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Rooftop Solar: Basics, Benefits, and Costs. Rooftop solar for home

Rooftop Solar: Basics, Benefits, and Costs. Rooftop solar for home

    Solar Cheat Sheet: Your Complete Guide to Getting Solar Panels at Home

    Here’s where you can find the answer to all your solar panel questions, even those you didn’t know you had.

    Andrew Blok has been an editor at CNET covering HVAC and home energy, with a FOCUS on solar, since October 2021. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make Smart energy decisions. He’s a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.

    Stephen J. Bronner is a New York-based freelance writer, editor and reporter. Over his more than a decade in journalism, he has written about energy, local politics and schools, startup success tips, the packaged food industry, the science of work, personal finance and blockchain. His bylined work has appeared in Inverse, Kotaku, Entrepreneur, NextAdvisor and CNET, and op-eds written on behalf of his clients were published in Forbes, HR Dive, Fast Company, NASDAQ and MarketWatch. Stephen previously served as contributors editor and news editor for, and was the VP, Content and Strategy, at Ditto PR. He enjoys video games and punk rock. See some of his work at

    Over the past few years, the stars (particularly that big one at the center of our solar system) have aligned to make residential solar panels increasingly appealing for meeting your home’s energy needs.

    The rising costs of energy across the US, along with falling for solar panels aided by federal tax incentives, have simply made the economics of solar power not only attainable but beneficial for homeowners in the long run.

    If you looked at solar just a few years ago, costs have continued to come down since then, said Ben Delman, communications director at Solar United Neighbors. It depends on your situation, but more and more homeowners and families are deciding that solar makes sense for them as a way to save money by taking control over where their electricity comes from.

    Can solar panels save you money?

    Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.

    Below, we’ve collected CNET’s expert advice to get you through the solar panel purchasing process.

    In this article

    • How do solar panels work?
    • Is there a solar panel option that works for me?
    • How much do solar panels cost?
    • How much money will solar panels save me?
    • Can I install solar panels myself?
    • Where should I shop for solar panels?
    • How do I maintain solar panels?
    • Does solar work where I live?
    • Do I need a backup battery?
    • Does solar increase the value of my home?
    • Are solar panels a scam?
    • What is net metering?
    • Should I go solar?

    How do solar panels work?

    Buying a solar panel system means buying a lot of equipment the average person doesn’t have reason to know about. In the most basic terms, photons from the sun are absorbed by the solar panels and converted into direct current, or DC, electricity. For this energy to be used in American homes, it has to go through an inverter attached to the solar array to become alternating current, or AC, electricity.

    Can solar panels save you money?

    Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.

    Read up on what you’ll actually be buying with the stories linked below:

    • The Most Efficient Solar Panels
    • Solar Energy Basics: The Magic of Photovoltaic Panels
    • How Sand Becomes Solar Panels
    • Here’s How Solar Panels Turn Light Into Power
    • The Solar Panel Angle That’ll Generate the Most Energy Possible
    • Solar Panel Efficiency: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
    • What You Need to Know About Solar Inverters: Essential Solar Equipment
    • Solar Cell, Module, Panel and Array: What’s the Difference?
    • Bifacial Solar Panels Generate Electricity, but Not When You Put Them Here
    • What’s a Virtual Power Plant? Should You Join One?
    • How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel Produce?

    Is there a solar panel option that works for me?

    Fortunately for the solar-curious, many options exist for homeowners and even renters to get some or most of their electricity needs met with energy from the sun.

    The most common way to go solar for homeowners is the installation of panels on their roofs. These systems can be purchased directly through an installer (or assembled for the DIYers) as a large cash purchase or through relatively affordable financing (such as a 1.99% APR 15-year loan). There are also options for rooftop solar for those who may not have the capital to get a project started. These are solar leases, where a homeowner pays a fixed monthly cost to a company who retains ownership of a solar system; or a power purchase agreement, in which a homeowner pays for the electricity generated by solar panels rather than the system itself.

    Finally, both homeowners and renters in many places have access to community solar. This option allows people to opt in to a nearby solar farm to enjoy some energy savings.

    rooftop, solar, basics, benefits, costs

    How much do solar panels cost?

