Is Your Home Ready for Solar? A Checklist for Potential Solar Panel Owners

Going solar isan enormous commitment, especially when it comes to installing panels on your own home. While the long-term benefits like lower electric bills and smaller carbon footprint can be substantial, not every house is suited for an efficient solar panel system. The experts over at Vivint Solar tell us that before you decide to invest in solar power for your home, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate your home’s solar readiness to avoid disappointments or unexpected costs down the road. This checklist covers the key assessments you should make to determine if your home is truly ready for solar success.

Direction and Angle of Your Roof

In the northern hemisphere, south-facing roofs offer the highest solar production potential. Unobstructed east-west roof planes can also work well. To achieve optimal angling, the tilt of your roof should be within 15 degrees of your latitude. So in the lower 48 states with their more southern latitudes, roofs angled between 20 to 40 degrees from horizontal tend to be in the ideal tilt range. Too flat or steep significantly reduces system efficiency.

Amount of Usable Roof Space

Most residential solar systems require between 200 to 400 square feet of open and sunny roof space per household for ample energy production. With panels typically taking up 10 x 5 feet each, you can calculate your solar panel capacity by dividing your usable roof area by 50 to 100 square feet per panel. Keep in mind other rooftop structures like chimneys, vents and fans take up potential real estate too.

Roof Condition and Warranty

Before installing solar panels with anchor bolts drilled into the roof and wiring threaded through attic space, the roof must be in excellent shape structurally and weatherproofing-wise. Most solar installers require at least 10 years left on your current asphalt shingle or metal roof warranty to avoid any issues. If your roof is aged, replacing it first provides the opportunity to correct any structural issues and maximize solar performance.

Shading Conditions Throughout the Year

Even small sections of roof shaded by trees or other buildings dramatically lower solar energy capture because of the way panels are wired together. Make notes through each season on how much sunlight directly reaches your potential panel area versus shadows that creep across, which shift throughout the year as sun angles change.

Home Energy Use Patterns

Track your hourly electric use over months to assess if high-drain appliances like AC coincide with solar production times, which vary by season. East-west facing panels will bridge early and late day gaps too. Understanding your usage is key to right sizing a system.

HOA Rules and Permitting Requirements

Homeowner associations and neighborhoods have their own requirements regarding home solar installations when it comes to visibility, panel colors and mounting styles. Be sure to research the specific covenant conditions and get necessary approvals before installation. Your city permit office can also clarify any solar specific structural regulations, fees and inspection processes required.

Financial Incentives and Energy Policy

State, federal, and local incentives like tax credits along with favorable net metering policies make going solar much more attainable. Net metering allows you to get retail credit for unused solar electricity sent to the grid, rolling credited energy from month to month. Research all incentives in your area as they significantly improve the solar payback timeline.


Evaluating all these aspects of your home means you can determine if solar power is a viable investment that will provide clean, sustainable electricity and savings for decades. Weigh both the practical readiness factors along with available financial incentives before deciding to buy into home solar.