How to Optimize Your Davis Home for Solar Panels
The current surge towards residential solar power is often a delicate balance between seasonal energy demands and a home’s architecture—but Davis is home to some cutting edge solar research thanks to the UC Davis campus. Students at our local university are set to compete in another solar decathlon next year to test their engineering mettle against teams from around the country. They excelled in the last one, and we expect them to rock the competition again.
Maybe these forward-thinking students are influencing the local community, as we have found our Davis clients to be early-adopters for green technology. While solar isn’t always “green,” it’s a viable source of alternative energy for many homeowners. If you’re considering solar power for your own home, you might benefit from the experience of a few of our Davis clients we recently collaborated with to make solar energy a reality for their house.
How to Decide If Solar Panels Are a Fit for You
The first step before panel installation is an energy assessment. Solar assessments are similar to the home energy efficiency assessments we do for our clients—we want to make sure solar is a good fit for you. One environmentally-friendly Davis homeowner was amped to go solar, but we found she could lower her energy bill by about half for just $400 with some simple insulation and duct sealing. Solar is much more expensive—it may not always make sense to buy or finance a several-thousand-dollar system that you’ll pay for over many years if you can find cheaper ways to reduce your energy use.
However, if you see solar as the next step towards a home that produces more energy than it consumes, we can make your dream of solar energy a reality. Will your home benefit from solar panel installation? For Davis residents, the answer is often a yes. While in the United Kingdom it takes eight years on average for solar panels to pay for themselves, here in sunny California, it usually only takes four.
Where Will I Put My Solar Panels?
Once you’ve decided solar energy is the right fit for you, we can help determine if it is the right fit for your roof. One of our Davis clients had to contend with the fact that his roof was too steep for panels. Panels work best on the south-facing side of a home, angled anywhere from 20 to 60 degrees. His roof, however, was the result of some experimental 1970s architecture—and it just wasn’t going to play nicely with solar equipment.
We’ve also had clients run into similar trouble with sun exposure: either their roof just isn’t ideal for south-facing panels, or overhanging trees and other obstacles block out the sunlight too much for solar equipment to be effective. Davis is nice and shady, but plenty of old-growth trees mean lots of opportunity to block out the sun. And it may not be easy to fix this if the tree is city property or in your neighbor’s yard.
When facing panel location issues, we often suggest a free-standing array placed in the yard or somewhere else on the property that gets lots of sun. These structures are about the size of a car, but can complement a garden or yard, and you have the added benefit of getting them in the perfect location for solar energy, instead of an okay position on the roof. Solar equipment can also be vulnerable to breakage—one factor to consider when deciding where to locate your panels. Putting them in the yard makes sense for a lot of reasons, but we don’t want to see panels fall victim to your son’s home run hit.
Maintaining Your Installed Solar Panels
Solar panels are extremely durable appliances, maintenance-wise, and don’t require much in the way of upkeep. In fact, many of our clients in Davis do very little to maintain their panels, if anything at all—our Mediterranean climate is ideal for the health of solar energy equipment. If you would like, you can have the installer clean the panels annually to keep output at its peak. Just refrain from taking the hose to them yourself—if something happens, you might void the warranty.
Solar panels are a significant investment for your home, so we recommend going with an installer that offers a warranty on your equipment—that’s one of the reasons reputable companies purchase and install panels (instead of leasing them from a third party that may charge you for damaged equipment). A professional installer shouldn’t be pushy, and should answer any questions you have. Contact your local solar provider for more information.