So is your home a good candidate for solar power, and what is involved? Firstly, you need to take a look at what direction the roof faces. The usual solar cell installation is on the roof, and you need to have it pointing towards the South to get the best exposure. If you don’t have a roof with a typical pitch, or angle, for instance if you have a flat roof, that could cause a problem using the typical components of a solar installation.
You also need to have a look at your roof during the day to see if it gets the full sun, or whether it is shaded by trees or nearby buildings. This might change with the season, as the sun is much lower in the sky during the winter months. Again, not getting good exposure to the sun mat cause a problem, or mean that you have to reconsider how to arrange your solar panels.
You next need to check with your utility company to see how far they have got with implementing the net metering laws, so that you can use a meter that goes both ways, feeding electricity back into their lines when you have too much. Some States are still working out the details for this. You may find that there are rules about how much power the utility company must accept from you and other customers – rules to protect the utility company from suddenly being overwhelmed with a surge of electricity that it can’t use or cope with.
You will also need to contact your local authority and homeowners’ association, and see if you need to file an application for permission with them to put the cells on your roof. You need to be sure that you are clear to do the installation so that neighbors can’t come back later and complain! Generally the panels are fairly unobtrusive, but it may depend on what arrangement you need to make.
All the foregoing assumes that you want to be involved with the solar power installation. If you choose to use a contractor that can do the complete installation, he can do all this checking for you, and should know the local circumstances – but bear in mind that he may be mainly an installation guy, and these are areas that he deals with because he has to, not because he wants to. You’ll probably need to use a contractor to do the electrical connections for reasons of safety.
Finally, you could also take the route of contacting a solar rental company who will undertake the whole job for a small deposit and charge you a rental fee – this method of getting a solar power installation is becoming increasing available and more popular.