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5 Things to Know Before Installing Solar Panels

Green Bolt

Installing solar panels on your home or commercial property could mean huge cost savings for you in the future. It’s also a good way to cut down on your carbon footprint. Here are a few things you’ll want to know before you go ahead with installing solar panels.

Installing solar panels


Solar has both financial and environmental benefits.  According to earthruns.org, 1 kWhr of electricity produced by solar will save 1.34 pounds of C02.  By installing solar panels you are setting the right example and reducing CO2 in our atmosphere.  Your property value will increase after installing solar panels.  You will be eligible for a federal tax credit in addition to whatever state solar credits may be available to you.

Incentives for Installing Solar Panels 

The (ITC) Federal Solar Tax Credit is worth 30% of a solar system’s cost.  In New Jersey, there is also an SREC program.  An SREC stands for Solar Renewable Energy Certificates.  The Board of Public Utilities mandates that utility companies must produce a certain amount of renewable energy or they pay a fine.  To avoid that fine, they pay solar producers a credit for every 1,000 kWhrs their system produces.  The solar producer will get thousands of dollars over time by selling their SRECs on a marketplace. This is in addition to whatever they use or don’t use.  It is an extra incentive simply based on production thanks to the fact that you went ahead with installing solar panels.

For a complete list of available incentives for installing solar panels in New Jersey check out Dsire.org,  here.

Purchasing Options for Installing Solar Panels  

Many people will purchase their solar systems outright.  This will require an outlay of capital, but in New Jersey an average ROI is somewhere between 4-7 years.  This ROI is met by subtracting the utility savings, tax credit, and SREC income from the total system cost. Most people however actually pay $0 for their installation through a solar lease or solar loan.  With a solar loan, you can take advantage of all of the tax benefits for $0 down.  You will make a monthly payment but still be cash flow positive because of the electric savings and incentives.  A lease is similar.  You pay a lower amount monthly for the power from the solar on your roof rather than from the utility.

Those considering installing solar panels soon should check out the Programs For You section of our website.

Installing Solar Panels and Site Considerations

Not every site is conducive for solar panels.  To make sure your site is qualified, a solar installer will generally give a pre-qualification over the phone.  A solar installer may also conduct a further survey inside the home.  The installer will get on the roof with a “sun-eye” during this survey.  The sun-eye connects to satellites and develops an exact shading estimate for the site.  The surveyor will also determine the condition of the roof.  In general, you will need more than 80% solar access to be qualified, and if your roof is older than 15 years old you should consider reroofing beforehand.

Process of Installing Solar Panels 

Installing solar panels is very, “hurry up, and wait.”  The average time between sign up and installation is approximately 3 months.  In this time frame your solar company will be submitting for permits, applying with the utility company, and ordering materials.  After the contractor has proper approvals, the installation is usually only a couple days.  You should be aware that even after the installation is complete it may take another few weeks to get the Approval to Operate from the utility.


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