Are You A Candidate For Solar Power?

What to ask before the solar panels arrive

Joy Conca waited two months for this day to happen. She signed up for solar power and installers were finally on top of her Clairemont roof.

"Financially, it is just smart," said Conca, "I'm excited."

But before Joy agreed to pay nearly $20,000 for the solar upgrade, she needed to ask some simple questions. Questions like, can my roof handle the 24 panels?

We asked Daniel Sullivan, with Sullivan Solar Power, what simple questions should people ask before shopping for solar panel.

Sullivan says one of the key questions: Is your roof right for solar energy?

"The solar panels themselves weigh less than 5 pounds per square foot and most every roof in San Diego can accommodate that," said Sullivan. "We rarely come across a roof where the structure wasn't good enough."

But if a roof is older than 10 years, Sullivan suggests people have it inspected to make sure it is in good enough shape to handle solar panels. 

"Nobody wants to install solar panels over a leaky roof," said Sullivan.

Other suggestions: Make sure your roof is facing South, West or East.  The ideal roof is at a 17-degree slant that faces south.

You also need to clear away tall tree that could block the sun.

If you live in a condominium, make sure you have ownership of the roof for the panels. As for renters, most are not able to install solar systems.

The average cost for solar systems in San Diego is between $20,000 and $24,000.  Installation is more expensive over a tile roof than an asphalt roof.

For people who don't have enough roof space, Sullivan says he's created solar awnings, shade structures or put in a ground mounted system.

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