Many home and business owners begin their solar journey by consulting an online solar system calculator to find out how much a solar system might cost and how much they could save on their utility bills by going solar. These online calculators are a great way to start the solar research process; you’ll get a quick estimate in minutes. But, for reasons we’ll explain below, if you are seriously considering solar then the best way to get an accurate calculation of your potential solar savings is to contact a local solar installer.
So when are online solar savings calculators helpful and when are they helpless?
When Online Solar System Calculators Are Helpful
Online solar system calculators help those considering investing in solar energy — especially homeowners — get a glimpse of what going solar will mean for them financially. These online calculators have grown into fairly robust tools that take into account a wide variety of factors to deliver your solar estimate. You’ll be prompted to provide your address and your average monthly electricity bill. Some calculators will also ask about your roofing material, roof pitch, and shading to attempt more accurate estimates.
With this information, the calculator will provide a rough estimate for how many solar panels you would need to offset your electricity usage. Most online calculators will also show your net solar savings over the life of your system and how long it would take for your savings to pay off the cost of the solar system. Though of course it would be impossible for an online calculator to deliver 100% accurate information, they can offer a great first glimpse at your property’s solar potential and how you can benefit from going solar.
What Online Solar System Calculators Are Leaving Out
Online calculators do have their limitations, as they leave out many key factors you need to consider when going solar. Online calculators do not consider the usable square footage of your roof or roof configuration (including dormers, chimneys, etc.). These characteristics can greatly impact the design of your system and may change the number of panels and equipment recommended by a solar specialist.
Online solar system calculators generally don’t ask you about your budget or your goals for going solar, either. There are factors such as financing and solar equipment to consider. Both how you finance your solar energy system and what equipment you install have an influence on the cost of your new system and expected solar savings. You’ll miss out on these personalized details if you rely solely on online calculator tools.
Tip: Get a Free Quote for the Most Accurate Information
While an online solar system calculator can offer an initial estimate to get you started, these estimates are approximations based on averages and limited information. You’ll want to work with accurate and complete numbers, not an approximation, when you are ready to explore the true potential of solar for your home. The best way to obtain accurate information is to get a free custom quote from a local solar installer.
Along the way you’ll likely reach out to a few solar installers for competitive quotes. Read up on kilowatts and kilowatt hours so you can better understand how to compare solar proposals from different solar companies.
If you have solar questions and are looking for honest answers, please feel free to utilize Namasté Solar’s non-commissioned home solar advisors as a resource. We’re the #1 solar installer in the Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins areas in part because we honestly assess your home’s solar potential. Our goal is to equip you with the necessary information so you can decide whether solar is right for you.