    The costs of solar panels will depend on a few factors, including where you live, how much of your energy needs you want the system to cover, whether you install it yourself and whether you want a battery (which could cost as much as the system itself). The average cost was about 3 per watt in 2022 for an 8 kW system through an installer, according to the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

    The way you pay for your system is vital. You’ll notice the biggest hit to your bank balance by paying for solar outright, while financing will spread the expense out over years but with added interest. A lease or PPA is most friendly to the budget-minded, but you won’t enjoy the long-term benefits that come with owning a system outright.

    How much money will solar panels save me?

    If you’re buying a system outright or financing it, you’ll receive a 30% tax credit through the Inflation Reduction Act.

    To get a better idea of when to expect a return on investment, look at how much energy you’ve consumed in the past year or two and how much it cost you. Then, working with an installer, figure out how much of your energy you’d like to offset with solar and how much the system will cost. Eventually, the savings from not having to buy electricity from your utility will be greater than the cost of the solar system itself.

    In terms of payback, broadly seven to 12 years is a decent average when you see returns from investment in solar after purchasing a system, Delman said.

    Can I install solar panels myself?

    It is possible to install most of a solar panel system yourself.- mounting the panels on your roof and connecting them to each other. But if your home is connected to a grid, you’ll need to hire a licensed electrician for the final connection needed to feed electricity to your utility.

    Another thing to keep in mind if you’re doing it yourself is whether the warranties for the panels that you purchase require them to be installed by a professional, Delman said. Often when people do it themselves, they’ll hire an electrician to do the finishing work so it can get certified. It’s also good if you’re not an expert to have somebody with expertise to just go over the wiring and make sure that everything is where it should be.

    Where should I shop for solar panels?

    If you want to buy panels directly, most hardware stores and larger retailers have them available. If you’d like to get them through a professional, a good place to start, according to Delman, is the website of your local solar industry association (for example, the New York Solar Energy Industries Association). These organizations should have a list of its members, which will often include installers and suppliers. Typically, installers work with one or two solar panel brands.

    Look for an installer who’s experienced, particularly with the kind of situation you have at your home, Delman said. Have they worked with the same roofing materials? Do you want a ground mount system installed? Check reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google and others, and get references too. (Solar United Neighbors also offers resources for going solar, free of charge.)

    The best way to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your solar panels is to get multiple quotes and ask as many questions of your potential installers as you need. CNET has reviewed many of the national solar companies, but it’s a good idea to check into local installers, too, who sometimes can offer lower prices.

    How do I maintain solar panels?

    Solar panel maintenance is generally minimal and fairly easy. Even so, we’ve got the info you need to keep your panels in the best possible shape.

    Does solar work where I live?

    Solar panels, in general, will work in a variety of climates, even those with frigid winters. The more important questions to ask are: Does my roof get adequate sunlight? Are any trees shading my roof? And most importantly, does my utility offer net metering?

    Net metering is perhaps the most important aspect of going solar, in that it stipulates that your energy utility will pay you for the energy created by your solar panels that you don’t consume. Net metering ensures that the return on investment in going solar is financially sound.

    Does solar increase the value of my home?

    Going solar has another benefit for homeowners: it can boost the price of their properties if and when they decide to sell. According to studies by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Zillow, homes with solar panels often sell for about 10,000 more compared to those that don’t.

    Are solar panels a scam?

    No. Solar panels are a proven technology that can help you shift some of your energy use to cheaper, greener electricity. But that doesn’t mean that scammy companies (while apparently rare) don’t exist. The company discussed in the story linked below recently went out of business, but a bit of caution is a good thing.

    What is net metering?

    Net metering.- the process by which you’re paid for electricity generated by your solar panels but sent back to the grid.- is a critical factor in whether homeowners should go solar.

    Let’s say during a beautiful sunny day, you’re at work, the lights, TV and dishwasher are off, so you’re probably generating more electricity from your system than you’re consuming, Delman said. When that happens, that electricity goes to the electric grid through your electric meter to be used by your neighbors. Net metering is what ensures you receive credit for that electricity so that your investment is still being paid back even if you’re not using the electricity yourself.

    You can see what your state’s policy toward net metering is here.

