Solar Guide when Looking for Solar Panels Estimate

This guide will provide you information and a list of solar panel questions to ask the professional expert when having your solar panel estimate, and how many panels your home might need.

How to Choose a Solar Panel Installer

Choosing a solar installer company can be a difficult decision, we will summarize what to look for in a solar installer in 3 points:

  1. Licenses and insurance
  2. all solar installers must have the necessary licenses and insurance policies, the typical business licenses include general contracting, electrician, and home improvement contracting licenses.

  3. Track Record and experience
  4. make sure that your installer has a good solar track record, the solar providers should be able to discuss and show you the systems they installed for past clients.

  5. Reputation
  6. reviews from previous customers can give you a good insight for evaluating installers, although some reviews might be misleading since they are not relevant to you, ratings can provide a pattern of customer complaints or compliments that will help you make a final decision whether you want to work with or without a specific company.

What to Ask When having a Solar Panel Estimate?

Going solar has environmental benefits for their green energy and emissions lacking function, they cut down the energy you use from the grid, a renewable source of energy, and they last for a long time with almost no maintenance, but to be prepared, in this article, we will answer your question “what to ask when an estimator check my house for solar panels?”

How Much do Solar Panels Save per Month

Generally, solar panels do save you money whether monthly or yearly, but how much, is a more complex question, a houses electricity needs differs from another house, to break it down we will need to depend on different factors, such as the direct hours of daily sunlight and the size and angle of your roof.

The easiest way to calculate how much do the panels can save you money is to check how much electricity you are currently spending, for example, the average American household spends $128 a month on electricity alone.

The next step is to consider what the utility rate will be in a month. Over the past decade, national electricity costs have increased around 2.2% annually, when you start generating your own energy with a solar energy system, you are putting the energy cost at a constant rate and you will see a significant difference in utility rate variables.

Will I still have an electric bill after installing solar panels?

Installing solar panels does not necessarily mean that the electricity bill will go away entirely, as long as your property remains connected to the grid, you will receive an electricity bill.

However, this does not mean you will always be paying money on it, with the in some state there is a policy which make the energy that you produce with solar panels that you do not use is automatically sent to the grid for credits on your electric bill as a return.

It will also allow you to draw electricity at nighttime without the need to pay extra money for it.

How many Watts do I need with Solar Panels, and How many Panels do I need?

The number of solar panels needed for your home depends on your average household energy consumption, the size of your home, sunlight exposure, and your home appliances such as heating and cooling systems.

As for how many watts, you can calculate that by looking through your utility bill, you should be able to see kilowatt-hours (KWH). This unit will differ depending on your location, for example, the southern states’ homes are likely to draw more amounts of energy from air conditioner units than the northern states’ homes.

In the table below we will list 4 common home sizes with the average energy consumption and the number of panels needed.

Home SizeAverage Energy Consumption a MonthAmount of solar panels needed
1500 sq feet633 kWh14-17
2000 sq feet967 kWh19-25
2500 sq feet1,023 kWh24-30
3000 sq feet1,185 kWh27-38

How to Size your Solar Panel System

There are 5 factors to determine the size of your solar panel system that you need:

  1. Energy Consumption:
  2. to determine the power consumption, list all electrical appliances and devices that are used in your home each day to give you a clear reading of how many kiloWatts you are using daily.

  3. Sun Hours Per Day
  4. since the solar panels depend on the sunlight rather than the heat, it is necessary to know how many hours of direct sunlight will be exposed to the panels throughout the day, depending on your location.

    Generally, during the winter season the sunlight can last for 4 hours, and 8 hours during the summer season.

  5. The Number of Solar Panels
  6. in most cases the size of the panel refers to its rated electricity output potential, solar panels can also have different voltage ratings depending on the size.

  7. Storage Battery sizing and Solar Charge Controller
  8. to make sure the excess solar energy produced by the panels will not go to waste, having a storage battery is a wise and efficient decision to store this energy to be used during night-time, with less sunlight, and blackout.

    these batteries also come with a solar charge controller to make sure the batteries will not be overcharged or send their chargeback through the solar panels during times of low sunlight.

How to Choose the Right Solar Panel and Battery?

