• Adam H. Cooke

What you need to know about Installing Solar Panels on your Home I

If you’ve been thinking about adding a solar power system to your home, you aren’t alone. Some 3 million systems sit atop American roofs, including about 400,000 that were installed each year in 2019 and 2020, according to Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Energy Department.

9 home maintenance tasks for your October to-do list

For many homeowners, the decision to go solar is a two-part process. The first is the financial side: Will the investment ultimately pay for itself and reduce or eliminate electric bills? Assuming the answer is yes, then you are ready to dive into the second — and more practical — part of the process: How do I get quality solar photovoltaic panels installed at my home by trustworthy professionals? Here are answers to some basic questions to get you started.


  • How does solar work?

  • Is my roof good for solar

  • My roof is kind of old. Does that matter?

  • Are all solar panels alike?

  • What is degradation?

  • Do panels work in all climates?

How does Solar Work?

Multiple panels are wired together into a solar array. When sunlight hits the panels, the energy is converted into usable electricity. Your home consumes the electricity produced by the system. The solar array connects to the local grid, so you receive electricity when panels aren’t producing enough or any electricity. The grid also stores any excess solar energy you produce and, through “net metering,” ensures you get credit for all of the electricity your system creates, whether you consume it immediately or send it to the grid and use it later. Energy efficiency helped the Empire State Building save money and cut carbon. It can help you, too.

Is my roof good for solar?

Adequate sunlight is key. Solar panels won’t work for rooftops heavily shaded by trees or adjacent structures, says Jason Gonos, co-owner of