Top 10 Myths About Solar Electric for The Home

  1. You Can Get an Accurate Quote over the Phone.  Pricing a Solar Electric System requires detailed measurements of the roof and positioning of your home - combined with an analysis of the utility electric tariff structures in your area and your consumption patterns.  While many assumptions can be made to come up with a quick assessment of the price, there is no substitute for having a qualified solar installer visit your home.
  2. The Bigger the System the Better.  Depending on the size of the roof, the typical home can accommodate a system from 2-8kW in size.  If you build a system that is above your needs it will generate excess electricity for which the local utility will not give you credit. 
  3. Solar System is Zero Maintenance.  Solar panels need some type of cleaning every few months to remove dust and other particles which will reduce performance over time.
  4. Key Equipment Will Last 30+ Years.  The performance of most solar modules is guaranteed for between 25-30 years.  However, the complete solar electric system also includes an inverter which converts the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) used in your home.  Inverters, which make up 10% of the total cost, typically last 10 years and will need to be replaced a few times (potentially) over the life of the solar system.
  5. System Price is Everything.  Competition among solar installers is intense and price is a major issue.  Homeowners should consider what they are getting if they select the lowest bidder for an installation.  The installation process requires engineers to attach the solar array to the roof of your home; homeowners should ensure that the installer has a valid insurance policy in the event that the roof is damaged or begins to leak; installer warranties are typically five years.  Simple questions you should ask yourself include will your installer be around for a long time and how experienced is the installer crew.
  6. Leasing a System is the Cheapest Way to Go.  Various lease financing options are now available for installing solar and some even offer zero $ down pricing options.  Things to think about include; what happens in the event you sell your home during the lease period, is there a price escalator in the lease and how much will the system cost at the end of the lease?  One of the major benefits of owning a solar electric system is that it protects the homeowner from significant increases in electricity prices in the future.  If your system is leased, and you have to pay a large “residual” price for the system at the end of the lease period – this benefit goes away. 
  7. All Solar Mounting Systems are Made Equal.  There are a number of ways to attached a solar array to the roof of your home, depending on the type of roof (flat versus sloped) and the type of roofing material (shingle, slate, tile).  Ask your installer about the system they plan to use on your roof and what there experience is with the product.
  8. All Incentive and Rebates are Tax Fee.  Solar incentives now come in a variety of forms including Federal, State/Utility and local.  Each attracts a different tax treatment and you should be sure to check with your installer and tax advisor to ensure you understand the (after-tax) $ discount you are expecting. 
  9. Once Installed, You Can’t Make any Changes to the System.  This is actually not the case.  Solar is modular.  If you have a meaningful change in electric consumption (i.e. have a few more children In the home or buy and electric car), additional solar panels can be added to the system assuming there is sufficient room on the roof and the inverter is large enough.   
  10. Solar Will Not Work for My Home Due to its Location.  Successfully deploying solar is highly dependant on location – many people assume they are in the wrong place.  Many parts of the States are subject to unique micro climates that may make solar viable; these include areas near the coast, in the mountains, or in colder parts of the northwest and northeast.