Is My House Good For Solar?

Some homes are better suited for solar electricity than others, but every home can have solar panels installed on it.

It does depend on how much you're willing to change your situation, if the situation is not ideal.  Even if we installed solar electrical systems on the 25% of homes that are completely ideal, wouldn't that make the world better?  Of course it would!

The factors that most determine a home's ability to produce its own solar energy have much to do with its orientation and angle, as well as shading.  Solar panels will work anywhere, but they need to be in a place where they can receive direct sunlight, year round.

Trees can shade your panels, causing your system to lose power somewhat.  So can other obstructions on your roof, such as vent pipes and chimneys.

  • Are your shingles in good shape?
Don't get solar if your roof is all busted and your chimney is falling down.  Fix your chimney and replace your roof before you consider getting solar panels, otherwise every installer is going to look at your house and say, "No way!  We're not going to be responsible if there's a problem with it leaking because of your old, cruddy roof."

  • Is your house's electrical system sufficient?
If your home contains wire that is insulated with cloth, then chances are you need to have an electrician come in and rewire your house.  If your service panel looks like a ball of yarn that your cat was playing with, then you need to have your house rewired.  However, there is a general rule about service panels which determine whether your house is OK for solar.  

  • Is your house facing the right way? 
If the axis of your house runs in such a way that your roof surfaces face east and west, instead of north and south, it will compromise your energy somewhat.  For a list of those factors in the northeast part of America, check out this efficiency table:

this information is from NREL

As you can see with this table, if your house faces East and it's at a 30° angle, your solar array will only be able to produce 85% of what it's rated for.  If your roof can fit 4kw of panels, then, you can only expect your power to be 85% of 4kw at max, which is 3.4 kilowatts.  That's not too bad, anyways, for a roof that many professionals will tell you is facing the wrong way. 

It's not facing the wrong way, exactly.  It's just not facing the ideal way.  But that's okay, you can still get a system.  This chart just tells you what to expect. 

You can survey your own home for solar! 

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