What You Need to Know Before Going Solar

What You Need to Know Before Going Solar in Indianapolis

Going solar is becoming more common in the U.S. and with incentives such as the new and improved 30% federal solar tax credit (which has been extended through 2032), there are more opportunities for homeowners to look into alternative energy sources. Indianapolis residents may also qualify for state- and city-level programs, including tax exemptions and utility companies paying for excess power generated by your panels. If you’re thinking about adding solar panels to your Indianapolis area home, here’s what you need to know.

Common Questions About Going Solar

Change comes with questions, and plenty of homeowners are learning in-depth about residential solar power for the first time. With that in mind, let’s dive into some of the most common questions about adding solar power to your Indianapolis home.

How Do I Figure Out How Much Solar Power I Need?

To determine how much solar power you need, you'll need to calculate 1) your energy usage and 2) the amount of energy your future solar panels can produce. You can use online calculators or consult with a solar installation company to help you determine the right amount of solar power for your home, or check your past bills for usage history. It's important to consider your current energy usage and any changes in your energy needs that may occur in the future, such as adding a pool or an electric vehicle.

How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel Produce?

The amount of energy a solar panel produces depends on its size, efficiency, and the amount of sunlight it receives. On average, a standard solar panel produces around 300 watts of electricity, while a larger 72-cell panel can produce up to 370 watts. Indianapolis enjoys an average of 187 sunny days a year, making it a valuable spot for collecting solar power.

A residential rooftop solar array can produce between 4,000 and 8,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, depending on the size of the system. Since the average Indianapolis household uses between 12,000 and 14,000 kWh a year, solar panels can take a hefty chunk out of your electricity bill.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

The number of solar panels you need depends on your budget and how much electricity you want to produce. If you’ve already used a calculator or solar panel professional to figure out how much solar power you need, you’re already ahead! Once you have that number, you can divide it by the watts your solar panel can produce to find out how many panels you need to completely fulfill your home electricity needs with solar power.

Remember, you don’t need to produce as much power as you use every day to get solar panels. Even just offsetting a portion of your energy usage will reduce your electric bills. Your roof only has so much space for panels, after all!

Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?

Yes, installing solar panels increases the value of your home. Studies have shown that homes with solar panels sell for more than homes without solar panels. Rooftop solar arrays are a valuable home improvement that helps you – or any owner – save money on monthly energy bills and reduce the home’s carbon footprint. This is an attractive feature for potential buyers and allows EV owners the possibility of charging their vehicles with free (once the system is paid for) 100% renewable energy.

Common Questions About Solar Panel Maintenance

Solar panels are generally low maintenance, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

How to Clean Solar Panels

Keeping your solar panels clean is important to ensure they produce as much energy as possible. For the most part, rain takes care of most debris, but if it’s been dry, dusty, or it’s pollen season in Indianapolis, you might need to clean them yourself. Plan to clean your solar panels at least once or twice per year, in the spring and fall.

Before you tackle this job, check the owner’s manual for your particular model of solar panels; there might be a recommended method. In general, here’s how to clean most solar panels:

  1. Use a soft brush or cloth and a gentle soap solution. Wash the surface of the solar panel.

  2. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that can damage your solar panels.

  3. Once you’ve washed the panels, rinse the soap off with a spray from the hose.

  4. Either let the panel air-dry or use a squeegee to remove excess water.


Always use a sturdy ladder to climb to the roof, and make sure you have a spotter to help. Roof-mounted panels can be dangerous to clean, especially in slippery winter weather, so you may want to hire a professional team to clear the snow or debris from your solar array.

Do Solar Panels Work with Snow on Them?

Indianapolis enjoys snowy winter weather, typically seeing snowfall from November to March. Panels can still produce electricity even with light snow on them, but their efficiency may be reduced. A dusting of snow will have minimal effect on energy output, and panels can even work better in the cold since they won’t reach their maximum temperature and overheat.

If it snows heavily, you’ll need to clear off your panels with a soft snow brush before they can produce energy again.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Properly installed solar panels can last 20 to 30 years. Most modern solar panels have a degradation rate of about 0.5% per year, which means they’re about half a percent less effective every year. At the end of a 30-year lifespan, those panels would still be operating at about 85% of their original capacity. Eventually, the solar cells degrade to the point where they need to be replaced.

Going Solar? We Can Help

Ready to let the sun do some of the heavy lifting on your power bills? The pros at Mister Sparky of Indianapolis can help with your solar upgrade project, performing recommended panel upgrades before your solar installer begins work, re-routing wiring so your EV charger draws from the solar array, and more. Call us at (317) 342-0959 or book online to get the process underway.