How to go solar
Last updated 6/9/2021
So you want to go solar and are wondering where to begin? We’ve got you covered!
There are a few key steps to take you from interested in solar to shopping for solar to installing solar, and we have resources to help you every step of the way.
Step 1: Determine if you’re a good fit for solar
The first thing to do is to determine if you are a good fit for solar. There are five key questions to consider in helping to determine if solar is right for you:
- How much do you spend on electricity now?
- What type of home do you live in and do you own it?
- Is your roof suitable for solar?
- Can you take advantage of tax incentives and rebates?
- How much does solar cost in your region?
Even if it seems like you might not be a good fit for solar after reading through our answers to these questions, don’t rule out community solar! Community solar can allow you to take advantage of the benefits of solar if for any reason your home isn’t a good fit for solar.
Step 2: Gather and compare quotes for solar
Once you’re certain you’re a good fit for solar, the next step is to gather and compare competing quotes for solar. Historically, most solar shoppers only saw a single solar quote from a company going door-to-door selling solar in their neighborhood. But how can you be sure that you’re paying a fair price for the right system without gathering multiple quotes to compare?
That’s where EnergySage steps in: when you register for an account on EnergySage, we gather up to seven custom quotes for solar on your roof from experienced installers in your area that we partner with. Solar shoppers receiving quotes on EnergySage pay 20 percent less for solar than solar shoppers who don’t.
Step 3: Choose an installer
When you’ve received multiple quotes to compare, it’s time to pick the installer and solar panel system that’s right for your needs. From the quality and type of solar equipment included in your quote, to the ratings and reviews of the installer, and, finally, to the comparative prices of the systems, there are a number of details to base your decision on.
Step 4: Decide how to pay for solar
Equally important as deciding which installer to go with and which solar panel system to install, is deciding how you will pay for your solar installation. There are three main methods of paying for solar: upfront, with a loan, or via a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). There are pros and cons to each method.
With an upfront payment, you’ll see the largest financial savings over the lifetime of the solar panels, but have to have the capital on hand to pay for the system up front. With a lease, someone else owns the solar panels on your roof, and you purchase the electricity from them each month at a discounted rate compared to what you typically pay for electricity, but you won’t save as much over time and don’t receive all of the solar incentives. A solar loan falls somewhere between the other two options, as you own the solar panel system but pay for it monthly, as opposed to all at once up front.
Step 5: Install your system
Congratulations! Once you’ve signed a contract and decided how to pay for your solar panel system, the hard work for you is done. Time to sit back, relax, and watch your solar installation company go to work putting the panels up on your roof.
Prior to installation day, and prior to finalizing your signed contract, your solar company will come out for an in-person site inspection to confirm the stability of your roof and make any slight adjustments to your initial quote as necessary, whether to upgrade your electrical panel or for some other reason. Additionally, your installation company will begin the process of submitting the paperwork that’s required for installation and interconnection to the grid, as well as for applicable incentives, on your behalf.
On install day, you can expect probably 5-10 employees of your installation company to be on site, ranging from certified electricians who do all of the electrical work to the solar panel installers who will be up on your roof putting the panels in place and attaching them to your roof. These days, most solar installs can happen in a single day.
After that, it’s just a question of receiving approval for incentives, as well as permission to operate from your utility so you can turn your system on.
That’s it. You’ve installed solar and are ready to enjoy decades worth of free, solar-powered electricity!
EnergySage is the nation's online solar marketplace: when you sign up for a free account, we connect you with solar companies in your area, who compete for your business with custom solar quotes tailored to fit your needs. Over 10 million people come to EnergySage each year to learn about, shop for and invest in solar. Sign up today to see how much solar can save you.