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Are Solar Panels Right for Me?

On Monday, people around the world celebrated Earth Day–where they attended outdoor events, planted trees, and showed their support for the environment and our planet. In honor of Earth Day, today's blog focuses on the growing demand and need for alternative energy solutions for homeowners.  

Over the last decade, the solar market in the United States has grown at an average rate of 50% each year. There are nearly 2 million individual solar installations in the U.S., ranging from small home rooftop systems to large utility-scale systems that add hundreds of megawatts of clean electricity to the power grid. Solar energy is recognized as a "green" leader in the future of alternative energy sources. It produces no pollution, and it's ecologically acceptable. According to the SEIA, it is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. Today, improvements in new technology allow us to harness this power.

Different Types of Solar 

  • Photovoltaics (PV): converts light to electricity.
  • Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): uses heat from the sun (thermal energy) to drive utility-scale, electric turbines.
  • Heating and Cooling Systems: collect thermal energy to provide hot water and air conditioning.

PROS and CONS of Solar Energy 

 The Pros:

  • Lowers your electric bill
  • Improves the value of your home
  • Reduces your carbon footprint
  • Combats rising electricity costs

The CONS: 

  • Doesn't work for every roof type
  • Not ideal if you're about to move
  • Buying panels can be expensive
  • Low electricity costs = lower savings

After reviewing the above pros and cons of solar energy, there are some clear takeaways to be aware of:  

  • Rooftop solar panels aren't the perfect fit for everyone, but that's okay. Like any other home efficiency product, solar panels provide clear benefits to homeowners that are in need of energy upgrades and electricity bill reduction. Not everyone fits that description.
  • Solar energy should be thought of as an investment: a low-risk investment with major returns, but a hefty investment nonetheless.
  • The U.S. is moving towards clean energy, and solar is our cheapest option. There's nothing unclear about America's energy future: the U.S. is transitioning towards renewables and away from fossil fuels. Solar is the one of the most scalable, consumer-friendly solutions.

Three Fail-Safe tips for Solar Shoppers

1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes SAVE 10% or more!

As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.

2. BIGGER isn't always better!

A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don't overpay for solar.

Buyer BEWARE–A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry. Experts recommend getting quotes from smaller contractors that typically offer lower costs using a network like EnergySage.

3. The EQUIPMENT options are just as important!

There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn't always result in higher savings. The only way to find the "sweet spot" for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers. For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers upfront cost and long-term savings estimates based on your location and roof type.

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