When it comes to choosing the right battery, there are certain aspects to evaluate:

  1. Capacity and Power
  2. capacity is basically the total amount of electricity the solar battery can store, power on the other hand gives you the full picture of how much electricity a battery can provide at a given moment.

    to explain it in a simpler way, a battery with a high capacity and low power rating will produce a low amount of electricity, and a battery with low capacity but a high-power rating could provide your entire home energy for only a short time.

  3. Round-Trip efficiency
  4. this represents the amount of energy that can be used from the amount of the stored energy.

  5. Battery Life and Warranty
  6. the more you use the battery, the more of its ability to hold a charge will decrease, they are similar to the phone batteries in functionality, the older the phone the more you notice its battery is not holding as much of a charge as it did when it was brand new.

    as for the battery’s warranty, it will guarantee a certain number of cycles and years of useful life, since the battery performance degrades over time, most manufacturers will guarantee that the battery will store a certain amount of its capacity over the course of the warranty.

As for choosing the right solar panels, there are two types of panel materials. Monocrystalline which is more efficient and less affordable than polycrystalline, comes in dark blue or black tint color panels, polycrystalline material on the other hand is more affordable and comes in the light blue color panel.

fiber optic solar panels considered a great option as well if you do not mind the high upfront cost of the fiber optic lighting installation, it will enhance the productivity of the electricity for your system.

Most homeowners do not prefer fiber optic panels because of the high cost, but once this technology becomes more widespread, it will become a more viable option for most properties and more affordable.

the panels’ functionality is the same, you might like to check a certain brand that you like and schedule an estimate with them.

Can I Rely on Solar Panels in a Blackout?

Solar panels in blackout will work perfectly only if you have the designed power inverter to provide it, although it can still be limited, to fix this issue you will need a solar battery to provide you solar battery. They basically store excess power produced by your solar panels and manage it to be used in blackouts, night-time, and cloudy days.

It is also important to understand the limits of these batteries, despite the solar batteries are becoming more common, they are quite expensive for most homes and businesses.

without the solar batteries, the solar panels will not be able to work during a power outage.

Solar Panel Series and Parallel Connection

To have the full idea about how the solar panels are connected, there are two ways of wiring the panels together

  1. Wiring in series:
  2. the wiring from the terminal will connect all panels like a string, for example, if you had 3 panels in a series and each was rated at 10 volts and 5 amps, the entire array would be 30 volts at 5 amp.

  3. Wiring in parallel:
  4. basically, means connecting all the positive terminals of all solar panels together and the negative terminals of all the panels together as well, for example, if you had 3 solar panels in parallel and each was rated at 10 volts and 5 amps, the entire array will be 10 volts at 15 amps.

The main thing to remember is that when it comes to wiring series, it will increase your voltage, and when wiring parallel, it will increase your amperage, it is important to consider both of these variables to find the best inverter to install for your system.

How to Maintain Solar Panels

solar panel maintenance requirements are very low if not close to none, however, there is a possibility that dirt, leaves, and even snow on solar panels can block a portion of sunlight needed to produce energy, so a periodic light cleaning can be put to order.

If your panels are tilted, rainfall can clear the dirt and debris away, but during the dry season it is important to clean them manually, two or four times a year can be enough, a leaf blower or a quick spray with a garden hose can clean them into a top condition.

In winter however it is advisable to never use hot water when clearing the snow off the panels, tempered glass can be damaged in extreme temperature disparity, make sure the water is warm at its best to clear the snow away.

the estimator can give you more information about the type of chemicals used to clean the panels as well.

Solar Panels and Fire Risk

Fire hazards cases that are connected to the solar panels are so rare, especially within the states, these rare cases were caused by not installing the panels properly which leads to electrical arcing and faulty wiring.

The solar panels themselves do not cause fires, most of the modules are tested by laboratories which subjects them for everyday use before they are certified.

Should I buy Solar Panels Now or Wait?

When you calculate solar panel needs, you might think if you should really buy the solar panels right now or wait for them to be more affordable.

buying them now is a wise decision than later to save up as much utility bill as possible, the prices for the hardware might decrease generally but the installation cost will remain the same.