Do your own solar prep

Anne BrockOur Town Outdoors

So, you’re thinking about solar for your home or office, but you wonder if it’s right for you? Here are some simple steps to get started in your exploratory process:

Today’s solar modules typically come with a 25+ year warranty. It makes sense to have them installed on a roof that has a similar lifespan. What is the condition of your roof? Are you considering needing a new roof within the next couple of years?

Ideally, rooftop solar will be on a south-facing roof that is not shaded. The solar modules should not interfere with plumbing and vent pipes. An ideal roof pitch is between 5/12 and 8/12. If your pitch is not ideal, or if you have a flat roof, there are alternative installation options. What is your roof’s orientation and pitch?

How much solar energy could you produce? The federal government offers a free online calculator here called PV Watts, which gives you a rough estimate of what various system sizes could generate for you. This could give you a broad idea of whether it makes sense to pursue having a solar professional fine-tune the data and use more advanced software to create an estimate of solar production.

If considering a ground-mounted system, is this the best use of resources for you? For electric vehicle charging or to add shaded parking spaces, a solar canopy may make sense. It can be an amenity for yourself, employees or customers. This may be your most costly option, yet federal incentives could help cover the cost and make it a benefit worth investing in.

Avoid pitfalls when choosing a solar installer, and be sure to ask for references while avoiding predatory lending. More here about what to ask before hiring a solar company.

Check here about your eligibility for a 30% federal tax credit when you install solar for your home or office, plus check here to see if your small business is in an area eligible for a 50% renewable energy grant.

Anne Brock is marketing coordinator for She can be reached at: 865-221-8349 or [email protected]


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