    Should I go solar?

    Solar won’t be an option for everyone. If your home does not receive adequate sunlight due to shading on your roof, you live in a state without net metering or there’s no community solar, going solar may not be viable for you.

    But with rising energy costs and the falling price of solar panels, for many people there’s never been a better time to go solar. There’s options to go solar that should fit most people’s needs, whether that’s through financing, a solar lease, PPA or community solar, that will allow them to start seeing savings on their energy bills almost immediately. By most estimates, a solar system starts paying for itself after between seven and 12 years.

    Powering your home with solar not only allows you to get your electricity from a clean source, but provides an unmatched return on investment that will save you money on your energy bills and boost the value of your home.

    Rooftop Solar: Basics, Benefits, and Costs

    As fuel skyrocket, homes and businesses are looking for new ways to lower their power bills. Most of which resorted to solar energy – the most popular renewable energy source worldwide.

    Solar energy use has rapidly grown in the US over the past years. The 2022 Solar Energy Industries Association report claimed that the US installed 20.2 GWdc of solar PV capacity. This reached 142.3 GWdc of total installed capacity which is enough to power 25 million homes. Solar accounted for 50% of new electricity-generating capacity, marking a historical high. Residential solar grew by 40%, while utility-scale solar faced challenges. The Inflation Reduction Act promises significant growth, with a projected 700 GWdc capacity by 2033.

    The increasing popularity of solar energy showcases the growing awareness regarding the significance of renewable energy sources. Solar panel systems are not just cost-effective. They also have a substantially lower environmental impact than conventional electricity sources. Solar energy also lets you decrease your carbon footprint and preserve valuable resources.

    Basics of Solar Rooftop Systems

    Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to absorb the sunlight and convert it into electricity. These PV cells contain conductive materials like silicon, which acts as a semiconductor. When sunlight strikes the cells, a chemical reaction releases electrons, generating an electric current.

    The key component of photovoltaic cells is layered doped silicon crystal-based semiconductor materials. The bottom layer, laden with boron, creates a positive charge. The top layer, which has phosphorus, generates a negative charge. An electric field forms at the P-N junction, where the layers meet.

    Sunlight exposure causes photons to knock electrons out of both layers, initiating electron flow due to the opposite charges. Electrons travel through an external circuit, controlled by the P-N junction, to produce usable electricity.

    However, the generated electricity is in the form of DC current, which is incompatible with home appliances. A solar inverter converts the DC current into AC. After which, the electricity can be safely used for various purposes. Concurrently, a solar meter tracks the solar rooftop power production and identifies potential issues. In essence, this process demonstrates how solar energy is transformed into usable electricity.

    There are three types of solar system installations—grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid. Grid-tied installation is the most common type wherein the panels are connected to the public power grid. The main benefit of doing this type of installation is that you can get net metering which will refund your energy bill with any excess solar-generated electricity.

    An off-grid installation is stand-alone that does not connect to the public power grid. This means that you’ll need to store energy from your solar panels in batteries and use it when needed. Hybrid is a combination of a grid-tied with the battery storage capacity of an off-grid system.

    Benefits of Rooftop Solar Energy Systems

    Homeowners and businesses can enjoy numerous benefits by installing solar panels on rooftops. Products like ChintGlobal AstroSemi and ChintGlobal AstroTwins are examples of rooftop solar solutions that can deliver these advantages.

    Financial Savings: Users can save on energy costs by generating their own electricity. Surplus solar electricity can also be sold back to electric companies giving homeowners additional income.

    • Increased Property Value: Rooftop solar installations can increase the value of a property. Potential buyers are attracted to homes and commercial buildings that come with solar energy since they come with reduced energy costs and a smaller environmental footprint.
    • Renewable Energy Source: Solar power is virtually limitless. As long as the sun shines, you can generate power. Thus, it does not deplete natural resources.
    • Reduced Carbon Emissions: By using rooftop solar energy systems, users can significantly reduce their carbon emissions. Solar power does not produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants after installation. This helps combat climate change and contributes to a healthier environment.
    • Versatility: Solar energy can be used for heating water, powering homes and buildings as well as charging electric vehicles. It’s also accessible in both rural and urban areas.
    • Water Conservation: Unlike other renewable energy sources, solar power does not require water. Thus, it helps in water conservation efforts and is a more sustainable option for electricity generation.

