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  • Steps to Take When Considering Solar

    Efficiency / location / financing - the big things to consider!

    Many people are interested in integrating solar technology into their homes and/or businesses but don't know where to begin.  Here are some factors to consider before making a decision to install solar.

    1. Decide what you will use solar for: hot water, electricity, or pool heating. Each of these has a Water Heatingdifferent kind of solar “panel,” although you can use the PV (electric) panels to power an electric water heater. Separate solar water heating panels are used with both gas and electric water heaters, since you still need a backup system.
    2. Consider energy efficiency improvements first. Have you had an energy audit to tell you what improvements will save you the most energy? With this information, and appropriate home improvements, you can reduce your electric and water heating load so the solar you do install can be smaller…and cheaper!

    3. Where will the solar panels go?  You will need to decide if the panels should go on the ground, on a pole or on your roof. This will depend on the layout of your property, cost, aesthetics, etc. You need to have an unshaded location where PV panels face south or southwest to maximize the electricity produced.  Pool heating mats or coils have more flexibility for locating.

      Since many solar installations are on your roof, and it’s often the sunniest place, you need to think about a few roof issues before going solar. Solar panels are guaranteed for 25 to 30 years and would need to be removed for a complete roof replacement, so if you think your roof will need to be replaced in the next 10 years, it’s a good idea to replace it BEFORE you install solar. Generally speaking if your flat roof is sound and you only anticipate having to recoat it periodically, this can be done with the panels in place. Solar installers are careful about filling in any holes they need to drill in the roof to mount solar panels so there should not be any leaks. If you are concerned about a roof warranty being affected by installing solar panels, you should contact your roof company before installing the panels. Solar panels must be installed to meet local wind codes and thus are anchored to the roof beams of the house, shed, garage, or other building, so they will not blow away or damage the roof. The inspection of the installation by the appropriate local jurisdiction will assure that all local codes are being complied with.

    4. Review your electric bills to determine the potential size of a PV system to discuss with a solar installation company. You may want to look at one of the many online solar calculators to get some idea of how much solar you could put on your property and what it could produce. Check out one of these solar calculators.
    5. Research financing options. You now have many choices, including leases, loans with various initial payments, home equity loans, etc. Before making a decision, check out solar financing options and incentives.

    6. Contact local solar installers for free quotes. Be sure to get all your questions answered, especially concerning warranties, maintenance, and all financing options they offer. Here is a list of local installers. Remember, if you hire an installer from Phoenix or California, they will be that much further away if you need service on your system. Be sure the installer gets a permit, too!
    7. You can benefit from solar even if it's not on your roof.  Another option is Community Solar.

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    Solar One Stop

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    the Pima Association
    of Governments
    and the City of Tucson.

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    For more information,
    contact Betty Stamper,
    Pima County
    Development Services
    201 N. Stone, 1st Floor
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    (520) 724-6463
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