We have decided to do our part to help the environment by purchasing a renewable energy system, how do we choose which one?
The first thing we have to do is determine if it is possible. Will our environment allow the use of solar, wind or hydropower? To check on suitability of solar power usage you can check out this solar estimator.
In most locations solar power is a viable option.
Lets try out the solar estimator. We will use Clifton Park NY zip 12065 as an example.
The first step is to select our state and then our county, which is Saratoga. We then select utility and the type of location, which is a business. Our type of solar system will be electric.
Lets see what we get. Ok great news, the location is suitable and we get a good solar rating of: 4.198 kWh/sq-m/day
Do not worry about all the numbers the estimator will do all the work.
In our next step we estimate our monthly usage, for simplicity I will use the monthly option and enter $100.00. This is a low number but a major part of the future process will be making sure we maximize electric and hot water usage.
Lets see what we get. First thing we do is change the percentage of use to 100% our goal is to live 100% of the grid.
Wow very detailed information, everything from cost to number of years to break even. One of the wonderful things about solar power is that you qualify for a large number of tax credits and rebates. The estimator even calculates in some of these into your total cost.
It estimates I need 700 square feet of solar panels, with a monthly payment of $137.00 if I financed it over 30 years.
But wait what about the property value appreciation? In fact it should take me less then two years to break even factoring in property value appreciation.
We now know it is financially feasible so lets find a qualified Solar Contractor. I click on “Find a Prescreened Solar Contractor” and am very pleased to see seven companies in the area.
There is company within ten miles of the local I entered, which has over ten years experience and two thousand commercial and residential installations.
Some keys to finding a good solar contractor are:
- References – Get references from past clients.
- Better Business Bureau – Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed.
- Local Government – Check with the local government to make sure they are licensed and or certified.
- Certification – Licensing is very important because in order to qualify for some tax incentives your solar contractor must be licensed by the state. Each state varies so do your research first.
Choose your solar contractor carefully. This is an investment that should last at least twenty-five years.
Finally, be prepared to jump through some hoops just like when you build any other structure. There will be questions about code and building permits and an experienced solar contractor will be able to answer these for you.