    Chint Global’s AstroSemi and Astro Twins for Rooftop Solar Solutions

    Both Chint’s AstroSemi and AstroTwins rooftop solar solutions are ideal for residential and commercial usage.

    The AstroSemi is available in a wide selection of dual panels that range from 320 up to 455W. It has a maximum system voltage of between 1,000 and 1,500 VDC.

    The AstroTwins range from 325 to 450W and has a maximum system voltage of 1,500 VDC. All products are constructed with thick glass and frames to ensure optimum durability in any environment.

    Both the AstroSemi and AstroTwins are highly efficient systems that are compatible with various other solar rooftop systems. Chint Global offers a large lineup of solar products that will help to optimize your home or business’s energy production. Our installation costs are very affordable and our products are specifically designed to last for the long term.

    Cost Considerations for Rooftop Solar Systems

    As with any sort of energy generation system, you can expect solar panel systems to come with a high initial investment.

    Solar panel system pricing depends on seven (7) factors. First, the type of installation influences costs; roof mounts are the most common, but ground mounts and carports may incur higher labor and component expenses. Secondly, the type of equipment impacts price. Panels with higher power density, different colors, or various inverter types (string, micro, and power optimizers).

    Thirdly, the roof type (metal, shingle, or flat) requires different components and labor levels. Fourth, energy consumption must be considered; systems are designed to offset energy use, but increased production necessitates more panels and equipment. Homeowners should find a balance between cost and energy production.

    Fifth, shading and weather impact system size and equipment. Full sun exposure allows for fewer panels, while shaded areas require more. Weather patterns should also be considered when designing systems. Sixth, interconnection costs vary based on the amount of solar power in the area, line equipment age and strength, and solar array size.

    Finally, the distance to the interconnection point affects costs due to conduit installation, trenching, and wire sizing. The farther the distance, the larger the wiring needed. As these factors can affect the overall installation cost, working with a professional solar installer for a custom quote is recommended.

    Currently, the government is offering incentives for those who are investing in clean energy generation systems. You’ll likely find both tax incentives and system rebates at the local, state, and even federal government levels, depending on your location. Your chosen system installer should be able to provide you with an installation quote and inform you about any incentives and rebates in your area.


    Solar rooftop systems can be the perfect way to help reduce your energy bills and increase your energy independence as a homeowner or a business owner. When selecting the right system to meet your needs, you want to ensure that you’re using a quality product that is built to last, such as Chint Global solar panel products. Now, making the investment toward a more sustainable and cost-effective future is at your fingertips with rooftop solar energy systems.

    A Complete Guide To Commercial Solar Panels

    Table of Contents The commercial solar panel industry has experienced inconsistent growth in recent years. This is primarily caused by the challenges in securing appropriate

    Is It Worth Investing in a Solar PV System?

    Table of Contents than a decade ago, solar panels were already gaining popularity as the next frontier of renewable energy. In the UK for

    Thinking of going solar?

    Try our solar system estimator tool to help evaluate your solar options.

    Solar for your home

    Thinking of going solar?

    Learn what you should consider and explore the many ways to finance a solar system.

    Solar customers

    Your rate depends on when your solar or battery system was approved for installation.

    Battery storage

    Store solar energy and use more of what you produce.

    Is solar right for me?

    The Solar System Estimator is an online tool that you can use to help determine the benefits of installing a rooftop solar system on your home.

    Use the tool to find your solar savings potential based on your rooftop characteristics, your electricity use, SMUD electricity rates and available tax credits and rebates.

    rooftop, solar, basics, benefits, costs

    Learn from our experts

    Installing a solar system on the roof of your home is a big decision. Not only is it important to understand how solar works, but it’s likely you have questions about cost, maintenance, repairs or even selecting a contractor to work with.

    Our experts on rooftop solar want to help you make an informed choice.

    Get real answers about solar. Watch this informative video to the right and start exploring your options today.

    Frequently asked questions

    Maintenance and repairs

    Do I need to do any maintenance? Little maintenance is required with a solar electric system other than washing the panels a few times a year to help keep the system operating at its best.

