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Shifting to solar is an excellent way to save energy costs and your solar panel system will yield significant savings for about 25 years by using the sun’s clean, renewable power. Once you’ve decided to make the switch to solar, be sure to do your research so that you don’t make any expensive missteps.

To help you get on the right track, we put together a list of the seven common mistakes homeowners make when investing in solar energy. 

Mistake #1: Thinking that investing in solar is too costly

While it’s true that any solar power system or technology requires an up-front investment, switching to renewable energy is one of the most cost-effective home modifications you can make considering the money you’ll save in the long run compared to powering your home with fossil-based fuels.

In addition, the security that comes with making a sustainable decision like switching to solar energy for the home is priceless. Perhaps the greatest benefit of switching to solar energy is the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re contributing much less to the harmful fossil-fuel emissions warming the planet and bringing climate change.

To find out how to take advantage of the savings that solar power offers, talk to one of our solar energy specialists.

Mistake #2: Not taking advantage of tax credits and other financial incentives

When making the switch to solar, homeowners sometimes miss the opportunity to save 30% of the initial investment into their solar installations.

The Federal Residential Solar Energy Credit is a tax credit that can be claimed on federal income taxes (during the tax year the system installation was completed) for a percentage of the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system paid for by the homeowner.

Currently, the tax credit is 30% for installations completed between 2022-2032. It will decrease to 26% for systems installed in 2033 and to 22% for systems installed in 2034. The tax credit expires starting in 2035 unless Congress renews it.

In addition to the federal program, other incentives are available, depending on where you live. In the North Bay, the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program is available to Sonoma County residents. It allows homeowners to purchase “renewable electrical improvements” – such as solar energy systems – that cost up to 10% of their property’s value. The financing will be repaid at a fixed interest rate of 7% over a period of 10 or 20 years.

There is also the PACE Program (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Financing, which is available to all homeowners and businesses.  Similar to SCEIP, participating cities will finance the cost of the system, which is paid back through property taxes.

It can be difficult to figure out which incentives you are eligible for. Our specialists can point you to the resources you need. If you have questions regarding the best solutions for you, don’t hesitate and get in touch!

Mistake #3: Not monitoring your system

Many homeowners think of going solar as a “set it up and forget it” situation. Once their PV system is installed, they don’t really contemplate what’s happening on the roof.

To make sure your system is producing as expected and that you’re getting the most out of your money, monitoring your system is crucial. To keep an eye on how efficiently your solar energy generation system is operating, all SolarCraft solar power installations come with monitoring so you can easily track your system performance using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Mistake #4: Believing that solar is a bad investment

It’s no secret that investing in solar isn’t cheap. Some homeowners look at the initial costs of going solar and think that they’d be throwing their money away. Actually, the opposite is true.

Investing in solar is a four to five-figure outlay. That’s a big commitment. But electricity from the power company definitely isn’t cheap, and PG&E prices are escalating rapidly. In reality, when you consider the long-term value of owning a solar system, most grid-tied systems pay for themselves fairly quickly and make you a profit over the life of the system.

You might be wondering how solar panel systems pay for themselves. Through the combination of solar incentives (such as tax credits and rebates) and electric bill savings, you can recoup your investment in five to 10 years. The average solar installation produces energy for 25+ years, so in the last 15 to 20 years of the life of your system, you’ll see a significant return on your investment as you produce free energy from the sun.

Mistake #5: Expecting your home to have electricity during a power outage

Your PV system is generating power whenever it’s sunny outside, so the lights should stay on during a daytime power outage, right? Unless you also have a battery backup system, no, your lights won’t stay on during an outage.

Your panels are the source of the energy, but any surplus is fed into the public utility grid for later use. Because there is no means to bring electricity from the grid to your home during a power outage, you will be left in the dark whenever the grid loses power.

The way to solve this problem is to add backup batteries to your PV system. When the public utility power is on, your system performs just like any other grid-tied solar system. In the event of a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff or grid outage, your home will seamlessly stay powered by drawing power from your backup batteries. 

It’s an additional investment, but the peace of mind is well worth it, especially if you live in a North Bay area such as Napa or Sonoma county with severe weather, spotty utility service, or frequent public safety power shutoffs due to fire hazards.

Mistake #6: Believing solar panels can only be used on your roof 

Some homeowners don’t tap into the power of the sun because they don’t want a solar panel installation on their roof, or their roof is not an ideal location to capture the sun’s rays. If you don’t want to see solar panels on your roof, or if your roof doesn’t get much sun, don’t give up on solar energy. There might be a different location on your property that will work.

In the North Bay, especially Sonoma and Napa counties, it’s typical that there’s a little-used outdoor space that is just perfect for ground-mounted panels. Or, you might consider building a solar carport or solar gazebo.  

Check out the video here (second video on page) from a partner company which features a SolarCraft ground mounted solar system behind a home in Tiburon.

Could a non-traditional solar installation be the right solution for you? We can help you find answers. Talk to one of our solar energy experts today.

Mistake #7: Doing it yourself

You know that stereotype of a husband and wife debating about whether to call a plumber to fix their pipes? The husband insists he can save money by fixing it himself, but he ends up making the problem worse. And when the wife finally brings a plumber in, fixing the problem is far more expensive than it would have been if the couple had worked with an expert in the first place.

That happens in the solar sector, too. Not necessarily the stereotypical battle of the sexes part. But definitely the “I can do it myself for less” part.

Haphazardly putting together your own solar panel system might be the worst solar mistake of all. Not only is it expensive for an expert solar energy team to undo your bad deeds, installing solar equipment incorrectly can create dangerous conditions.

You could end up with a box of mismatched components that nobody will support because it was bought from all over the Internet, inverters that are undersized for your panel output, panels of varying sizes that don’t fit together on the mount, components that don’t wire together due to different connectors, or a power center missing essential components like circuit breakers/disconnects, a remote control, and monitoring hardware.

You could end up with a system that doesn’t work. Or, worse, you might build a system that overloads and fries your home’s wiring or creates a fire hazard.

Ready to make a smooth switch to solar?

If you’re considering going solar but don’t want to make costly mistakes or create headaches, SolarCraft can definitely help! We empower homeowners to make a hassle-free transition to renewable, solar energy and reduce their energy costs.

Contact us today to get started.