Is Your Home Suitable For Solar Panel Installation?
Want to add a solar power system to your house? Worry not, because you are not alone.
Per a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and research firm Wood Mackenzie, the solar industry in the US installed 6.1 gw of solar capacity in the first quarter of 2023, sufficient to power 4 million-plus homes. This is a 30% rise (overall installation covered 1.6 GW in the US) from 2022.
However, as more Americans decide to ditch fossil fuels to transition to solar, a pressing question remains - “Is my house good for solar?”
Is My House Good For Solar?
Solar energy is no longer a dream for the distant future. It is here and is the reality now. Thanks to the game-changing US government tax incentives, the demand for solar has grown exponentially in recent years. As a homeowner, you may wonder — is my house good for solar — but your decision should follow a two-way process. First, you dive into the finances to assess whether it will reduce your electric bills. Once you have the answer, you jump to the most practical part — to check if your home is suitable for solar panel installation.
So, going solar requires a thorough check to determine if your house and solar panels are the right match.
1. The Sun Score
If you ever search for homes on Zillow, you may have come across an option called a “Sun Number” or “Sun Score”. Developed with help from the US Department of Energy, this was an initiative meant to promote the benefits of renewable energy among households and help them understand solar energy better.
A sun number or a sun score is a rating between 0 and 100, which identifies the solar potential of your house.
A high sun number means your house is conditioned for installing solar panels while a low score makes it less appealing.
70 or higher is a great sun score number and indicates solar is a great financial choice. A perfect score of 100 is rare but a blessing. If your score goes below 70, your home can benefit from a solar panel but with lower energy output. Homes with a high score have high property value.
Four Factors Influence The Sun Score
Building — Maximum score is 80 points
Home orientation, roof slope size, and shading determine the house’s sun score. Ideally, your solar score should not be less than 50 and anything above 60 is ideal.
US homes with south-facing roofs, decent square footage, a 30-degree slant matching the latitude of the house’s location, and zero shading give maximum scope for energy production via solar. In case of excess energy production, you can store it as backup supply power.
Regional climate score — Maximum score is 8 points
The amount of direct sunlight that hits your home roof affects the total electricity production.
Seasonal weather and the environment play a major role here. If your house is surrounded by high-rise buildings and lots of trees, your sun number will be low. A climate with overcast skies will bear the same output.
Refer to the solar irradiance data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) website, to calculate the Regional Climate score of your area.
Electric rates — Maximum score is 8 points
The average electricity rates in your area determine whether your home is favorable for solar installation. The sun number is high when electricity rates in your area are high. A high cost ensures that the solar system will pay quickly for itself in utility bill savings.
Solar cost score — Maximum score is 4 points
In New York, US, the average cost of solar panels ranges from $13,388 to $18,112. This cost derivation is done based on a system that can meet 100% of one’s home electrical needs. Also, on a cost-per-watt basis, the approximate price ranges from $2.68 to $3.62 per watt.
High average costs for solar installation decrease your house’s sun number, whereas low cost does the opposite. Therefore, if the cost of solar installation is low in your region, it will have an inverse effect on your sun number, compared to the electricity prices.
Where Can You Check The Sun Score?
Simply enter your home address on Zillow.com. While most properties have a sun number listing, homeowners can make accurate purchases after tallying the solar potential of buildings.
2. The Roof
Another major consideration for solar installation is the roof. You might think — Is my roof good for solar?
We have the answer.
A solar system is durable enough to last 25 years, so ensure that the roof is upgraded and well repaired. It should be able to bear the weight of the solar panels. Broken, sagging, or missing shingles are a strict no, no. Different types of roofs last for varied time periods.
- Metal roofs: 50 – 75 years
- Composite shingles: 12 – 20 years
- Asphalt shingles: 15 – 30 years
- Rubber roofs: 30 – 50 years
- Wood shingles: 20 – 25 years
Rooftops fit for solar panels are composite shingles, asphalt shingles, and tile roofs, while metal standing seams allow easy and cheap installation. You can install both thin film and standard PV solar panels on metal roofs. It significantly reflects sunlight, which does not get absorbed by the panels, and ultimately creates a cooling effect to enhance the system’s efficiency.
The ideal rooftop angle for solar installation is south-facing with a tilt between 40 degrees to 45 degrees.
Size of the roof
Generally, a square foot space can generate 15 watts of solar energy. For a small house, you would need around 200 square feet of roof space. This is for your help when you think if your roof is good for solar. A large home can utilize 400 to 500 square feet of area to fit around 18 to 24 solar panels.
3. Number of Solar Panels Needed
Most residents in the US install solar panels to offset 100% of their electric bills. This is after assessing if the roof is good for solar. You can calculate the number of solar panels needed by calculating:
Solar panel wattage x peak sun hours x number of panels = daily electricity use
Here are some more tips.
- Dig up your recent utility bills to assess your electricity usage.
- In the US, the average peak sun hours range from 5.75 hours each day in the Southwest to less than 4 hours per day in the North. During this time, the sun intensity averages 1,000 watts per square meter or 1 kW/m2.
- You can choose a solar panel power rating between 250W to 450W.
4. Availability of sun rays
For the question — is my house good for solar? — we have another answer.
A solar system needs unobstructed access to sunlight to function throughout the day. The quantity of exposure to sun rays decides whether going solar is the best idea for you.
The favorable location to place a sun unit is a flat roof with minimal obstructions like nearby buildings, antennas, chimneys, vents, and or trees.
Even if it is not so, the installer will utilize a rack to adjust the solar panel orientation for more sunlight.
Want to check your home’s solar viability?
Go to Google's Project Sunroof, put your address, and see how much usable sunlight your house gets every year. The tool lets you personalize your solar analysis and also compare finance options. Currently, it has solar data for parts of 50 states and Washington DC. If you live in areas with harsh storms and frigid weather conditions, install durable solar panels that can endure adverse weather conditions.
Let Us Qualify The Home For You.
At Solarblocks, our team of experienced professionals will help you understand the complete home solar panel installation requirements and make you understand if your roof is good for solar. Be it your Sun Number Score or your roof type, we can assist you with the best-tailored services for convenience. From site visits to activating the system, we guarantee a complete re-evaluation of your home so you can avoid paying off the rising energy costs at all rates.
Let’s harness the power of solar for a smart, bright, and sustainable future.
Begin Your Journey From Today
Let your sustainable way of life begin here..
Begin Your Journey From Today
Let your sustainable way of life begin here..