    Does having solar on my roof mean I am off the grid and not connected to electricity from SMUD? No. Having solar on your roof does not mean you are off the grid. While it is possible to design a system to produce all your power and enable your home to be off the grid, we do not recommend that you install a system that large.

    What happens at night when the sun is down? Do I still get electricity? At night, or on very stormy days, a conventional solar electric system goes dormant. During these dormant times, you will get power from the electricity grid. When the sun comes back out, the system resumes producing energy. If you don’t use all the electricity that you are producing at that moment, you can sell the excess electricity generated back to SMUD.

    What happens at the end of my contract if I’m in a lease or PPA ? Contact your solar provider to discuss the terms and conditions of your lease or PPA.

    Site and product selection

    How can I tell if my house will be a good fit for solar? The typical home will need to have a southern-facing roof with little or no shade. East and west facing roofs also are viable, but their output is decreased by 12%-15% or more over the course of a year. A perfect slope for your roof would be 25% to 30%. While a solar electric system will produce power at a wide variety of slopes and orientations, it is important to try to maximize your output in relation to the size of the system. The best orientation is usually south, then west, then east. Of course, shading can impact all of those decisions.

    How can I calculate the size of the solar electricity system I would need? The size of your system should be based upon your electricity usage patterns, not the size of your roof. There are many variables that determine your system’s production, for example slope, orientation and shading. For more information, click here for the solar estimator.

    Besides the basic warranty, price service questions, what are the other questions I should ask? Always try to get an idea of what is going to be produced by the system. While it is impossible to predict the weather and its impact on the output of your system, there are formulas to determine expected output.

    Will my roof leak or do I need to re-roof my home? It’s not often that your roof leaks. Newer mounting systems have improved resistance to leaks. Your solar electric system will be on your roof for at least 20 years so your roof should be in a condition to last that long.

    Can I put it someplace else on my property other than my roof? Yes, many properties have large lots or acreage to accommodate ground-based systems or carports with solar installed.

    I am buying a new home and solar is an option. Should I buy the solar? Purchasing solar when you buy a new home can be one of the most cost effective ways to invest in solar. The cost that solar would add to your mortgage payment is almost always less than the savings you would get on your monthly SMUD bill.

    Does SMUD require a building permit if I install my own system? Yes. SMUD requires a building permit for all installations, whether installed by a homeowner or contractor.

    I am re-roofing my house, can I install integrated solar tiles? Integrated solar tiles made to blend in with concrete tiles are mostly used in new construction. For more information regarding solar tiles, contact your contractor.

    Will having a solar system help in the sale of my home ? There are many factors that go into a solar system. Contact your realtor for more information.


    Will a rooftop solar electric system lower my bill? Yes, solar electricity lowers your bill, but you must still factor in the upfront cost of the system.

    Who benefits most from solar power? The most cost-effective installations are in homes with very large electric bills. However, we have found that many people are installing solar for environmental benefits. The payback is fastest for customers with larger bills, yet many solar users value environmental responsibility as much as they value cost benefits.

    Does SMUD offer Net Energy Metering Aggregation? No. Net Energy Metering Aggregation was a pilot rate that closed to all new applications on December 31, 2016.

    Is there a cost to connect to SMUD? Yes, there is a one-time fee to connect new solar systems to SMUD’s grid to recover the cost of providing interconnection service. The interconnection fee will be applied to all new systems starting March 1, 2022. The interconnection fee applies when adding a new solar system, a solar system with battery storage or a battery storage system only.

    Do I get credit if I make more electricity than I use? Effective March 1, 2022, excess electricity generated on the Solar and Storage Rate for power you don’t use or store in your battery can be sold back to SMUD at a rate of 7.4¢/kWh, no matter the time of day or season.

    Are there any tax credits available? Tax incentives may vary over time. Consult with your tax consultant before making a purchase decision. They’ll let you know the latest federal tax incentives and their possible benefit to you.

    Does SMUD finance solar electric systems? No. SMUD does not currently have financing options available.

