Does PV make sense for you?

Rules-of-thumb when considering a solar PV installation

Is your typical monthly single-family residential utility bill over $100?  Check out PV.

In the detailed Electrical Charges section of your bill, do you see only the phrase “Baseline Usage?”  Probably not worth your while to pursue this further.

Do you see the two phrases, “Baseline Usage”  and “101 – 130% of Baseline”?  A PV system may or may not pay.  This will have to be evaluated based on your circumstances.

Do you see the phrase “131 – 200 % of Baseline” (or larger percentages)?  You should certainly be checking out PV as a money-saving opportunity.

One size does not fit all, so the above observations are made as general guidelines or “Rules of Thumb”.  Type of roof structure, type of roof surface, trees and other shade-producing objects, and other factors can all affect your cost and the resulting amount of benefit.

The decision to install a rooftop Photovoltaic (PV) system can seem a bit overwhelming and confusing.  It isn’t, and the economic benefits can be significant.  But there continues to be a lot of misinformation and outdated-information in the public mind.  We have encountered this too often when discussing PV benefits with homeowners at a variety of public events.

There are many websites by installers and others that will direct a consumer to a regional or local installer.  (See for example   CaliforniaSolar DOES NOT connect you to anyone.  We are not seeking revenue from a consumer’s decision.  Our intent is to provide guidance and reduce misinformation.

If you are seriously considering a solar PV installation, then most contractors will provide a free site-specific analysis.  But obtain AT LEAST 2 estimates.  We have heard of door-to-door salesmen offering special bargains (“We’re in the neighborhood”  or “We have an oversupply of panels”) where-in the price is as much as twice what it should be.  Not all of these are scams, but a second estimate will tell you whether you’re getting a truly good deal or not.


Related Resources:

  • SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power  – A free online guide for residential consumers from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) about the basics of solar energy and ownership options. The guide explains the financing options available, and includes key questions to ask solar installers before entering a transaction, contracting terms to be aware of, and other useful tips for potential solar customers.

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