Every business or home has their own situation and set of priorities in terms of acquisition of clean energy, whether due to a desire to improve local health and well-being, to reduce energy costs, to provide energy independence, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to provide opportunities for community resilience in the case of a power outage, etc. It is important that a potential solar customer identify their priorities so that they can get a system that meets their needs. A community clean energy advocate, a friend or neighbor who has pursued clean energy, or a solar installer can help sort through these priorities.
Some questions to consider:
- What is my greatest concern regarding energy use? [Cost, power outages, self-reliance, community health concerns, climate change, etc?]
- What would I like to achieve from clean energy generation?
- Do I own the building on which I want to install solar panels?
- How much roof space do I have and what condition is it in? Is my roof flat or pitched? Is it shaded? What direction(s) do the pitch of my roof face? Do I have land on which to put a ground-mounted solar array?
- Do I plan to stay at this location? Do I plan to remodel/change the building within the next 10 years?
- Have you had an energy audit or have you evaluated the energy efficiency of your location? It is always valuable to minimize energy use through efficiencies. The least expensive energy is the energy you don’t use!
Based on answers to the above questions, come up with a solar + storage preference:
- What would you like your solar array to achieve? (Maximum energy savings, maximum energy production, a system that fits a given budget, etc.)
- Would you like to consider battery storage? If so, what would you like your battery system to achieve (resilience in case of a power outage, maximum bill reductions, grid independence, etc.) It is important to prioritize these preferences. See some of the resources linked above for more details.
- Are you interested in pursuing electric vehicles? If so, these batteries may be able to provide some value in the case of a power outage. Additionally, vehicle charging can be an additional electric load that you may want to address at the time you design a solar system.