    How much do systems cost? System vary by size and technology. The more expensive systems are ones that integrate with concrete tile roofs. The least expensive ones are traditional framed modules mounted on the roof. in the SMUD service area generally range between 3.50 and 4.50 per watt before tax credits and rebates.

    What is the likely payback on my investment, in terms of years? Payback time is determined by many factors, most importantly the amount of your current electricity bill. Customers with lower bill amounts typically have a 20-plus year payback period. Customers who have larger bills may see a return on their investment in as little as 7 to 10 years.

    Does SMUD sell solar electric systems? No. SMUD does not sell solar electric systems. SMUD offers clean energy programs for your home.

    Does SMUD offer solar incentives or rebates? SMUD does not offer rebates for solar installations. Production meter stipends for interconnection projects were discontinued effective June 1, 2023.

    How do I apply? If you are buying a system from a contractor, the contractor will take care of the paperwork. If you are installing the system yourself, you can submit the application here for through SMUD’s PowerClerk online portal.

    How does an escalator in the PPA affect my negotiated contract? The escalator in your PPA should be less than or equal to SMUD’s average annual historic escalation rate of 2-2.5%. You may save in the long-term with a 0% escalator and a PPA rate slightly above SMUD’s average cost of energy. If the PPA rate is lower than SMUD’s average cost of energy, you may save in the short term but with a 3% or greater escalator, you may lose money in the long-term.

    Finding a contractor

    How do I find a contractor? Use web resources like Angie’s List and the BBB to find and talk to as many contractors as possible. The contractor you select will place an interconnection application with SMUD through the PowerClerk portal, This will start the SMUD interconnection procedure.

    Do contractors need to be certified or licensed to install solar? A contractor should have a C-10 electrician’s license or a C-46 solar installer license. We also recommend you use a NABCEP certified installer.

    Interconnection process

    When can I use SMUD’s online interconnection application system?

    SMUD’s online interconnection application system can be used for any on-site generating facility (renewable or non-renewable) operated by or for a customer and/or facility owner to supplement or serve the customer’s electric service requirements that would otherwise be served by SMUD. The application may not be used for interconnection to SMUD’s Transmission System.

    What are the steps in the interconnection process?

    • Visit SMUD’s online interconnection application system to apply. Submit system details including single line diagram, site plans, diagrams or layout drawings and copy of your SMUD Bill. An interconnection fee is collected at the time of application.
    • SMUD conducts initial review of the application and contacts applicant if needed.
    • SMUD approves application and applicant receives email notification. Email includes SMUD prescribed inverter settings (if applicable) and any Designer or Engineer Комментарии и мнения владельцев.
    • System is installed. Installer obtains local agency permits and inspections and configures Advanced Inverter Functions (AIF) settings if applicable.
    • If applicable, proof of AIF settings are required to be submitted
    • Meter install is scheduled and performed; PTO (permission to operate) issued. I mportant meter installation video: 3 common mistakes that solar installers make.
    • Billing is set up and project completed.


    Why do I have charges each month on my SMUD bill when I produce more electricity than I use? Those charges are SMUD service charges which include the System Infrastructure Fixed charge, any fees for programs you might be enrolled in, surcharges and taxes, all of which must be paid monthly.

    Why do I receive a monthly bill from SMUD when I have solar? At night, or on very stormy days, a conventional solar electric system goes dormant. During those dormant times, you will get power from the electricity grid.

    What happens if I produce more electricity than I use? Effective March 1, 2022, excess electricity generated on the Solar and Storage Rate for power you don’t use or store in your battery can be sold back to SMUD at a rate of 7.4¢/kWh, no matter the time of day or season.

    rooftop, solar, basics, benefits, costs

    I am enrolled in Budget Billing. Can I remain on this program as a solar customer? Yes, as a Solar and Storage Rate customer, you can remain on SMUD’s Budget Billing program.

    Tax credits, rebates, and net metering are just a few of the reasons why it’s a good time to go solar.

    By Tony Carrick | Updated May 19, 2023 6:11 PM

    We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

    This is the third installment of Bob Vila’s Most Valuable Projects of 2023, a month-long series featuring high-ROI home improvements on energy efficiency, sustainable kitchens, rooftop solar, and emergency preparedness. Each week, we’re pulling from our vast library of informational content, vetted shopping guides, and connections to industry professionals to present primers on the top projects to take on this year.

