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Is My House Good for Solar?

With big solar incentives coming to Illinois, you may be wondering, is my house good for solar?

To answer that, there are three key things you need to know.  

First, do you own your home?  You probably can’t install solar if you are a renter because your home is actually your landlord’s property.  Even if he or she would allow it, installing solar probably still wouldn’t be a good idea because you can’t easily take the solar system with you when you move out.

Second, do you consume enough electricity?  While the cost of a solar system is mostly related to the its size (number of panels), there are also fixed costs your installer will incur when it arranges your installation.  These costs are the same whether you have a very small or a very large system.  Examples include taking measurements, getting permits, coordinating with your utility, and so forth.  In general, we find that homeowners whose average or typical electric bill is $75 or more are mostly likely to benefit from solar.

Third, is your roof appropriate for solar?  This is the most difficult question for most people to answer because many of the factors that go into answering it are not black-and-white.  In general, a roof’s appropriateness comes down to five factors:

  1.  Age
  2.  Orientation (to the sun)
  3.  Slope
  4.  Shading
  5.  Size

Roof Age

Your roof’s age is critical in determining whether you have a house good for solar.  A rooftop solar system should last more than 20 years.  A roof that was replaced recently is an ideal candidate for solar because the roof will generally last as long as the solar system.  In contrast, an old roof may not be as good a fit.

What if your roof is “middle-aged?”  The economics still work out for a roof five to ten years old, but you might consider replacing your roof before you get solar if it’s much older than that.

Roof Orientation

The ideal roof for solar faces south, although a viable system can be installed on an east- or west-facing roof, too.  

Roof Slope

Roof slope also plays a role in determining if your home is good for solar, because it determines how directly the sun’s rays will hit solar panels.  In Chicago, the sun’s elevation in the sky changes by season.  In winter, the sun is at its lowest; in summer, its highest.

In Illinois, the ideal solar roof forms a 20° angle with the ground. However, even a roof at a 45° angle can support a productive solar system.

If you have a flat roof, we can generally mount the panels so that they achieve the ideal angle.

Roof Shade

It may seem obvious, but a rooftop solar system needs light from the sun to produce electricity.  Thus, a shaded roof is not ideal for solar.  However, it’s not always obvious how much shade is too much.  If you have tall trees that cast shadows over your whole roof for hours at a time, your roof isn’t ideal for solar.

Shading is one factor that you may be able to control.  By trimming certain trees, you could increase the viable roof space for a solar system.

Roof Size

The size of your roof will also determine how big a solar system you can install.  Needless to say, a house with a very small roof cannot support a very big solar system.

How can Certasun help?

Certasun will be happy to assess your home’s suitability for solar.  Just fill out the consultation form below.

Free Consultation

Enter your information below for a completely-free, no-obligation consultation.

We will only use your information to do a preliminary analysis of your home and to contact you to schedule an email, phone, or in-person consultation.

Illinois Solar Incentive Countdown

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