For the past month, we’ve all been making drastic changes to the way we live, including adapting our homes in myriad ways. And while sustainability has perhaps not been a main factor as you’ve adapted to a stay-at-home lifestyle, with summer approaching, now is an excellent time to think about converting to solar. Recently, we talked to Tad Luttrell, vice president of sales and marketing at Sigora Solar in Charlottesville, Virginia, about the key factors to consider before adding solar panels to your abode. Here, he dispels some common myths, explains the process, and shares why converting to solar energy is a wise investment.
You can convert to solar while following social distancing guidelines. There are many reasons why someone would be hesitant to embark on a home project right now, from not knowing whether solar companies are operating to being wary of inviting someone onto their property. Solar companies have been deemed essential businesses by the federal government, and according to Luttrell, many, like Sigora Solar, have employees working from home doing virtual consultations and working safely in the field following social distancing guidelines during installations.
Committing to solar is a commitment to sustainability. Solar power provides a fantastic opportunity for someone to lead by example and produce clean energy for themselves at a cheaper rate than they can buy it from the utility company, Luttrell says, noting, “Solar is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. for good reason. It makes financial sense, environmental sense, and it’s needed for a better, cleaner future for ourselves and the environment.”
Going solar can help you increase your property value and stay competitive in the real estate market. Solar energy makes a significant impact in the equity and resale value of the home, says Luttrell. When you choose a company for your install that is Pearl Certified, they are linked to the U.S. Department of Energy, The Appraisal Institute, National Association of Realtors, and others, which ensures that your home is properly appraised in order to reflect the value increase. Luttrell points out that this, in combination with a guaranteed lower electric bill, can help you to sell your home in the future.
Solar panels can be aesthetically pleasing. “Many people are surprised to see how solar panels actually look now,” Luttrell shares. “They often have a mental picture of the old blue-purple panels that are not only unattractive, but obtrusive.” Today, many panels are sleek, black, and blend into the roof, resulting in a much more clean and appealing appearance than people are usually envisioning.
You can be cash-positive from day one. One of the main reasons people invest in solar energy is to lower their energy bills. Upon installation of solar panels, you can likely immediately replace your existing electric bill with a new, lower, fixed rate payment, Luttrell says. “The beauty of this payment is that most companies will allow you to pay it off anytime, without a prepayment penalty,” he says. Your local experts will be able to fully explain the financial benefits of going solar with you, so be sure to talk about it during your initial consultation.
The sun exposure factors are simple. When it comes to maximizing solar power for your home, the rule is simple (and obvious): the more sunlight, the better. As much as possible, you want to have uninterrupted sun for as long as you can have it. To that end, Luttrell says that your local solar company might recommend trimming trees if they would shade or obstruct the solar panels. Home orientation is an important factor as well, with north being the least desirable direction. “When solar panels are installed on the north side of a home the homeowner never gets the production they expected,” Luttrell says. “Southern exposure is best, but east/west is still very effective.”
Prep work and maintenance are minimal. There’s very little the homeowner needs to do to prepare for solar panel installation once you’ve had your consultation and gone through the permitting, engineering, and design phase. “Reroofing can be beneficial if your existing roof is getting to that 15 to 20-year range,” Luttrell says, adding that another “hidden” benefit to solar is the fact that you’ll actually get a longer lifespan from your existing roof because it’s being shielded by the solar panels. Because there are no moving parts, and sunlight creates the electricity automatically, solar panels require nothing from the homeowner. Snow slides off quickly because the panels are smooth, glass surfaces on a tilt.
Photography by Marc Jeanniton. TSG Tip 361 from Tad Luttrell, vice president of sales and marketing at Sigora Solar in Charlottesville, Virginia. Sigora Solar is featured in The Scout Guide Charlottesville.