See How Solar Works and If It’s Right for You

Green Home

The sun has been the most energy-efficient power source in the solar system for about 4.6 billion years and counting. Clean and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are becoming increasingly popular, which is great for the environment. However, you may be wondering “how does it work?”

We’re glad you asked! Here are some key considerations that apply across the board to help you get started:

You’ll still be connected to the electric grid.

Your solar panel system can’t operate independently of the electric grid unless it’s specifically designed to provide backup power. Regardless of the sunlight levels, you’ll need to be connected to the grid. Also, all solar panels that are connected to the grid shut off during power outages as a safety precaution.

You could be compensated.

You can be compensated for the excess energy your solar panels generate that your home doesn’t immediately use. The compensation rate is set by regulators and current rates can be viewed online.

Essentially, the extra electricity your solar panels generate is used to power other customers, which we’ll pay you for — but only if that power goes to the grid.

Your home may direct your decision to install solar panels.

Installing solar panels isn’t as simple as installing a satellite dish. Some things to consider include: Are you planning on selling your home in the next few years? Solar panels are like an in-ground pool; some people love them and some people hate them. If you decide to take your panels with you, you’ll need a professional to do it.

Speaking of professionals, be sure to hire one to inspect your roof first to make sure it’s ready for panels. Certain characteristics of your home, like how steep your roof is, may impact your ability to install solar panels. Also, consider the condition of your roof. If you need roof work in the near future, it may make sense to complete repairs first to avoid taking panels down after installation.

Finally, check with your home insurance agent to see how solar panels may affect your premium.

You could save money. But how much?

There are many variables to consider, such as weather conditions, your household’s electricity use and the efficiency of your home. Be sure to calculate your up-front costs, monthly payments and potential savings. PSO doesn’t endorse any installers or solar manufacturers, so doing the homework upfront can really save you down the line.

If you decide to purchase a solar panel system, make sure to take advantage of state and federal tax credits. Also, keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for maintenance and repairs as well. It’s a lot to consider. Crunch the numbers with our solar calculator to see if it makes sense for your family.