How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Buyer’s Guide for Detroit, Michigan
With the nation’s 12th highest electricity prices, it’s time for Detroit residents to start seriously considering investing in solar power. Michigan homeowners pay an average of 14 cents/kWh for electricity and the price of electricity is only going to continue to rise. With an average 180 sunny days a year, and financial incentives at the federal level that help reduce the cost of your solar power installation, why not make the switch to solar? You could reduce your monthly utility bills by up to 50 percent, while also significantly reducing your carbon footprint—improving the quality of your local environment.
With the installation of solar panel systems on the rise, having them installed on your property is an investment in the future. Solar panels utilize the natural solar power of the sun to generate electricity, which helps you save money. A system also helps reduce carbon footprints and conserve natural resources which helps the planet. With some basic information to help get you started, you can make informed decisions throughout the installation process.
Why Make the Switch to Solar Detroit?
There are benefits to installing a solar power system beyond shrinking your monthly utility bill. For one, you can increase your home’s value. The general rule of thumb is that for every $1 in energy savings, you can expect a $20 increase in your home’s value. Also, studies show that prospective homebuyers are willing to pay a premium for homes with energy efficient features. This is especially true as sustainability-minded millennials begin to flood the housing market. That said, it’s not all good news. If your solar installation increases your home’s value, you may see an increase in your property taxes. While most states provide a property tax exemption for any increases caused by a solar installation, Michigan does not.
Additionally, solar power is very eco-friendly. To put it in perspective, your typical solar installation is 7,500 watts. A system that size can offset/avoid 9,606 lbs of carbon emissions each year– the equivalent of what is absorbed by 50 trees a year, or the amount of CO2 emissions released by driving 12,000 miles in your car in one year.
Solar Panel Installation Permits for Detroit
The State of Michigan requires that any contractor hired to install a solar panel system must be a resident of Michigan and be licensed by the State of Michigan. The permit must be applied for and attained prior to starting the installation project. Your contractor should be the one to initiate the application process so state licensing information can be provided. You can read more about this at the IREC (Interstate Renewable Energy Council) website. For information about applying, frequently asked questions, forms, and fees for an electrical permit, visit the City of Detroit website. You can also call (313)224-3228.
Hiring Solar Contractors in Detroit
At the IREC site you’ll find information specifying that an electrical contractor’s license is required for PV (photovoltaic) solar systems. At the City of Detroit site specific to permits, under the frequently asked questions, it also explains the electrical contractor should have their license with them, at all times. Ask to see the license and make note of the license number then verify that it is a valid license through the Electrical Inspection Division before hiring a contractor.
Unless you know someone who can recommend a licensed contractor, when doing your own research, contact several contractors for an estimate that lists all costs, time for installation, warranty information, and any miscellaneous charges. Compare the estimates and follow up by checking each contractor’s credentials as noted above. You can also do a check at the Better Business Bureau to find out about any negative interaction, complaints, or lawsuits filed by unhappy customers.
Considerations for Solar Installation in Detroit
Several factors come into play involving the installation of a solar system.
- First, your roof needs to be able to support the heavy panels.
- Any repair work or new roofing should be done prior to solar installation.
- If your roof is unable to maintain the weight of the panels, the solar system can be set up on the ground as long as there is enough room to accommodate the size of the panels.
- Your property will also need to have unobstructed access to solar rays whether the system is installed on the roof or ground. This means no tall trees or shrubbery to interfere with the solar process. Since Detroit receives on average 183 sunny days each year, it’s important to maximize each day to the fullest.
- Tighten up your home prior to installation by caulking around windows and doors, replacing weather stripping, plugging any holes or crack, and any other home improvement project needed to seal your home from leaks.
Detroit’s Climate for Solar Power
Detroit receives an average 30 inches of rain each year (slightly less than the national average), but that shouldn’t affect the capacity of your solar installation as UV rays can still be absorbed in the rain. Since most panels are installed at a slant, the rain also has the added benefits of giving your solar panels an extra cleaning, making them more effective at absorbing the sun’s rays. In terms of long Detroit winters—33 inches of snow and 105 partly cloudy days, your solar power system is still in good shape.
Cloudy days (even consecutive cloudy days) only reduce the capacity of your system by about 5-10 percent. The 180 sunny days you experience throughout the year will more than make up for that nominal decrease in efficiency. When it comes to snow, your system can still operate under light snowfall. The bright white snow on the ground and your roof is also great at reflecting UV rays and helping your system operate at an even higher capacity. The only time a problem occurs is if snowfall is heavy and completely covers your panels. In that case, you’ll either need to wait for the weather to warm up so that the snow can melt and slide off your panels (which will also give them a good cleaning similar to rain) or get a roof rake to clear your panels. If heavy snowfall is on your panels, it is a good idea to take care of it sooner rather than later to get your system back up and running and to avoid putting stress on your panels from the weight of snow and ice. Use extreme caution and perhaps hire a professional when working on your roof in such slick conditions.
Types of Solar Panels in Detroit
- Grid Tie – this type of system lets you take advantage of net metering which allows you to feed excess electricity back to the main grid and be paid for it.
- Off Grid System – this system provides 100 percent of the electricity to your home. Excess is stored in a battery-powered backup for future use.
- Grid Tie and Battery Backup – this system is a combination of the grid and battery system. Excess power is routed back to the grid. In case of a power outage, the system works on its own providing electricity to designated areas of the home.
Available Solar Resources in Detroit
Solar power is an important option when compared to depleting natural fuel sources. It also lessens the impact of harmful toxins to the environment. Because solar is a smart investment, many programs and incentives are available to make the investment worthwhile.
There is a 30% federal tax credit for homeowners who install a solar power system. There is no dollar limit on this credit and it is available through December 31, 2019. After 2019, the credit will still exist, but the percentage decreases significantly with each passing year. The credit can be applied directly to the amount you owe the IRS. If the credit exceeds your tax liability, you can carry it over to the next tax year.
Michigan also offers net metering. Net metering allows you to essentially “bank” any excess energy that you produce. So for instance, if your system is operating at peak capacity in the summer, meeting more than 100% of your energy needs, your utility company will bank the excess energy and apply a credit to your account. During periods of the year where it is cloudy or snowy for long periods of time and your system isn’t meeting your full energy needs, you can access those credits for use at that time. Michigan has a very strong net metering law that lets you carry over all Net Excess Generation (NEG) at the full retail electricity rate. NEG credits are applied to your next month’s bill, and if you continue to run a surplus, the credits can be carried over indefinitely to apply toward future charges.
- Energy Star –Through December 31, 2019 receive 30 percent federal tax credits when installing solar energy systems.
- LARA Public Service Commission – this website provides additional information about tax credits and incentives.
- U.S. Department of Energy – The Database for State Incentives & Renewable Energy website currently has 76 available programs in Michigan offering funding, incentives, loans, grants, tax credits and rebates.
When all is said and done, you can expect an average savings of $36 per month on your utility bill. Multiple that times the life span of your system to calculate your long-term savings and reap the rewards and benefits that a solar panel system will add to your home.