You’re ready to put your chips on the table, but . . .
Even if the benefits outweigh the costs overall, particularly when you look at the bigger picture, it’s always wise to know the potential problems. Initial costs can be high, weather can be fickle, and regulation can be a double-edged sword.
1. That first step can be expensive
If you’re considering going solar at home you need to have the cash ready to do so. But with water heaters costing in the thousands, and solar photovoltaic home systems costing in the tens of thousands, it can be difficult to secure funding.
2. Fluctuating prices
The costs of going solar can change significantly from year to year, and the various government incentives can also change depending on who’s in charge. Keeping a weather eye on both the market and politics is important if you want to get the best prices.
3. Timing is crucial
Not only is it crucial for getting the best installation prices, but also in your eventual power generation. Solar panels typically peak their electrical production at times when the house doesn’t need much energy.
4. Speaking of weather . . .
The weather should play a significant role in your decision-making. How much you can realistically expect to gain from a full set of expensive solar PV panels will be dictated by the total amount of sunshine you get every year. Maximize efficiency through careful placement.
5. What can you do about inconvenient weather or energy timing?
One thing is to use a solar water heater rather than photovoltaic panels. That way you don’t need to worry about wasting that energy. Another idea could be to use the panels to charge batteries that can be used later on.
6. Once you’ve decided, there’s still the red tape
There are lots of building regulations that you need to adhere to if you don’t want the embarrassment and cost of having to pull down your shiny new, eco-friendly power generating system. Use qualified contractors and get in touch with the appropriate planning agencies.
7. It pays to be on good terms with neighbors.
Let’s face it, not everybody likes seeing solar panels on their street, and some people feel it’s blighting their slice of domestic paradise. So make sure you sound out the opinions of the community you live in before committing completely.
8. Watch out for cowboy contractors
Be sensible and hire only qualified contractors. Or, if you want to DIY, make sure you understand the rules and regulations surrounding the complex electrical systems involved in the process. Oh and make sure you get the worked checked and okayed by inspectors.
9. Even when it’s built, you might need to adjust your energy use habits
The classic scenario is that in the morning kids get ready for school, adults for work. Hot showers are taken, lights turned on, breakfast is cooked. In the late afternoon/evening, the same thing happens. Remember that solar power generally peaks when the house does not need much energy.