operating temperature for a panel is 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Don’t Lease a Grid-tied System that is Sold Door-to-Door
If someone tries to sell you a free system at your doorstep, know there are latent, hidden costs. If a solar solution seems too good to be true, that’s because it probably is. Although there is much headway to be made in the form of innovation in battery storage and power, not all claims can be accepted at face value just yet.