If you are interested in solar energy, one of your main questions will likely be how big of a system you will need. This is a complex question and is determined by more than just your home's energy consumption. Below are five factors that will affect the size of your solar panel system.
Your average Home Energy Consumption
The first calculation that most homeowners are concerned with is their total energy consumption. This can actually take some time and effort. You can begin by assessing your electrical bills for the past year and making an estimate regarding your future consumption based on them. You may also want to use an energy calculator to determine how much power various activities require so you can get a good idea of your future consumption. For example, if you plan to have children in the near future, your home power consumption will likely increase, and you should prepare for that.
What Purposes the Solar Panels Will Serve
Solar panels may be used simply to create electricity that can be used as you normally would use electrical power. However, they can also be used to heat water for radiant heating or for hot water usage. If you plan to use your solar panels for electricity and heating, then you may need a slightly bigger system than someone who plans to use their system solely for electricity. It is important to discuss the various types of solar systems available with your contractor to find one that will meet your most pressing needs.
Whether You Can Connect To the Local Power Grid
Some homeowners want to go completely off-grid with their solar panels. Others want a hybrid energy experience, using solar power to supplement their regular energy usage. Others prefer to farm solar energy and sell the energy back to the local power grid for future discounts or rebates. Which of these options are available to you will depend on the availability of adequate space on your property as well as the regulations for connecting your system into the local power grid. If you are not allowed to connect your system, you will likely opt for a smaller system. However, if you are allowed to connect your system, you may want to make the most of your usable space.
Your Current Financial Capabilities
The start-up cost for solar panel installation can be expensive, meaning that the size of your system may be limited by your current financial situation. However, it is important to realize that home loans will often cover the cost of solar panel installation and you may be eligible for tax credits or clean energy rebates after installing your system. This can make a system much more affordable for many homeowners. To get a more realistic overview of how large of a system you can actually afford, you may want to discuss your financial situation with a solar panel contractor. They will be able to inform you of ways you can finance your project and give you a realistic overview of your potential energy savings after installation to help you make an informed financial decision.
Whether You Plan to Lease or Buy
In some areas, it is possible to lease solar panels instead of paying for them yourself. In these cases, the company who installs the panels will still own them and you will pay a monthly fee for their use. This can make a larger system more affordable. However, companies may only lease to homeowners who agree to certain stipulations, such as connecting their system to the local energy grid, and the owner of the system will retain all rebates and financial incentives for the panels.
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