If you are considering installing solar panels in the near future, there are a few things you should know.

Here are 6 Factors to Consider before making the investment:

It is Still a New Consumer Product. Solar technology has been around for quite some time but it has not always been readily available for consumers. Compared to other home renovations and electrical work, there are not as many people who are qualified or experienced to do solar panel installations. Additionally, there are not many customers that have owned a solar power system through its full life-cycle. Ensure that you hire a professional that knows exactly what they are doing.

There Needs to be Enough Light. Is there enough sunlight reaching your roof? If your roof is shaded for most of the day, there may not be enough of a ‘solar window’ to justify the cost of the panels. Ensure that there is enough light to make the project worth your while. Think ahead as well. If you have planted leafy trees around your property, will they eventually obstruct sunlight? Is there construction happening near your home that may block light too?

Make Sure Your Roof is Structurally Sound. Solar installations can come with warranties for 20 to 25 years. Have your roof inspected. If there is some work that needs to be completed in the near future, do it before you install the panels. This way you will not only avoid having to take everything down, but you will avoid paying to have it installed again.

Practice Efficiency. It is important to make your home as energy efficient as possible. The amount of energy you need to produce will be dependent on how much you use. Look for efficiency upgrades for your home before you install.

Find Out How You Can Connect to the Grid. Do you have to pay a fee? How long will set-up take? How and when will you get credited for the electricity you generate? The answers to these questions will be dependent on where you live and what options you go with. Make sure you know all the answers before you make any investments.

Rent or Own? You have the option to rent or buy solar panels. Renting lets you access less expensive electricity, but the benefits are limited. With buying, you pay more up front but have larger dividends. It is a good idea to run a cost-benefit analysis. Weigh the savings of renting against the benefits of ownership. Remember that when you buy a solar power system it can continue producing energy for decades. It is also good to keep in mind that although the panels themselves have quite a long lifespan, other electronic equipment in the system like power inverters may need replacement sooner. Do not forget to factor in replacement costs in your budgeting.

Solar panels can be a great investment. Just make sure you do the research to find out if it is a good fit for you!