Your Guide to Going Solar

Going solar is by far the best way for an average homeowner to help fight climate change. After all, Switching to Electric is only beneficial if the source of that electricity is green energy. 

And while utility companies across the world are working frantically to get a higher percentage of renewable energy onto the grid over the next couple of decades, installing solar panels on your roof can get you 100% of the way there (or even more) in just a matter of weeks. 

But installing solar panels on your home is a big step and one that can quickly get very complicated. Electricity itself is a deep mystery for most of us, and that’s before you even get into the nuances of net metering, SRECs, power purchase agreements, interest rates, and let’s not forget the good old US tax code.

And then there’s the question of what happens when you try to sell a house that has solar panels on it. Do solar panels make it easier to sell or more difficult? And is it true that solar panels can increase the value of your home?

There are lots of different ways to go solar, none of which is necessarily the “right” or “wrong” way, despite what you might have heard from your know-it-all neighbor. For some people, buying is the best option. You’ll typically save more money over time than with a lease or a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), and you may be eligible for certain state and federal tax credits.

But not everyone is eligible for those tax credits and, more to the point, not everyone has the kind of money lying around to pay out-of-pocket for a solar system. You can take out a solar loan but interest rates are high at the moment and most people don’t fully understand how solar dealer fees can negatively affect the overall cost of going solar.

Going Solar With a PPA

So the most popular programs are usually the ones that offer to put panels on your roof for zero upfront cost. That’s either a lease or a PPA. The terms are often used interchangeably but they are slightly different. But broadly speaking, they replicate the relationship homeowners currently have with their utility company.

Just as the utility company owns the infrastructure of poles, wires, transformers, and meters and only charges customers for the power they use, a PPA means that the solar company retains ownership of the panels, inverters, charge controllers and switches, and only charges customers for the power they generate.

That power is sold at a significantly lower rate than the “legacy” utility companies are charging, often with additional protection against future price increases, too. Over time, the savings don’t only add up but they compound, as well. A typical homeowner saving $40-$50 a month on their power bill can see those savings balloon to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a PPA agreement.

But while popular, a PPA isn’t always the best way to go. It depends on each homeowner’s individual circumstances. And it’s important to understand that with a PPA, that it’s the solar company, as the owner of the system, that gets the tax credits and passes them on to the customer in the form of a lower rate.

And then there’s the option of going solar without using panels at all, either by signing up for a solar program with a third party or by installing solar shingles or some other kind of solar roofing materials.

Solar Shingles Are An Attractive Alternative To Panels When You'Re Thinking About Going Solar
The Ultimate Guide To Going Solar 2

Here we’ll explore all the various ways a homeowner can go solar. We’ll walk you through the process, from solar site survey to PTO, and we’ll rank and review the best solar companies out there from giants like Sunrun and Sunnova to the small local companies in your area. That way you can choose the best solar partner and make the right decisions for your specific circumstances.We’ll also walk you through the various solar incentives that are out there to help you to defray the costs and we’ll let you know what what to expect should you decide to schedule a solar consultation.