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Are Solar Panels Right for You?

The summer months may be coming to a close for this season, but there’s no better time to think about preparing your roof for the next season. Gutter leaf protection isn’t the only improvements you can make.  Solar panels are another great option.  They require a bit of an initial expense, but they offer heaps of benefits.  First, you’ll save loads on your energy bill.  With a large enough setup, you may also be able to make additional money by selling extra electricity back to the grid.  Last but not least, it’s an environmentally conscious move, one that lowers your carbon footprint while saving in cooling costs.

With so many benefits, it’s not surprising that more Australians are equipping their roofs each year.  However, since the purchase and installation of solar panels can be costly, you’ll want to consider a few factors first.  Nearly all roofs can handle solar panels, but each roof is different.  Some are less than ideal, and others might require a bit of preparation before installation is the right move.  Let’s have a closer look at what you should think about before making a choice.

1. What condition is your roof in?

This is first and foremost.  Solar panels are a long-term investment.  With little to no maintenance, a solar setup can produce energy for between 25 and 40 years.  But, if your roof is in for repair or replacement in a few years, you could be setting yourself up for a costly removal and replacement.  In most cases, it’s preferable to install them when the roof is new.  At the very least, you’ll want to consider doing preventative maintenance if working with an older roof.  In fact, this is the most important consideration in determining whether the timing is right for solar panel installation.

2. What are the orientation and pitch of your roof?

This is how you’ll determine the efficiency of your assembly.  The pitch of your roof determines how directly the light hits, so it has a bearing on how much energy your panels will produce each day.  The prime angle for receiving sunlight is 30 degrees.  This will give maximum results, though you’ll still get some energy from both steeper and shallower angles.  Plus, flat roofs are easiest for installation, so you may save a bit in the outset.

Even more important than this is the orientation of your house.  The sun travels from east to west across the sky, circling to the north during the middle of the day in the southern hemisphere.  This means that you’ll only be getting a fraction of the total light on an east-west roof. North-south roofs are ideal, and you’ll be best off if you line the north-facing side.  This means more energy efficiency and better value.

3. What is your roofing material and what obstacles are in the way?

The ease of installation will depend on the material of your roof.  Asphalt shingles are ideal, making the easiest installation.  Metal roofs are relatively easy to work with as well.  If working with a flat roof, the material won’t matter all that much, as the installation is the same regardless.  However, pitched roofs with slate or Spanish tile pose a special challenge.  This will up the installation costs, so you’ll want to mention these materials when asking for a consultation.

Climate is another huge consideration, as northern climes with stronger exposure to light mean that you’ll produce more energy during the day.  More important than this, however, is the amount of shade created by trees and other obstacles.  More shade means less exposure to sun and less energy produced each day.  If you have overhanging trees, it’s well worth the investment to trim them back prior to installation.  This is an added initial cost, but the money spent on tree trimming will be made back relatively quickly in energy savings.  Plus, it creates space to make the installation process itself easier and less hazardous.

4. Are there other considerations?

If you’re giving your roof a full makeover, you’ll want to consider the order in which you do the improvements. When installing solar panels, it might be necessary to set ladders against the rain gutters to get access to the roof.  If you have installed gutter leaf guards prior to solar panel installation, they can be damaged by the pressure of the ladder.  So, if you plan to add both improvements to your roof around the same time, it might be helpful to plan the gutter guard installation after the solar panels have been sorted out.

If you’d like an experienced professional to have a look at your roof and offer some recommendations, give us a call.  We offer free consultations, and we’re dedicated to reducing your costs and increase the life of your home.

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