How Do I Know if Solar Is Right for Me?

There is a surge of homeowners electing to say “YES” to solar energy all over the United States and data suggests this solar boom is happening all over the world. Compass Solar Energyis based out of the northwest Florida panhandle. While we do occasionally venture outside of our immediate geographical service area for large government contracted solar farms or commercial building rooftop solar installations. However, our typical day-to-day operations keep us plenty busy with residential installations and service calls within our own local community.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as of 2019, a total of more than 2 million solar PV installations have been performed all across the U.S. It took 4 decades to reach 1 million solar installations, and about 3 years to double that amount. In general, solar is considered to be a booming industry. You can find article after article explaining why solar makes sense for homeowners, how solar helps the environment, Federal or State tax incentives, and a myriad of other positive reasons why a person should say “YES” to solar.

If you can find every reason under the sun in favor of going solar; how can there be any reasonable explanation as to why people hesitate to go solar? Especially considering that in today’s market, there are zero money down, 100% finance options to go with a grid-tied or off-grid whole home solar installation, and have battery/generator backup as well.It makes total sense for most homeowners to say “YES” to solar ASAP. However, it does not necessarily make perfect sense for everyone. There are a couple of reasons where solar simply won’t work for its intended purpose or is not a realistic option. 

Should I go solar if my roof is shaded or covered in trees?

There are plenty of times when some simple tree trimming can open up the sky and let the light shine all over your roof. Even the occasional tree removal is a feasible option for those interested in making the switch to solar. 

Every solar project proposal we create calculates the positive environmental impact that each specific solar project makes. By installing solar panels, there is less air pollution. By lessening the pollution in the air, it’s equivalent to planting a certain number of trees that would filter the air. I love trees, and I am not promoting getting rid of trees. I will say though, if removing one tree from the southern corner of the house allows a homeowner to make the switch to solar, which will have the environmental impact equivalent of planting 1500 trees, I’d say that is a more than fair trade off. 

However, every once in a while, a yard is so packed with tall, mature, protected trees that there is just no way that solar makes sense. 

Old Live Oak trees are protected in a lot of areas in northwest Florida. Heavy shade will drastically reduce the production of solar panels to the point where it really isn’t worth the investment to go solar. There are other areas all around the U.S. that protect certain designated species of trees as well. If your yard is covered in shade from protected trees, or trees that you refuse to trim or possibly remove, it probably doesn’t make sense to go solar. This is the only situation in which we believe solar does not make sense. The ROI, or return on investment just is not there.

Should I go solar if I don’t have the cash?

Compass Solar Energy takes a “Golden Rule” approach to business. I would want to be thoroughly informed and given options, so that is what we do for our clients. The average grid-tied rooftop solar PV project we sell and install, at the time of this article, is about 12.5KW of solar at around $40,000 – $60,000 depending on the difficulty of the project and different equipment combinations and/or options, such as batteries and generators, selected by the client. We are a custom design company and offer multiple panel and inverter options to our clients, so our prices vary from project to project. Unlike other solar companies that have cookie cutter prices and equipment, we want to make sure you have a system that is custom tailored to your unique situation and solar needs. 

Paying for these projects is fairly straight-forward. You pay for it with money that you have, or if not, you pay for it by borrowing money. The easiest way to pay for most people seems to be a solar loan. Solar loans are available now with no down payment and very low interest rates. Just a few years ago, going solar was cash, borrowing against the house, or using a credit card. Today, solar loans make it easy to say yes. If you are working with a good solar installation company, your solar loan is going to take the place of your existing electric bill. In other words, you stop paying $150 – $300/month to the electric company, which you will pay forever, and you start paying $150 – $300/month for your solar project, which will eventually be paid off. As a result, the bill for electricity is all but gone; with the exception of some standardized nominal fees and the rare occasional high electricity usage that goes beyond what your system produces in a given month. 

The 100% financed option makes total sense for most homeowners. It really turns the whole process into an easy decision. The only thing stopping a homeowner from going solar is if they do not have the money to pay for the project, or they do not have the credit score or available credit to qualify for a solar financing or lease option. The credit requirements are a 650 FICO or higher and the DTI, or debt to income ratio requirement varies from lender to lender. If you don’t have over a 650 FICO and you don’t have the cash to pay for solar outright, unfortunately solar is just not an option.

Is solar right for me? 

If you don’t fall into one of these two categories, either tons of shade from protected trees or no cash/credit to pay for the project, then solar would be a smart financial decision for your home. Not every solar sale and installation company is created equal, so do your due diligence when shopping around. Check the BBB (Better Business Bureau) ratings before deciding. Sit down with 3 companies to make sure that the company you choose is the most experienced and most qualified company for the job. Whatever you do, if you are in our service area, before signing any paperwork with any other company, make sure you sit down with a Solar Analyst from Compass Solar Energy for an honest and transparent evaluation and recommendation. Our Solar Analysts are thoroughly trained and will provide you with more information than you could ever hope to learn on your own. Don’t go at it alone. Find the most experienced company in your area and call them for a consultation.