Did you know that according to SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) 2015, the solar energy industry surpassed the natural gas industry in capacity additions, which is important because it translates to solar energy providing “29.5 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2015.” And as the concept of solar energy continues to increase in popularity as the industry itself continues to thrive and produce results beyond what was expected of it, the number of businesses and homeowners interested in investing in solar panels continues to grow as well.

But just as with any investment you make, and solar panels are indeed an investment, it’s always wise to do your share of research before committing yourself to a decision. So before you make that call to a solar energy qualified roofer, let’s cover some of the basic questions you should ask yourself before installing solar panels on your roof.

What you need to know before installing solar panels:

  1. Is your roof a structurally sound candidate for solar panel installation?

Factors to consider when determining if your roof is structurally strong enough to support the sizeable addition of solar energy system include: the material from which your roof is constructed (i.e. metal, shingles, slate, wood, etc.) and whether it can withstand such pressure and weight, the condition and age of your roof, and proximity of the roof to trees. Consult with your roofing contractor over the question of whether your roof is a contender for solar panels based on these factors.

  1. Does your roof receive enough sunlight exposure to qualify for solar? California homes and businesses are ideal candidates for solar panels since we do receive so much sun throughout the year, however this doesn’t guarantee that your roof is exposed to adequate amounts of sun before investing in solar panels. A certified solar energy contractor or roofer can help decide the solar energy potential of your roof upon a quick inspection and energy audit.
  2. Are you able to find ways of maximizing the efficiency of your energy use in relation to how much solar energy your system is able to produce? Speaking of energy audits, have you considered performing your own energy audit as a way of identifying how your family can improve upon your energy consumption? By cutting back on inefficient energy practices you can maximize the savings of a solar panel installation.
  3. Have you considered the two main types of solar energy and which type will make the most sense for your needs? While you may not need to know the granular details behind solar energy, it helps if you are at least familiar with the two basic types of solar energy systems available; namely, solar thermal energy and photovoltaic solar energy. When it comes to solar panels, we are most likely dealing with different sources of photovoltaic material including,

Amorphous silicon

Cadmium telluride

Copper indium gallium selenide

Organic photovoltaic cells

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of several solar energy companies to get a solid idea of which system is best for your home.

  1. Are you investing in solar panels that are protected with agreeable terms in the contract, especially the details behind the ownership guidelines, manufacture’s warranty, whether you are going to lease or buy the panels, etc.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to ask questions when it comes to the finances and fine print of the contract before you commit to anything. Have you decided whether you will lease or own your solar panels? What about the terms of the warranty or if there ever were to be damage accrued to the panels themselves, and what are the specific terms of the owner’s responsibility?

  1. Have you found a trustworthy and experienced roofer who is trained and certified to install solar energy systems?

Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself before installing your solar panels, is have you found a well-qualified installer to perform the technical job of installing solar panels on a roof, thus requiring both electrical and roofing expertise? Be sure to find a trustworthy and experienced roofing contractor like Yorkshire Roofing and Solar when installing solar panels this year.