Factors to consider before going solar

Many people are increasingly feeling the need to adopt renewable energy solutions in order to serve the larger goal of saving the environment and sustaining it for the future generations to come. In the recent times, Solar Energy has emerged as the most popular alternative source of clean energy. Even our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid emphasis on installation of solar panels over water bodies and rooftops. Solar has caught the fancy of the people but they face the dilemma of the cost involved in going solar.
They wonder if it is worth in terms of investment and the savings which it delivers.

We bring to light some factors to consider before you choose the solar route.

ROOFTOP SPACE

Rooftop solar systems have become popular by-the-day as it now easier and affordable to install rooftop systems. But in order to install rooftop panels for your residence, you need to ensure that there is sufficient space at your rooftop for proper installation. Also, it is recommended that you have an independent rooftop. The higher the consumption, the more space you need for the panels. Thus, solar rooftops work best for those who own houses with sufficient rooftop space. Those who live in apartments or share their terrace space with others need to consider prior approval of the society and/or neighbours.

You need a minimum of 50 square feet for a starter system and as much as 500 to 1,000 square feet for meeting full energy needs of a home. A square foot of single or poly-crystalline silicon module area produces 10 watts of power in bright sunshine. So a 1,000-watt system needs 100 to 200 square feet of roof.

SUNLIGHT- A KEY FACTOR
 

  • Sunlight access:
Needless to say, solar panels work to their full potential when they have sufficient exposure to sunlight. The rooftop should not get shade, which can come from neighboring structures like buildings, hoardings, mobile phone towers and trees. The shading analysis is important before estimating the actual roof area available for rooftop solar. At times, the PV plant itself gives the shade. One row of panels can cast a shadow on the row behind them.
 
  • Position of the panel for maximum sunlight:
The rooftop panel has to be positioned south of the latitude and so the angle depends upon your location. For e.g. , if you reside in Goa, the solar array has to be tilted 15 degrees to the latitude angle but in case of Mumbai the angle will be 12 degrees. The basic reason is simple-get the maximum sunlight to effectively utilize the rooftop panels & generate power. Here, we would like to add that panels do work on cloudy days and in rainy season also but the efficiency is somewhat reduced.

ANALYSE THE COST BEFORE GOING SOLAR

Before going solar, analyze what is your energy (electricity) consumption and how much of solar capacity do you actually need to install. The cost of a rooftop panel also depends on its quality. Currently, a reasonably good rooftop panel of 1 kWh (output) costs around Rs 75,000-Rs.1 lakh. The number of panels that you need depends upon the number of units of power consumed daily. The higher the energy consumption, the higher the cost. To move to solar, besides solar panels, you will also need to install inverters / UPS (uninterruptible power supply), battery and wiring.

NET METERING BENEFIT

When you opt to go solar, it is important to understand the concept of net metering. In simple terms, net metering is a meter that feeds power to a grid.  It is similar to the meter which we have in our houses which shows the units of electricity consumed. If your panels produce more energy than needed, the excess energy produced is transferred to the city’s grid and you will receive a credit to your electricity bill. This is known as net metering. This is an excellent way of saving money in terms of monthly cost reductions when rooftop panels produce excess energy than your demand.

ESTIMATE THE LOAD

To identify the capacity of the solar panels to be installed, you need to make an accurate assessment of the electricity units that you consume regularly. This is necessary to install only the requisite number of solar panels and notify your DISCOM about net metering.

ROOF REQUIREMENTS
 
  • The type of roof required:
Roofs are available in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Solar panels can be installed on virtually any roof.Though most of the solar installations are done on composite shingle since it is very quick and easy but if you have a Spanish tile rooftop, it requires different mounting systems and may take longer.
 
  • Do you need a new roof?
No, for installing a solar system you don’t require a new roof; unless your current roof is due for a replacement in the near future. Solar Panels last for years together. In case your roof needs repairs, it is better to carry them out before you install them.

DO YOU NEED OF PERMANENT RESIDENCE?

It is advisable to install solar systems if you have a permanent residence. Solar panels last for as long as 25 years and there is no reason to change them sooner. So you need to be sure that you will not need to move for a long time. Although the system can be shifted easily in case you do plan to move but it will incur you an additional cost of 10-15% of the project cost. Also, the solar system will increase your property value since the prospective home buyers are happy to buy a solar-equipped house.

POLICIES AND BENEFITS IN YOUR STATE

You should inquire about the rules and regulations pertaining to installation of solar energy and how you can take advantage of net metering. Also, many state governments extend tax benefits and subsidies for solar installation. This will enable you to derive the maximum monetary benefit of going solar.

Conclusion

India has a vast potential for solar energy. With the rapid decrease in the cost of solar installation, tax and subsidy benefits, dramatic reduction in electricity bills and increase is cost of consumption of conventional electricity, solar is becoming more affordable and viable option. Solar is a best alternative to lead personal and national energy transition. Let’s go solar!


1 Comment

How can I get my house evaluated for getting equipped with solar?

By: sonam sharma
Dec 29, 2015   Reply

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