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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Going Solar: A How-To-Guide for Homeowners

Mar 30, 2020 08:00AM ● By Michael Allen

Solar energy is a bright, growing trend in communities across the country.  Families are choosing to switch to clean, renewable energy through solar. This switch means real savings and energy independence: Instead of “renting” electricity from the power company, homeowners can choose to make their own, and reduce their bills in the process.

There’s an easy path to follow for home solar installation. Typically, homeowners start with an audit of their property to provide details about the home’s roof, the garage roof and other available space. The audit also covers current energy usage at the home, the age of the shingles and the availability of any applicable incentives.

Dave Cornille, a homeowner in Plymouth, met with an installer from All Energy Solar when he was interested in “going green” in his new home. “They provided an analysis of our property and we realized that it would be a relatively short payback time. All Energy explained the tax credits, rebates and that our excess energy (if we had some) would be sold to the electric company,” Cornille states.

If home solar is a good fit, the next step is to gather more data. Online resources can provide great analysis to further build the case. For residents living in Minnesota, the Minnesota Solar Suitability Analysis app,, is easy to use; it shows approximately how much sun shines on the property’s rooftop just by entering an address in the search box.

Finding the Right Installer

Homeowners should seek out a qualified, locally based installer for the project and ask for a free quote. It’s smart to verify the installer is fully licensed and an actual building contractor. It’s also prudent to ask around in the community and find out with which installers homeowners have already worked in addition to requesting references from the installer under consideration.

Top 10 Questions to Ask

Here are the best questions for a homeowner to ask a solar installer:

1.     What is the total cost of the solar system?

2.     What is the timeline for this investment?

3.     What will the system look like once installed?

4.     Will the system be net metered?

5.     How much will the homeowner pay up front, and how much over time, for how long?

6.     How much electricity will the system generate each year?

7.     Are there any energy production guarantees that are offered?

8.     If there is a blackout, what will happen to the system?

9.     What do the warranties cover and what are their durations?

10.  Does the homeowner qualify for any tax credits or other incentives?

Start Making Energy

Once a homeowner chooses solar, it delivers measurable results, as Keith Snow has experienced. He installed panels on his earth home. “It’s really easy to monitor how much the panels are generating—I check it every day on my tablet. And I’m making really good power, even in the winter. I made 1870 KW more energy than I used last year,” Snow shares. “I use it to charge my car, too. I’m probably the greenest person in Waseca Township.”

 Michael Allen is the CEO and co-founder of All Energy Solar, headquartered in St. Paul and serving customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts. All Energy Solar provides a full-service solar energy integration experience for residential, commercial, agricultural and government customers looking to make the transition to solar energy. The company provides accurate return-on-investment forecasting, direct financing and hands-on help navigating the incentive and rebate process. With industry-leading certifications and full electrical and building licenses, All Energy Solar installs quality solar power systems at competitive prices and monitors and maintains the systems after installation. To learn more, visit