Solar panels for residential use have become a lot more popular recently. Firstly, they offer a clean and renewable energy source for your home while reducing your dependence on fossil fuels and contributing to a greener environment. Secondly, solar panels are helping people like you save a lot of money on their electricity bills by generating free electricity from sunlight. Still, how to get started remains a mystery for many households.
In this guide, we want to provide you with all the essential information you need to know about harnessing the power of solar energy to bring sustainable electricity to your home. We wrote this guide in collaboration with our partner Atum – a marketplace dedicated to providing a seamless, transparent, and cost-effective solution for acquiring solar panels and complementary battery storage systems. So it is easy to follow, we have divided the guide into two parts: all you need to know before and after the installation. Click on the links below if you want to skip to any of the sections below:
- Solar energy: why it’s important and beneficial for residential use
- How to assess your home’s suitability for solar panels
- How to select the right solar panel system for your home
- How to select the right solar panel installer
- How to make sure you are complying with all regulations
- How to make the most of our solar panel system
Solar energy: why it’s important and beneficial for residential use
Powering your home with solar energy has many benefits. Firstly, solar energy is clean and sustainable since sunlight is an abundant and renewable energy source. Thus, installing solar panels in your home allows you to generate your own electricity, reducing your reliance on the grid and traditional energy sources and lowering your electricity bills.
Acquiring solar panels is also becoming much more attractive for many as governments and local authorities also provide incentives and financial support for residential solar installations. These incentives can include tax credits, grants, rebates, and favorable financing options, making solar more affordable and attractive for people like you.
In addition, producing one’s own solar energy can be particularly advantageous in remote areas with limited grid infrastructure. For instance, if your property is not connected to a local electricity grid, you can install an off-grid solar system to provide your home with the electricity it needs. An off-grid solar system generates and stores electricity from solar panels, allowing it to operate independently from the power grid.
In a grid-connected property, you can use a hybrid solar system. With these systems, you can install a solar battery to store excess energy or
pull in cheap electricity from the grid at night for later use. Integrating different energy sources optimizes energy production, enhances self-sufficiency, and provides greater control over electricity usage, making hybrid solar systems an attractive option for residential use.
Moreover, a solar panel setup can increase the value of your home. Solar installations are desirable for potential buyers because they offer long-term energy savings and environmental benefits.
Lastly, you can customize your solar panel system according to your needs and upgrade it over time to accommodate changing energy requirements.
Before the installation
How to assess your home’s suitability for solar panels
Even if going solar is one of the hottest household investments, you still have to evaluate whether your home or property is suited to install solar panels. These factors will help you decide whether solar panels are a viable and beneficial option for your property. Here are some of the factors to consider:
- Sun exposure: The best place to install solar panels is in your home, where they would receive the maximum amount of sunlight from sunrise to sunset. The more direct sunlight your home receives, the more power the panels will produce, which is extremely important. In addition, consider if there are big trees that could block sunlight from reaching your panels, as this will affect their performance and production. In most cases, you don’t have to chop down whole trees but trimming away branches should work fine.
- Roof condition: Solar panels work best with solid and durable roofing materials like concrete tiles or standing seam metal. For other materials like wood shake or slate tile, you need to find an installer with experience on those types of roofs. In addition, you should make sure that your roof is in good shape. Mainly, if a roof renovation is coming soon, you’ll want to avoid unnecessarily removing the panels.
How to select the right solar panel system for your home
Solar panels are not one size fits all. We spoke with our friends at Atum to tell us exactly how to select the right solar system and the number of panels you need to power your home.
Atum’s Co-Founder and Head of Operations, Janne Korhonen, had this to say about configuring your solar system:
The right solar energy system for you is dependent on your needs. A good rule of thumb for sizing your system is that you should be looking to fulfill a third of your yearly energy consumption through your solar panels. In Finland, 1kWp of solar panels produce around 850kWh of electricity in a year. This means a 10kWp solar system would generate around 8500kWh of electricity yearly.
