There are many factors to consider when determining if solar is right for you. While rooftop solar has become a popular option, you can also take advantage of solar energy without generating it yourself. Many Georgia EMCs offer programs that allow consumers to participate in community-scale solar projects located across the state. Visit our Cooperative Solar page to learn more.
If you are interested in installing your own rooftop solar system, first contact your local EMC. As your trusted energy advisor, EMCs can help guide you through the process and make the best decisions for your home energy needs.
Residential Rooftop Solar Considerations
Interested in rooftop solar? View the information on the tabs below to understand considerations of a home solar installation.
The amount of energy a solar system produces depends on climate, available sunlight, sun angle (a function of latitude) and other factors. In the United States, the Southwest has the most solar potential. However, Georgia and the Southeast have enough available sunlight to make solar energy production viable in most areas. Georgia averages about eight hours of sunlight each day.
A south-facing exposure with minimal shading offers the greatest solar energy potential. Because of the potential long life of solar panels, your roof needs to be less than five years old to avoid costly removal or replacement of your panels during roof repairs. Before you make the decision to invest in solar, contact your local EMC.
The capacity of a solar system to generate electricity is measured in kilowatts. One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. The average home system produces between 4-10 kilowatts.
Before deciding on a solar energy system, review your annual kilowatt-hour consumption, which can be provided by your EMC, and consider improving your energy efficiency with a home energy evaluation. Understanding your home’s electricity consumption is very helpful in determining how much electricity you want to produce and will help you choose the solar system size that meets your budget and energy needs.
Photovoltaic systems are relatively simple. They consist primarily of the panels that collect the sunlight and convert it into electricity, an inverter for changing the current from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), and the support structure and wiring necessary to connect these devices into your home electric system.
Most systems are connected to the grid. Contact your local EMC during the planning process to ensure a safe and reliable interconnection.
Some people choose to pair a solar installation with a battery storage system. This can be used to store the energy from solar panels for use at night or as an emergency backup to deliver power to your home during an outage. Despite declining battery prices, they are still relatively expensive. You should consider your specific use case carefully before investing in a battery system.
The cost of solar panels has come down in recent years. However, solar systems are still relatively expensive. The average home system costs between $3,000 and $5,000 per kilowatt. Costs will vary depending on the available space, the condition of your roof and orientation of your home. Consult a qualified contractor for more information.
As you consider rooftop solar, it is important to gain a full understanding of all aspects of the system. This includes the installation and maintenance costs, the amount of generation you may get from your system based on your roof orientation and shading, along with your hourly home consumption and current energy costs which can be provided by your local EMC.
You can use an online calculator like PVWatts to estimate the amount of energy your system could produce. However, while using the PV Watts Calculator can you give you a good estimate of your potential generation, you should also contact your local EMC and a qualified solar professional. They can help ensure you have a complete understanding of all potential costs before making a decision on whether or not rooftop solar makes sense for you.
In general, solar panels require little maintenance. However, just as with other home appliances, routine inspections and monitoring are recommended to ensure your system safely produces energy. Other necessary components of your system, such as the inverter and monitoring equipment, may need to be replaced more often and some components may need regular, professional inspections. Occasionally, panels will need to be cleaned of debris and anything blocking the sun. Looking for a maintenance-free solution? Visit our Cooperative Solar page.
Contact your insurance agent to see whether your policy covers solar panels on your roof or in your yard.
Find information about tax incentives at the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, and contact your tax advisor to see if you qualify.
The four most common ways to purchase a rooftop solar system are cash, financing, leasing or a power purchase agreement (PPA).
While upfront cash is the least expensive, homeowners should factor in added costs to cover operations and maintenance over the life of the system.
Loans or leases can reduce your upfront costs; however, buyers should be aware of fine print in their agreements to ensure they understand the total cost of ownership.
Under a PPA, homeowners are buying the electricity from a third-party and do not own any part of the solar system.
It is important to note that with leasing or a PPA, where the homeowner does not own the system, the homeowner cannot claim any state or federal incentives.
Homeowners should start with contacting their local EMC. There are many factors to consider when planning your solar system. Your local EMC can help with improving your home’s energy efficiency, right-sizing your system and the required interconnection agreement.
Almost all solar energy systems located at a home or business are interconnected to their local electric system. Chances are, you’ll need supplemental energy when the panels are not generating enough (i.e., during rainy periods and at nighttime). The use of batteries for storage can help, but they will add more expense to your system.
The answer depends on whether you are buying a system outright, leasing a system or using some other method. Make sure you check with your local building and zoning office to see what building code regulations apply. You will also need an interconnection agreement with your local EMC. Meeting the terms of this agreement will help ensure your system is safely connected to the grid. Your qualified contractor can help provide this information.
Sometimes a customer-owned solar system will generate more energy than is used. Many EMCs provide credit for excess energy produced by a customer’s solar equipment. Contact your local EMC to learn more about their policies and procedures for interconnection and opportunities for use of any excess energy generation.