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Thinking Through Solar

Many homeowners are interested in learning about how solar panels can lower their energy spending and reduce their carbon footprint. Solar can be an attractive investment, but it needs to be compared against the other changes you can make to your home. PV solar generators are a major investment, and often homeowners are under the impression that they should get a large system. If you’re interested in the financial returns of solar, this couldn’t be further than the truth; you must make sure you size the system correctly.

Tip 1 – Efficiency First

Undertake relatively inexpensive efficiency measures first (that’s a critical part of how this tool can help)! In almost every home, there is a range of efficiency measures that deliver savings at much less cost than installing those expensive solar PV generation panels. Figure out what those measures are, and do them first – it'll likely deliver you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the system if you size the system optimally!

Tip 2 – Don’t Oversize

Don't oversize the system and substitute out inexpensive electricity!  Everyone is entitled to a basic amount of inexpensive electricity. Buying an overly large solar system will result in you foregoing that allotment of inexpensive electricity; it is likely to end up actually increasing your overall spending and costs!
There are two key components for analyzing whether solar makes sense for your house: 1) Performing the site analysis, and 2) evaluating the economics.

Installation of Solar Panels

Site evaluation

As part of an analysis of your home's energy systems, there are three principal aspects of PV solar generation potential:

  1. The angle of your home’s mounting platform (like the roof) relative to the path of the sun (also called the azimuth)
  2. The tilt (also called the pitch) of that mounting platform relative to the path of the sun
  3. The shading over that mounting platform from any obstructions

During an onsite visit, readings are rapidly conducted using sophisticated equipment, allowing an assessment of any mounting platform's suitability across the seasons. Alternatively, many vendors are able to use mapping technologies to perform this same type of analysis remotely by just knowing your address. This, in turn, gives you a solid understanding of the amount of electricity PV solar panels would be able to generate at your property.

“Right Sizing” Your Investment

Like every other potential home energy investment, you should evaluate the return on investment of installing PV solar panels. Most folks would like to minimize the amount of money they need to spend, and thus will first lower their energy consumption by undertaking less costly measures, like replacing an old swimming pool filter pump or incandescent light bulbs. This tool will help 'right-size' your PV solar panel needs, giving you an installation that minimizes your investment.


Through our Contractor Marketplace, you can search for contractors and find the right fit for your project. You find out details about the contractor such as what types of certifications they have and where they are located. You can also directly find reviews when available. From there it is easy to connect and get started with your projects. A quality installation of equipment increases the benefits and efficiency of your new equipment.

Energy efficient products usually have lower operating costs and frequently qualify for rebates.

Through our Finance Marketplace, you can search across different types of financing products to find the right options for you. This includes options for both secured and unsecured loans as well as product specific loans (e.g. solar financing).

You can search across the major retailers (e.g. Best Buy, Amazon) for products that qualify for rebates.