Going Solar at Home, Step-by-Step

Updated: Mar 19, 2021


Photo: Gustavo Fring - Pixels.com


We just bought a new home (for us). Actually, the house itself is approaching 15 years old. But it has a brand new roof because of the damage done to the old one in a 2019 hailstorm. The way the roof was designed it has surface exposure in all four directions. We live in Northern Colorado which tourism bureau and real estate industry tout “300 days of sunshine per year.” I cannot go outside to dump the trash, cut the lawn or walk up the street to our neighborhood mailboxes without being accosted by a solar salesperson.


Being pre-disposed to lowering our carbon footprint and conserving electrical energy, over the past few years living in our previous home, we had been receiving a “Home Energy Report” from our City of Fort Collins Utilities. These quarterly reports always indicated that our electrical usage had varied from 7% more electricity, to our most recent report of “17% less energy than ‘efficient’ neighbors.” In every report we used significantly less electricity than our “average neighbors.”


Maybe now was a good time for seriously looking into the feasibility of moving to solar power. My investigation started with researching and understanding some of the industry’s common terminology and coming up with some basic questions.


Solar Power Word Play


What’s a Kilowatt (kW) compared to a Kilowatt Hour (kWh)? How many of those do I need to power all the devices in our home? What’s the difference between AC power and DC power? Why should I care? What’s a “solar inverter?” How do Solar Panels get made and how do they work? Whose are the most reliable and best performing? How many am I likely to need? What’s an Investment Tax Credit for Solar (ITC) and how do I get it? What’s all this likely to cost? Are solar panels worth it? Here are some useful resources: https://www.solarpowerauthority.com/solar-term-glossary https://understandsolar.com/solar-terms

https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-energy-glossary


Photo: skeeze by Pixabay.com


Next I thought it might be a good idea to interview a few friends and neighbors who had some experience with rooftop solar. They all told me they felt good about not having to completely rely on the power grid and also being able to contribute to the environment by taking advantage of renewable energy. None told me it was saving them any money. Nerd that I am, a couple showed me their software monitoring application. Everyone made a recommendation of a solar installation company to investigate based on their own experiences


Online Research