Step 3: Determine Your Solar Potential

Solar Technologies work best in the sun! Where does your home get the most sunshine?

Installers might use a tool like a Solar Pathfinder like this one to measure the effects of any shading due to trees or buildings.

Most solar projects need an area that has minimal shading throughout the day and year. Here in Tennessee, unshaded, south-facing roofs are ideal for solar installations.

You can easily check out the potential of your home for solar. Does a large part of your roof face south? Are there trees, buildings, or other objects that cause a lot of shading on that space?

Once you’ve found a good spot, a certified solar installer can do a professional study of your home to find the very best spot for solar.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed a program called In My Backyard (IMBY), which can estimate the electricity you can produce with a solar photovoltaic (PV) array at your home or business.  Click here to learn more.

With this IMBY tool you enter your address and it zooms to your house or business using satellite maps. You then draw on the roof where you want your panels to go and it generates the estimated output. It also provides you with an estimated cost, but it tends to run high so keep in mind the financial incentives that could drive down this cost. The price per watt for this tool is set for $8.00, but this has also gone down recently for Tennessee. Depending on the installation (business or residential), the price per watt could be anywhere from $5.00 to $8.00.

Tennessee has ample solar resource to use for solar technologies. In fact, as you can see in the maps below, it has up to 50% more solar resource than Germany has; yet Germany leads the world in solar technologies by having the most solar panels than any other country.