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Some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Hot Water for Your Home

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A solar hot water heater can cut down on your utility bills and help to reduce the pollution created by electrical power plants. A solar panel for the water heater itself is also a good solution if you want to switch to solar power but your roof cannot support larger solar panels, or you can't afford them right now. By using a solar panel for your hot water heater, you're reducing at least some of the electricity your home needs. Note a few of the most commonly asked questions about solar hot water for your home.

1. Are solar panels covered by homeowner's insurance?

You can usually get these panels added to your coverage or have it put in writing that they will be covered in case of damage due to storms or vandalism. You also want to ensure that your homeowner's insurance will cover the increased value of your home if you were to add solar panels. Don't assume that solar panels for a hot water heater are automatically covered by your current policy, but do your research with your insurance company before having them installed and ask for an additional rider that spells out this coverage specifically.

2. Do solar panels work on a flat roof?

Solar panels usually need to be tilted in order to have full access to the sun's rays, but this doesn't mean they won't work on a flat roof. Your installer may be able to add some type of support so that the panels tilt up as they should. If you plan on installing your own panels, be sure you discuss with your supplier the shape and angle of your home's roof so you know if you need braces or supports to tilt them as needed.

3. How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels are specifically made to withstand harsh weather conditions including snow, sleet, hail, and the like, and some can last 40 years or more. However, remember that the quality of workmanship and materials used for panels will affect their longevity. It's good to note the warranty of any solar panel you choose as you may be trying to figure the cost of their installation versus the money you will save.

As an example, if a solar panel means saving only $10 per month on your electric bill, this translates into saving $120 per year. If you choose a cheaper panel made with inferior materials that has a warranty of only ten years, that's $1200 you'll save over the expected life of your solar panel. If the panel and its installation cost $1500, it may not be a good investment. Be sure you understand their lifespan versus the savings you can expect so you choose the right panels for your home.