Is Solar Power Right For You?

You may think of many things when you think of solar power. If you’re over about 35 years old, you will likely remember the large, perhaps even ugly, solar panels that popped up on many rooftops in the 1970’s.

If you’re thinking about solar power for your home these days, there are many options and important considerations. I had a meeting with Steve Bauhs, an executive at Simple Solar electric systems, in Boulder last week. It was an interesting conversation.

One of the points he made is that you can add solar collecting equipment to a building pretty ‘easily’, but it is important to engineer the system properly if you want your system to give you the best possible return on your investment.

That’s right, return on investment (ROI) is a term we hear in the business-to-business world frequently, but not so much in the business-to-consumer world. That’s unfortunate because many homeowners will choose to have improvements or modifications to their home without ever understanding how it benefits their wallet in the long term scenario.

One bit of great news is that the cost of photo voltaic solar panels is lower than it ever has been, and people are finding many creative and innovative ways to blend the installation of PV panels with other uses.

Now, we’re back to engineering. Sometimes one needs to choose between aesthetics and function. Yep, it’s true that there’s still some balancing act between form and function. Fortunately for us, expressing yourself through your public display of your use of alternative energy is perhaps, quite popular these days.

You do have choices though. You can select custom panels that will follow the angle of your roof line, even if it isn’t a perfect ninety degrees. You can also engineer the roof so that the panels are recessed and flush with the adjoining roofing surfaces, and there are even solar shingles for some applications. Just keep in mind that with each option, there’s a cost benefit comparison that you should investigate.

Hiring a professional solar installation company who understands these critical choices, and who can explain them to you clearly is a good idea. You may find that after exploring all the aesthetic options available to you, the most functional solution is where you land. Perhaps even right back to the original solution proposed by your solar engineer professional.

Explore your options, learn what you can to feel comfortable with making excellent choices, and then pick a company that has the experience, knowledge and dedication to its customers necessary to make sure that you get what you really need.

If you want to learn more about alternative energy, renovating your home to be more green, and green building techniques, consider coming to my ‘greenovate your home’ community workshop. It’s at 6:30 pm on September, 24th 2008. Contact me for more details.

In the future, we may have Simple Solar do a workshop for us. If this interests you, please let me know. I want to continue to provide more information and answers that come straight from the source of professionals in the industry.

In the meantime, if your’e thinking about adding solar and the project is already under way, consider making sure that panel isn’t facing north. And, if you’re in the process of buying a home which might get solar added later, look for obstacles.

One might be tall trees on the south side of the property which will possibly block solar rays to the roof. Or another that may inhibit your ability to maximize the home’s solar potential if using PV panels is the home’s orientation. If the primary roof surface is east-west instead of north-south, you may have a less efficient situation for collecting solar.

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