More and more homeowners have been warming up to the idea of generating at least some of their electricity from solar panels. In fact, 2013 was a banner year for installations, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), with more than 140,000 new solar energy systems implemented.
If you’re interested in joining the ranks of homeowners generating power from the sun, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider first. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) suggests that you determine whether there are any restrictions around solar energy from local municipalities or your homeowners association (you may be required to submit your plans to the association for approval, if your community has one). You’ll also need to understand the permitting process, comply with any local codes and tally up the installation costs, among other things.
And, of course, as with any home improvement project, you’ll want to know what the potential insurance implications might be. Talk to your agent well in advance of your purchase for information on that front.
Residential solar energy installations are typically covered as part of a standard homeowners policy, according to the DOE, as long as the panels are mounted on the roof. Check with your agent to be sure if that’s the case with your own policy. If you’re considering a ground-mounted system, you may need additional coverage, the DOE says.
But, even if you’re considering roof-mounted panels, you may need to tweak your existing coverage limits to accommodate the new solar energy system.
For instance, if your home suffers damage covered under your policy and your solar energy system is damaged as well, you’ll want to be sure that the cost to repair or replace your solar energy system doesn’t exceed the current coverage limits on your policy. Talk to your agent to help decide whether adjusting your limits to accommodate your incoming solar electric system is right for you.
The DOE also suggests asking your agent whether you need to be aware of any issues that might affect the existing coverage for your roof, such as any roof penetrations that might occur during installation.
Whatever is driving your interest in solar energy, be sure to do your due diligence before moving forward. And then you can rest easy and enjoy the benefits of generating electricity by harnessing the ever-abundant power of the sun.