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Solar Power - Gather Information

Design of system and impact

  • In Michigan, your solar array can be sized up to your energy usage from the previous year. This limit will determine a starting point for your solar array. Your array can be smaller based on your budget.
  • When designing an array, it is important to consider if you will utilize ground mounting or roof mounting. Ground mounting involves a dedicated area of land. Some ground mounting considerations include: Is there enough space for a solar array? Is it possible to install an array that will receive enough sun? How will you manage vegetation around the array? Roof mounting involves a portion of the roof being covered by solar panels. Some roof considerations include: Is there a south facing roof surface? Is the roof old, or in need of replacement? Is the roof strong enough to support the solar array?
Planning solar panels

Warranties and performance of system

  • When considering a solar contractor/installer, be sure to understand all of the warranties and guarantees offered by the company. Do they cover parts and/or labor? What are the limitations (i.e. time, maintenance, etc.)? Does the company offer system maintenance? Are they estimating system performance? What variables will affect this performance?
cracked solar panel

Electric bill savings

  • Call your utility to verify available programs. Remember that savings estimates are only estimates. Savings can vary widely depending on many factors. Some factors include size of array, regular energy usage, unanticipated additional energy usage, changing rates and programs, system performance, weather/sun variance, etc. It is important to remember that the amount of solar you produce, and therefore bill savings, will change throughout the year. In the summer months you will produce much more solar than in the winter months; so, you will receive far less savings on your electric bill in the winter months.
Monthly utility bills. Cost of Utilities. Planning for utility costs in the monthly budget. Electricity bills by state monthly report.

Impacts on property taxes

  • Solar property tax exemptions give homeowners the right to remove the added value of a solar panel system from the valuation of their home for tax purposes. This means that even when the value of your home increases due to a solar system installation, your property taxes will still reflect the pre-solar value of your home (which is almost always lower). Michigan reinstated this tax exemption in 2019.
Close up audit woman calculate on paper document financial data.

Impacts on future sale of home

  • There are differing opinions about home sales that include solar. The buyer could see the solar array as an asset; however, some buyers may not want a home with solar. Please click these links for additional reading about how solar effects home sales and home values.
Exchanging Key to home

Project timeline

  • Get a realistic timeline for construction of your solar array. The timeline should provide buffers for shipping delays, weather delays, etc.
Electricians lifting blue solar module on roof of modern house.


  • Make sure you understand what maintenance will be required for your solar array. Will you be able to perform this maintenance yourself? Does the contractor/installer offer maintenance? Is the maintenance included, or offered at additional cost?
Workman cleaning solar panels

Understanding all costs

  • Be sure that all costs have been discussed. You should know the total cost of the array. If you are financing the solar array, you should have a clear understanding of the payment structure, including interest rates, monthly payment structure, and total cost with principle and interest. Be sure to understand the tax impact (if any) of your solar array.
3D solar/ photovoltaic panels concept, house

Estimate payback period

  • It may also be helpful to estimate your payback period. There are many factors affecting the payback period, including total cost of the array, price for utility electricity, available tax incentives and rebates, and amount of daily sunlight hours. The contractor/installer can help with this calculation, or there are online estimators available for use.
Man using laptop to pay bills