Nov 01

Your Home Solar Checklist – A Beginner’s Guide

How to Prepare Your Home Before Beginning Your Solar Journey Checklist Solar Insure

Adding a solar power system to your home is an excellent method to achieve energy independence and advance toward a sustainable lifestyle. Residential solar energy appeals to many because of its potential to protect the environment and generate electricity affordably. Understanding the necessary preparations to ensure your home is ready for a solar installation is crucial.

If you are considering installing a solar energy system, you must be informed about the process before investing. We will outline the crucial steps to be taken into consideration before the initiation of a solar project.

Assessing your home’s solar potential

Begin by estimating the percentage of your electricity costs you wish to offset with solar power. The solar system size you select should match your home’s energy requirements.

A qualified installer will determine your energy demand based on your electric bills, household equipment usage, and operational hours. This helps determine each appliance’s power consumption and your total daily energy use. Choose a solar system size that meets your current and future energy needs, such as for electric heaters, vehicles, or appliances, with the assistance of your energy provider. A solar pathfinder tool, where you enter your home or business address, can help determine the best panel setup based on its position in the sun and other factors. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has a great calculator for assessing solar to understand your capabilities and needs.

Energy efficiency first

Once you understand your energy usage, you can benchmark it to similar homes and detect any energy vampires to right-size your solar. Whether it’s insulation, conducting an LED lighting retrofit, or appliance upgrade, knowing your energy usage and improving your home’s energy efficiency will help you keep control of your energy needs.

Tips to improve energy efficiency

  • Insulation is critical for maintaining the comfort of your home (warm in the winter and cool during the summer), particularly attic insulation.
  • Investing in energy-efficient windows could help avoid heat loss in wintertime while decreasing solar radiation in the summer, making your house more pleasant all year.
  • Updating to energy-efficient appliances may decrease the environmental impact while saving you money.

Get to know your roof’s condition

Direction and Tilt

The direction and angle of your roof are crucial in maximizing the efficiency of solar panels, which ideally should be positioned perpendicular to the sun. In the United States, a roof surface facing south is most effective for capturing solar energy. However, surfaces facing east or west may also capture a significant amount of the available solar power. The roof’s tilt is determined by measuring the angle from the horizontal plane.


Shading can significantly impact solar panel efficiency, reducing power generation even with slight shading. Therefore, conducting a shading analysis to identify any potential obstructions—such as trees, tall buildings, and chimneys—that could cast shadows on the solar cells is essential. A solar pathfinder tool helps assess power loss due to shading.

How to Prepare Your Home Before Beginning Your Solar Journey Checklist Solar Insure

The shadow of a chimney on solar panels reduces their efficiency (source).

Roof Condition 

A professional inspection is required to determine if the existing roofing material suits photovoltaic cells and won’t compromise the roof’s structural integrity. If repairs or a replacement are necessary, these issues should be resolved before the solar energy system installation.

Financing Your Solar Project 


Purchasing a solar panel system with cash is the most cost-effective method. The main benefit is avoiding monthly payments, taxes, or additional fees.

Solar Financing

Solar financing allows for immediate installation of solar panels with little to no initial outlay. Payment plans involve regular installments over time, plus interest. Options include personal loans, home equity financing, government loan programs, or contractor arrangements.


Under a power purchase agreement, a third party installs and maintains the solar system on your property. You pay them monthly for the electricity produced, saving up to 30% on current monthly utility costs.

HELOC/Cash-Out Refinance

For those considering a home loan modification, cash-out refinancing is an option. This allows you to tap into your home equity for improvements.

Choosing the Right Solar Installer

Installing a solar system can be complex, requiring skilled professionals. You can easily contact Solar Insure to help determine the best installers in your region. Here are some other factors to consider when choosing an installer:

  • A minimum of three years of experience.
  • Proper licensing, registration, and insurance to work on residential solar systems in your area.
  • Certified NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners).
  • A reputation for excellent customer service and quality installations, verified through online reviews.
  • Recommendations from friends or neighbors with solar installations.
  • Compare quotes from multiple installers to ensure you select the best one for the job.

Here is a quick checklist for homeowners shopping for solar to prepare for their new installation. 

Comprehensive Checklist for Homeowners

Home Assessment

  • Check the direction and tilt of the roof.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMEvaluate the condition and age of the roof.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMIdentify potential obstructions (e.g., trees, chimneys).

Energy Efficiency

  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMConduct an energy audit of the home.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMUpgrade to energy-efficient appliances.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMImprove home insulation and sealing.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMInstall energy-efficient windows and doors.

Financial Preparation

  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMResearch available tax credits and incentives.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMDetermine a budget for the solar project.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMExplore financing options (e.g., loans, leases).

Energy Consumption

  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMGather recent electricity bills to estimate current energy usage.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMProject future energy needs (considering home expansions, electric vehicles, etc.).

Solar Installer

  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMResearch potential solar installers.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMSchedule consultations with at least three installers.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMAsk for references and reviews from previous clients.


  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMUnderstand the maintenance requirements.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMSet a schedule for periodic checks and cleaning.
  • undefined Nov 10 2023 12 36 13 4224 AMFamiliarize yourself with the warranty and its terms.


About The Author

Ki Song is a dynamic project management professional and certified scrum master with a six-year track record of success in the solar industry. Renowned for a client-centric approach, Ki excels in steering solar projects from conception to fruition and launching innovative solar products tailored to market demands.