Having the right resources can make going solar easy and affordable. And we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to help you do just that.
Below is a list of industry-leading resources for residential solar installation. Not only can these organizations help you learn what type of home solar power system you’ll need, but even which financing options and solar rebate programs are available, as well as tips to find the right solar contractor for you.
You’ve dreamed about it. You’ve poked around online looking at solar costs and types of panels. Now you can take that extra step to finally wean your home off fossil fuels, cut your electrical bills now, and save money for years to come.
Here are 7 killer resources for going solar in 2012.
1. Finding Contractors
At CalFinder, we’re in the business of connecting you with great solar contractors. We know each contractor, we carefully review their work, and we match them with interested homeowners nearby. All it takes is a few minutes to get your home assessed for its maximum solar potential.
For pricing and solar contractor referrals, click here.
2. Solar Incentives
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a good source for information on state, local, utility and federal incentive programs that can sometimes cut the cost of residential PV installations by up to 60% or more. The programs are periodically reviewed, but sometimes the site may contain outdated information or broken links. Still, DSIRE remains the most comprehensive source for information about incentive and rebate programs.
We also maintain a list of solar rebates broken down by state, but in a more easy-to-understand format. Solar incentive data can be difficult to digest, so we’ve done our best to make it accessible to all.
3. How Much Electricity Should You Offset with Solar?
The first step to going solar is to determine whether your home is a good candidate for a home solar power system. Part of that process is calculating how much electricity your home is using now. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects, analyzes and reports on energy information, including statistics about how much electricity the average American home consumes.
Check out their user-friendly FAQ page to access specific data. The Energy Department has some basic information about how solar works and what to consider before making the decision to go solar.
4. Top Solar Panel Brands
Wikipedia offers a list of the top 10 solar manufacturers, gleaned from an annual report put out by Photon Magazine, an industry subscription publication. Another industry organization, Solar Buzz, also reports annually on the rankings of solar manufacturers.
5. Industry Information
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is the leading national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. SEIA releases quarterly reports on the state of the industry. In addition, a contractor who is an SEIA member is likely to be experienced and reputable. SEIA recently merged with the solar advocacy organization Solar Alliance.
6. Solar Price Calculators
CalFinder has links to a number of online calculators that can help you calculate what sized system you’ll need for your home. We also provide info on how many solar panels you’ll need.
7. Solar Chat Forum
Solar Panel Talk offers a online forum for people interested in learning more about solar energy systems. From conventional residential solar systems, to off-grid and DIY applications, you can chat about it all.
Did we miss anything?
Pipe up! We’re happy to hear your suggestions in the comments.