Oregon is considered an environmentally-friendly state. So, it should come as no surprise that renewable energy sources are very popular here.
In 2018, utility-scale, commercial, and residential solar generated approximately 776,000 MWh, or 1.2 percent of all electricity generated in Oregon, making it 18th among all states. In fact, Oregon solar grew more than five-fold between 2015 and 2019.
Solar energy is one of the fastest growing clean energy sources in the U.S. This growth is especially true for residential-based solar power. In fact, solar energy production has increased six-fold since 2014.
However, despite this growth, a relatively small percentage of all homes have solar panels installed. About 3.2 percent of single-family detached homes have installed solar panels.
Here in the Willamette Valley, solar power is quickly becoming a viable, cost-effective option. However, be aware that plenty of salespeople are flooding the market, promising huge rebates and cash back from the excess energy your solar panels will create.
3Rs Construction & Remodeling is here to help you make your home energy-efficient. We are your trusted general contractor in Salem, Oregon.
Factors to Consider for Adding Solar to Your Home
- We have limited sunshine, and even though solar energy can be harvested with cloud cover, it is not as near effective as receiving energy directly from the sun.
- Think about how challenging it can be to get up on the roof to clean your gutters twice a year. Imagine going on the roof and dragging a hose while doing your best not to damage the shingles as you walk around and keep the debris and dust cleaned off the solar panels.
- When you set out to clean the solar panels, you need to be mindful of the temperature of the water in your hose and the time of day. You are likely to create micro-cracks or other damage to the panels if you apply cold water to hot glass, making the panels less effective.
Costs of Installing Solar Panels
A typical solar panel system covering two-thirds of your roof will cost you approximately $20,000. Presuming the panels work seamlessly and can produce enough power to cover your electrical needs, it will take a decade before you break even.
The good news is that solar panels are designed to last around 20 years if everything goes well. (going well means you don’t damage your roof while keeping the solar panels clean, and the weather allows for good, consistent power generation). If this all holds true, your next ten years of power could be free or relatively affordable.
The costs of disposal are ambiguous. The entire solar industry is looking for options to recycle or reuse solar panels. But, at this point, more of them are going into landfills than anywhere else.
What to be Aware of with Solar Panels
There is an entire industry built around selling solar panels. For example, contractors are being told they can add this service for their clients at no additional cost to them. There is also a sizeable potential for profit.
How this works is that anyone who is licensed in construction can add solar panels to the list of products they offer. They can then subcontract the work to a group of installers. They, the contractors, are guaranteed a commission for the project, and they do not bear responsibility for the installation or warranty.
If you intend to purchase solar panels from someone you didn’t research, you could find yourself stuck with a problem trying to figure out who is going to cover the warranty work.
In addition to being a General Contractor, licensed installers must be certified to install solar panels. It is also essential to have a licensed electrician involved to connect the solar panels into the service panel and be able to route excess power out to the grid. It is important to know that this is a specialty service that a general contractor does not normally provide.
Looking for a general contractor you can trust? Contact 3Rs Construction & Remodeling in Salem, Oregon is here to help! Contact us for a FREE quote!
Questions That Need to be Answered from a Solar Panel Installer
- How long has the solar company been in business?
- Have you looked at their reviews online?
- Who specifically will be doing the installs?
- Who is responsible for the warranty work?
- Who do you call when confronted with a problem during the solar install?
- What is the (CCB) construction contractor’s board number of the installers and sellers?
- Are the contractors and installers licensed and bonded in the state of Oregon?
- Have you verified that the rebate amount they are promising is actually available from the state or federal government?
- If the rebate amounts are fluctuating and beginning to go down, what information will you need to provide, to who, and by when?
- How will the rebate come back to you?
- How many kilowatts of power are generated by the type of panel you have installed? How does that compare to other manufacturers solar panels?
- There are new styles of solar panels that are built into shingles and don’t have a shiny glass top. Are these better options?
- Does your HOA allow for solar panels in your neighborhood?
- When the sun reflects off the solar panels, will it cast a potentially damaging stream of light into neighbors’ properties or homes? Again, keep in mind that you may be responsible for any possible damage that is caused by that.
Benefits of Solar Energy
If you invest in solar panels, you will be ahead of the game if you also have them install a car-charging station in the garage and on an outside wall by the driveway.
New incentives are available from the federal government to encourage homeowners to add charging stations. In addition, some local governments, including Salem City Council, are beginning to require charging stations a requirement for new construction.
In time, you should know if this scenario will pan out. But be aware that it is significantly cheaper to add solar panels now than to wait and add them later.
The Case for Solar
We hope that the improvements in solar energy are going to make a huge difference in the future. However, at present, there are still some big hurdles to overcome.
Studies on either side of the solar debate have produced conflicting results. In the Willamette Valley, if you are thinking about installing solar panels on your home, be sure to do the necessary research and consider the expense. Above all, work with a reputable contractor.
Other Ways to Conserve Energy
Most of us want more energy-efficient homes. One way to do this is to install new windows. Your roof, windows, and a lack of insulation are three places where your home loses the majority of it’s warm or cool air.
The good news is that there are windows that provide greater energy efficiency. They do this by offering heat-reflecting Low-E coatings and argon-filled glass. Additionally, wood, fiberglass, and vinyl windows come equipped with energy-efficient options.
At 3Rs Construction, we offer a wide variety of features, options, and materials on our windows for you to choose from. This makes it possible for us to customize a new or replacement window that will perfectly suit your unique preferences.
Adding new insulation is another great way to reduce your energy costs. If one of your main goals is to conserve energy, then it would benefit you to install new insulation.
A well-insulated home is the best way to keep your power bill manageable by enhancing the energy efficiency of your HVAC unit.
3Rs Construction & Remodeling is here to help you with all your energy-efficient construction needs, whether you need your roof replaced, new or upgraded insulation, window replacement, or even an energy audit for your home. We provide expert installation of many of the best products available today. In addition, 3Rs can help prepare you and your home for the changing seasons in Salem, Oregon.