    While solar panels have for years offered a way for homeowners to decrease their electric bill by harnessing the sun’s energy, the upfront cost of installing them has always been hard to swallow. Now, with the federal government and utility companies offering more tax credits and rebates than ever for clean energy sources, there truly hasn’t been a better time to make the leap to rooftop solar.

    Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, you can take a 30 percent tax credit on the installation of new solar panels through 2033 with no maximum on the amount claimed, according to the IRS. Many utility companies also offer thousands of dollars in rebates for solar panel installation.

    Solar panels also offer a solid return on investment (ROI). Homes with solar energy systems sell for an average of 4.1 percent more, according to Zillow. And, let’s not forget about the savings you’ll reap in energy costs. Depending on how much sun you receive and your utility rate, you can save 650 to 1,500 or more in annual utility costs by adding solar power. You can even sell energy back to your utility company on sunny days when you generate more than you use, further adding value to your investment.

    The following how-to guides, cost estimates, and product reviews will help you nail down whether upgrading to a cleaner energy source is right for your home—and how to get started.

    Solar Panels

    A big part of adding solar to your home is determining the type and number of solar panels you need. While the sales reps with the best solar panel companies (such as SunPower or ADT Solar) will be happy to make those calculations for you, it’s not a bad idea to educate yourself, so you can make sure your home gets what it needs.

    You’ll need to consider the amount of energy you use each year, the wattage of each panel, and the number of sunny days you have. You should also keep in mind that solar panels aren’t your only rooftop solar options. Solar shingles are an alternative to panels that better blend with your roof and can be more cost effective than panels. Once you’ve determined the number of panels (or shingles) you need, you can tally how much you can expect to spend to install those panels.

    Since there are many solar panel dealers, you’ll also want to vet the various solar providers to identify which company best meets your needs. Consult the articles below to help you through the process of sizing and pricing a rooftop solar system.

    Maximizing Solar Energy

    If you’re going to invest in solar panels, then you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of them. Consider how certain factors might affect their performance, including the direction the roof faces and any trees or buildings that may create shade over the panels. Plan on hiring a service to clean your panels annually to ensure they stay in tip-top working condition. You’ll also want to figure out if it makes more financial sense for you to buy or lease the solar panels, and how your new solar panels will impact the resale value of your home.

    Finally, to get the most out of your solar panels, contact your utility company to see if they offer a net metering program through which they’ll pay you for any excess energy you generate via your solar panels.

    Electrical Panel and Wiring

    Most people think about the price of the panels and installation when tallying up the cost of adding solar and forget to consider that their home’s electrical panel may not be up to snuff. If you have an electrical panel that uses fuses as opposed to breakers, doesn’t have enough amperage to support the new solar panels, or lacks the space to accommodate the new solar circuits, you’ll need to upgrade it in order to add solar. Another thing to consider is switching from gas to electric appliances, which might require you to expand the number of circuits in your electrical panel.

    While upgrading your electrical panel is an additional expense that adds between 1,000 and 4,000 to your rooftop solar project, it will make your house more appealing when it’s time to sell. Plus, if you perform the upgrade as part of your solar panel installation, you can use Inflation Reduction Act tax credits to help pay for it.

    Other Clean Energy Sources

    Solar energy isn’t the only alternative clean energy source you can use to power your home. Depending on your needs and where you live, there are other options you can consider. Home wind turbines are a viable energy source for those who live in rural areas that see high average monthly wind speeds of at least 10 miles per hour. Though still in their infancy when it comes to powering residential homes, fuel cells could eventually be a viable renewable energy option. This clean technology generates power through a chemical reaction, is about twice as efficient as energy produced by traditional coal and natural gas power plants, and produces zero emissions. Both wind turbines and fuel cells also qualify for residential clean energy tax credits.

    If you’re looking for reliable and clean backup power, you can purchase portable power stations as an alternative to gas-burning generators. These clean energy sources use rechargeable batteries to keep refrigerators, personal electronics, and even a window air conditioning unit up and running in the event of a power outage. Check out the following articles and guides to learn more about these alternative green energy sources.

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