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The 8 Most Common Solar Questions Answered: All Answered In One Place!

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

The 8 most common solar questions in Hawaii and California answered in one place!
The Top 8 Solar Questions Answered


As the solar industry has matured, more and more homes have become good candidates for installing solar panels. At Alchemy Solar, we understand that people have questions about if they are good candidates to install a solar energy system at their home. What we decided to do was take the 8 most common questions that homeowners in California and Hawaii have and answer them all in one place.

Let's take a look at some aspects of a home that can impact a homeowner's decision to go solar.

1) Do I need to be a homeowner to go solar?

The decision to install solar at home must come from the homeowner. As a result, if you are a homeowner going solar is much easier! If you do not own a home, you can still work with the property owner to convince them to go solar.

2) Does your home receive any shading?

Very few roofs are shade-free, but many people think that any roof shading means that their homes are not a good fit for solar. The more sun a roof receives, the better electrical output a solar energy system will produce, but when a solar system is designed correctly, a solar installation can still be extremely financially beneficial even with some shading.

If your home is shaded all day (by trees that can not be trimmed or another building), solar most likely will not be a cost-effective solution.

3) Do I have the right roof for solar?

Solar production comes down to how much sun exposure a solar panel receives. Besides the shading amount, these are the roof factors that are important to evaluate when going solar:

Roof orientation:

Solar panels will produce best when on a south-facing roof but can still be extremely cost-effective when facing west or east. Learn more about how the direction of your roof impacts solar systems energy production.

Roof pitch:

A roof's pitch will impact the sun exposure a solar panel gets and, as a result, the production. Usually, a roof pitch of around 30 degrees is ideal, but solar panels will produce effectively when on a roof with a pitch between 15 and 40 degrees.

Solar panels can also be placed on a flat roof but need to be angled slightly.

Roof shape and size:

For the most effective solar install, large square or rectangular roofs are ideal. Roofs with multiple planes or angels can still be great solar roofs, but it is essential to have an experienced solar company design the system to limit shading, obstructions and maximize output.

Roof condition and age:

Solar systems have a life expectancy of over 25 years! Because the system will be on your roof for decades, it is vital to check on your roof's condition before installing solar. If you need to make any repairs to your roof, we recommend doing that before installing solar.

The material of your roof:

Solar can be installed on almost every type of roofing material. The most straightforward and most cost-effective is composite shingle. If you have another roof type such as slate, tile, gravel, or metal Alchemy Solar will work to find a solution to safely and effectively install solar panels on your home.

4) Does my home's electrical box need to upgrade?

When solar panel systems produce electricity, the electricity flows into the home before any excess electricity flows into the utility grid. Before the electricity flows into the home, it will go through the home's electrical panel. Most new homes have larger electrical panels that should be ready for solar, but you may need an electrical upgrade if you have an older home or a smaller electrical panel.

The upgrade can usually be included in the solar project, but make sure you mention any concerns about your electrical panel to your solar consultant.

5) Can I use other parts of my property to install solar because the roof doesn't seem like a good fit?

Sometimes a home's roof is not the best place to install a solar energy system. If a property has sunny and unobstructed land, a ground-mounted solar system is sometimes the right solution. In other cases, a garage, permitted shed, or patio cover can also be used to install solar panels.

6) How much does my monthly utility bill need to be to have solar make sense?

The production of a solar system is one of the most significant factors on how much a home will save but switching to solar, but it's not the largest. The most significant factor is the cost of electricity from your utility.

States, where electricity rates are the highest, will usually show homeowners the best savings. This does not mean that states with lower electrical rates or homeowners who use less electricity will not see savings by switching to solar, just that the savings might not be as high.

Usually, we find that customers with an electricity bill of $100 a month can save money by switching to solar. The savings will vary from utility to utility. San Diego and Riverside, for example, are different markets but solar will still make sense in most situations if the home is a good solar home.

7) Does going solar on my home qualify for any incentives?

As solar has become more common around the country, it makes sense to switch to solar energy in more and more places. At the same time, some states and utilities are better suited for solar. When looking at solar, the most important solar incentive to look at is solar programs your utility has. Net metering, for example, can be a huge plus when looking at solar.

In addition to utility incentives, the federal investment tax credit (ITC) and other state credit and rebates can help reduce the cost of installing solar panel systems. In California for example, homeowners who had a solar battery can also qualify for a rebate called the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). These incentives can cover over a 20% of the cost of going solar.

8) Should I get solar panels if I might move soon?

The longer you are in your home, the more value a solar system will provide. That does not mean that solar can't provide value to a homeowner who plans on moving in the next few years. Installing solar panels at your home can do the following things that are valuable for a homeowner who may be moving soon

  • Installing solar dramatically increases the value of a home. The increased home value from adding solar usually covers the cost of the solar panel system and helps homes sell faster

  • Even if you do not see the full returns from solar savings, a solar system can provide savings from day one.

  • The Solar Federal Investment Tax Credit is still 26%! That means if you still are living in your home when you file your tax returns next year, you can deduct 26% of the entire solar system cost from your taxes.


We understand that adding solar panels to your home is an important decision and want to make sure that you have all the information needed to make the right decision! Contact Alchemy Solar today to learn more about solar energy for your home.

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