When many people think about going solar, they think about the benefits first. Benefits like reducing your dependence on fossil fuels, helping the environment, and lowering your utility bills all seem like great reasons to go solar. However, few think about the challenges of actually installing solar panels on their homes or businesses. Fortunately, most buildings here in the sunny southwest are good candidates for solar panel installation. If you’re in the Salt Lake City area and are wondering if you’re home is right for solar panels, follow this quick walk-through from Gardner Energy to find your answer.
Which Way Does Your Roof Face?
This might be an odd question, especially if you have a building with multiple roof faces. But your solar panel installation will be most effective if you have a roof that faces south. The more south facing a roof is, the more solar energy it will harness and produce. To make the most of your new solar panel installation, you would want a roof that is within 40 degrees directly south. If you have a flat roof, your installation will be oriented south and elevated slightly.
How Much Roof Space Can You Use?
Even if your roof faces south, it may not be a great candidate for a solar panel installation. You also have to look at how much room is available for an array. If your south-facing roof isn’t very large, you may not have enough room to put up a large enough solar array to be of any use. In the same vein, consider any obstructions on your south-facing roof. For instance, if you have a chimney, vents, skylights, or other windows protruding from your roof, it may interrupt your array, making it of little use.
What About Shade?
Shade trees are a common and valuable part of any property. It helps to keep our homes and businesses cool during the hottest parts of the summer. Unfortunately, they can also impact the effectiveness of our solar panel installations. Look at your roof at various times throughout the day, and see how shadows play across them. Shade might come from nearby trees or surrounding buildings. You want to make sure that your roof doesn’t remain in shadow for most of the day. If there are obstructions that cause obvious shadows, you might consider removing them in order to install your solar panels.
How Much Sunlight Does Your Roof Get?
Utah is famous for its sunny weather, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get our fair share of gray days. You’ll want to figure out how many days of sunshine your home gets. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools you can use to figure that out. Google offers Project Sunroof, which uses GIS technology to display how much sun your roof gets every year. If you’re in an area that’s not covered by Project Sunroof, you can also rely on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It has solar maps you can use to get an estimate of how much sunlight your roof gets.