After determining the correct size for your solar energy system, the next step would be picking your solar panels and inverter. I strongly favor all-black solar panels with a top layer made of glass. All black makes the roof look great, while the glass construction ensures the panels survive harsh winters (like those in Finland!). If you want to add a solar battery now or in the future, consider getting a hybrid inverter.
Go for the system you believe will last you 20 or 30 years; you’ll save a ton of money in the long run if you go for quality products from the get-go.
How to select the right solar panel installer
For instance, in Finland, the quality of solar installations is very high due to strict regulations on installation. Regardless, it’s wise for you to research local installers and their customer reviews. It’s also good to ensure your local installer has all the relevant certifications and permits to install solar systems. Obtaining multiple quotes can be beneficial for determining the correct price and configuration for your system.
All these aspects are already covered if you go solar through Atum. Atum’s solar experts design and deliver the perfect system for your needs and connect you with a certified local installer from their vast network of electricians. Atum’s installation partners compete for the best quality and price to make sure you, as a customer, get the best bang for your buck.
How to make sure you are complying with all regulations
Depending on where you live, you might need to contact local authorities to let them know about your plans and ensure you comply with all requirements they have set for residential installations. In Finland, there is usually no need to apply for separate permits when solar panels are installed on the roof and the building is not marked for preservation.
However, as going solar is still reasonably new, local authorities and municipalities don’t have harmonized standards. We recommend that you check with local authorities, such as the building supervision authority in your city, before you start your planning. You can find guidance on requirements from the ELY Centre here in Finland.
After the installation
How to make the most of our solar panel system
After an installation you’ll be joining millions of households globally that have decided to produce their own electricity from renewable sources. Going solar is an excellent option to save money on your electricity bills and lower your emissions, and it encourages other people near you to make the change.
Research says that when it comes to climate action, the best way to get others to join the causes is through social learning -when we take cues from others, let’s say, when observing their spending habits. For instance, installing solar panels on your roof might pressure your neighbors to do the same!
Now back to the solar panels; once you’ve installed them, you need to get a feel for them and start playing around with all the different functionalities or setups your inverter might come with. Monitoring your production in real-time is one of the most essential duties of a new solar panel owner. We wrote a blog that digs deeper into the monitoring aspect of your production and how this is critical to maximizing your production.
Besides monitoring in real-time your solar production, there are other essential tips you can follow to make sure you are making the most of your solar panel system:
- Implement energy-conserving practices: Even when you can produce some of the electricity you consume daily, the wiser you are about following energy-conserving practices, the more your self-produced energy will go to better use. Understanding the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency is also important. Conserving energy is all about using less energy to reduce costs and your environmental impact. These practices include turning off lights when not in use, cooking using the right-sized burner, air drying dishes and clothes, and many others.Energy efficiency is using technology and specific products to help you use less energy.
- Use smart home & electricity technology: Thankfully, a lot of new technology is designed to make your electricity consumption smart. These tools come as either hardware devices you can install in your home or as part of an existing device and software solutions that can help you control and monitor your consumption and production wherever you are in the world. For instance, at Synergi, we truly pride ourselves on creating a software platform that combines major home electrical devices like electric vehicles and solar panels for you in the same app. Hardware devices that are gaining immense popularity are smart heat pumps, which keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They can be controlled according to the electricity prices and thus help you reduce your energy consumption and bills.
- Consider energy storage solutions: Some people are buying into energy storage solutions such as solar panel batteries to store their production and use it at a later time. This can be useful as your panels will produce the most energy during the day, so you can store it and use it at night.
Installing solar panels is a move that pays off
In conclusion, installing solar panels benefits you and our planet. It helps to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and pay less for electricity while contributing to a greener and more sustainable future! In addition, solar panels are becoming cheaper by the day, and new technologies are also making them more efficient, so it is becoming a no–brainer investment where you can expect to make the return on your investment even faster.
To get your solar journey started, make sure you check our partners at Atum and their offerings. They can also serve you in English.
PS: Don’t forget to link your inverter to Synergi after the installation 😉