So You Want to Go Solar, but is Your Home a Good Fit?
If you’re seriously considering using the sun to power your home then you’ll already know that a solar power system will help you to save on your electricity bills, get on top of load shedding, increase the value of your property, and play a part in protecting the environment.
But before you contact a reputable installer that ideally offers an end-to-end service, make sure your home is ready to benefit from a domestic solar system. Start by answering these five simple questions.
1. Does your local climate give you enough sun?
A solar panel is essentially a collection of photovoltaic cells encased in a frame. High efficiency solar panels work by turning photons that are present in both direct and indirect sunlight into electricity. As light hits the cells, electrons are separated from their atoms and flow through the cell, generating electricity. This means they will work even in cold temperatures as long there is plenty of sunlight – typically at least four hours of direct sunlight each day is best for solar panels.
If you live in an area that has longer cold winters, speak to your installer about the durability rating of the solar panels you are considering for your home as well as a solar battery storage system that will keep your home supplied with electricity at night and in inclement weather.
2. Do you own your home?
It is simpler to go ahead with the installation of a solar power system if you own full title on the home you’re living in. If you live in a sectional title complex, you will need to get permission from the home owners association to install any solar panels on your roof which may alter the aesthetics of the complex.
If you’re a long-term renter, speak to the owner of the property about installing a solar system to lower electricity bills and increase the value of their property – houses that have solar panels tend to sell faster for a higher price than those without. You’ll also want to point out the tax incentives they will be able to take advantage of.
3. Is your roof right for solar power?
Your roof will need to be constructed with strong, durable materials that meet acceptable roofing standards and are in good condition. If your roof needs to be replaced or repaired in the near future, do this before attempting to install solar panels. Also, check that the type of hardware your installer intends using is compatible with most roof types and is visually attractive.
Now, consider the orientation of your solar panels. Unobstructed, north-facing panels capture the maximum amount of solar radiation. Also, keep in mind that excessive exposure to wind and rain can degrade the performance of your panels over time. Nearby and overhanging trees are another factor when considering the orientation of your panels – apart from the shade they create, branches can scratch the surface of your panels. You’ll need to be willing to trim or remove any trees that affect the performance of your solar panels.
Even if your roof is not ideally situated, a reputable installer will design a system with the correct components to work around these factors and minimise their impact.
4. Do you have enough roof space?
To work out if you have enough space on your roof for solar panels, follow these steps:
- Measure your roof space.
- Work out how many panels you’re likely to need by dividing your square meterage by two (an average solar panel of two square metres produces about 370 watts per hour in favourable conditions).
- Now multiply the number of panels by 370 watts then multiply this number by five hours of sun a day.
- Next, multiply this number by the amount of days in a month.
- Ideally, the result should match up with the amount of electricity you use on average each month.
5. Are there alternatives to rooftop solar power installation?
Yes, there are. If you can’t install solar panels on your roof, there are a number of alternative solutions that will allow you to reap all the benefits of solar power. These include mounting panels on a garage, carport or even the ground if you have the space on your property. Keep in mind that you might be in for the additional expense of cabling, trenching and even paving if you opt for an alternative solution.
The best way to truly understand whether solar is a good fit your home is to get in touch with solar experts you can trust for an instant quote. In the meantime, download our handy Is your Home Fit for Solar – A Guide.