5 Things Real Estate Builders Should Know About Solar Panels
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Custom Builder Video Introduction and Question
As we’ve seen in California, it’s important for builders to stay in the know about this alternative energy source. I spoke with a custom builder and solar panel installer and here are five things they say builders should know.
Go Solar Group’s Highlighted Responses
Below are Go Solar Group’s responses to various questions (given by James O’Connor, the company’s Director of Marketing).
Misconception 1: “There Isn’t More than 1 Solar Installation Type”
There is a range of misconceptions about solar power, which is the case with a lot of technologies that are up and coming and will soon be the norm within five, ten, fifteen, 100 years. At that point, everything will be powered by solar. One of the misconceptions is that you have to install solar panels on the roof. Some people also think that the aesthetic of the solar panels isn’t pleasing, so they ask if we can “put these in a place where no one will see them: We save money, but we don’t necessarily want to put the modules on our roof.” The answer to that question is ‘absolutely’. If you have space around the home and there’s enough space to comply with the area’s municipal electrical coding, you can do a ground mount. most of our customers will do a standard roof mount and the most common roof type that we install on is an asphalt shingle roof.
Another misconception many real estate builders have is that all solar companies are limited in the kinds of installs they can do. Although the roof mount is the most popular (installation type), solar shingles are another option. However, standard solar panels still give you the best solar ROI on solar. The solar shingles may look better but the panels will get you the most return on your investment and that’s what most of our homeowners are looking for. As far as the solar shingles are concerned, we don’t advise people to do that if they’re just wanting the ROI.” These are more durable and high quality; the main reason we prefer to use them is they have better PV efficiency: We use Axitec and other premium modules as well, which we offer in special circumstances. Polycrystalline modules are typically cheaper; they cost less but they’re not as efficient, so you’re actually likely losing money compared to what you could be saving with the premium panel options or monocrystalline Axitec module options. These panels are a bit more durable and over the span of many years (four to five decades), or even just the years to which the production warranty applies, going with a higher quality module will make all the difference in ROI and savings in the long run despite larger up-front costs.
Misconception 2: “Where the Panels Go Doesn’t Matter”
The second thing that we want to do is clarify for builders that we want to design the system with the infrastructure of the home in mind: This means we design the system appropriately to receive the maximum benefit from the sun’s rays. If the house is in the woods or if there are clearly a lot of trees around, it’s advisable to either clear the trees entirely or trim them; we basically model all of our home installations in the computer with solar installation software like Aurora, so we can really study the roof and build an optimal design for the system that maximizes the amount of solar energy received by the home and ensure its specified to the home’s historical usage patterns.
Misconception 3: “Panel Production is the Same Across All Roof Types, and the Pitch of the Solar Modules Doesn’t Matter”
Builders need to be aware of how they’re building the roofs on homes to account for a solar-ready infrastructure. Builders who make homes with a south-facing pitch clear of foliage put themselves in the clear, as this is how to make solar panels work best. You want it to be clear enough to absorb the sunlight; so ensuring the homes have enough space (which we know is tough for builders), since the more homes you jam together, in close proximity, the more homes you can build and ultimately sell on a plot of land. However, packing too many homes into too tight of space is not ideal for a solar-ready neighborhood infrastructure. This matters from a residential solar standpoint but for commercial solar as well.
Misconception 4: “Every Home and Person Qualifies for Residential Solar Installation”
If you choose not to lease solar panels (“owning” them through a payment program or via buying them in cash outright is financially savvier), it’s best to go solar for zero down with a reputable installer. However, to do that, you’ll need a requisite credit score from a reputable credit reporting bureau.
Misconception 5: “I Should Go Solar Regardless of How Much Power I Use”
When Go Solar Group’s installation experts size your system, the number of modules needed and installation type is going to be determined by your usage level in your home. The more power you use from the utility, the more viable an investment solar will be, at least as a product generating ROI. E.g., Go Solar Group will not install systems for people who don’t have enough energy usage: the Baseline amount needed is 500 kWh per month (6,000-kilowatt-hours annually).
Misconception 6: “Solar Panels Don’t Last Very Long”
While most production warranties for solar panels have an 80% efficiency for 20-25 years, a standard system will produce at that efficiency for 30, 40, and sometimes even 50 years. This is especially true with the higher-quality monocrystalline solar modules.