Part of homesteading and rural living not only involves getting away from the city, but also for many people it means going off the grid and living in a green, self-sufficient way. The sun is one of our greatest resources, and it’s there for the taking — provided you can figure out how to make it work for your benefit using solar panels.
Why pay the power company more than you have to? Why throw money away to the power company when that money can be used to pay for your new solar system? With a qualified electrician and some batteries, you could install a transfer switch and disconnect yourself from the grid.
Benefits to Going Solar
Autonomy. When massive power outages occur, you have your own power plant.
Freedom From Utility Companies. Over time — mind you, it will take a while to pay back your initial loan for having the panels installed — you won’t be paying the power company every month for providing a service the sun can give you for free.
Tax Credits. The federal government will provide a tax credit amounting to 26% of the total cost of your solar panel installation.
Rebates. In addition to tax credits, there are numerous programs such as Net Energy Metering, Solar Renewable Energy Credits, Solar Tax Exemptions, and straight-out cash rebates for switching from the power grid to solar panels.
- The company will acquire the proper permits and do the design and installation of your panels.
- Picking where the solar control boxes are installed requires some consideration. I ended up putting the one on my house in the wrong place, and it will need to be moved.
- The install crew is nowhere near as familiar with your land as you are. So make sure they aren’t going to accidentally cut through a water or electric line. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
- Make sure the panels are positioned exactly where you want for maximum exposure to the sun.
- They can be ground-mounted. This also provides a lot of creative storage as well as no holes in your roof. Mount as tall as possible if you plan to use your panels as a storage shed.
- Solar panels can be ugly if placed wrong. Make sure you do a strong proper prior planning session of where they should go before they install it.
- If the initial cost of installation is prohibitive, keep in mind that solar panels can be added over time. So that’s an option.
Negotiating A Solar Panel Loan
- Solar salesmen are much like car salesmen: somewhat pushy and impatient, although you still end up with your own power plant instead of a flashy ride.
- I was able to upgrade my old electrical system and roll it into my solar loan.
- You still have to pay a grid fee and a loan payment on the system.
- The system is warrantied for the life of the loan.
- The loan is long-term, so my kids may find out how well the warranty works.
- The loan is fully transferable. So it’s not a problem to sell. Keep in mind that the loan is cheaper than a monthly power bill, so that turns into a selling point.
How Most Solar Panel Systems Work
- You’re still using your electric company’s power.
- Your solar panels produce power and puts it back to the grid.
- You get a new meter that tracks how much power your system puts back to the grid.
- Your power company issues your account with credit that you use for your everyday needs.
- It is possible that you may use more power than you produce and have to pay a loan and a bill. This is common for the first few months, but after a while the system will have paid for itself.