I live in Michigan. And yes, I know that the name Michigan conjures up images of freezing rain, snow storms, weather shutting down schools and freeways (as well as the automotive industry and unions threatening to go on strike, but that is a separate post). But the fact of the matter is that we get a lot of sunshine in Michigan, far more than most people expect, especially where I live in Southeast Michigan. When I first moved here (almost 20 years ago) we almost did get snowed in during September and October, but that has not happened in a long time. The summers last longer, and the winters are shorter and less severe. And with sunny 90+ degree weather this week (in October!) I’ve been thinking …
I have a large roof on my house, with lots of out-of-the-shade south facing surface area, perfect (I have been told) for solar panels. And while I understand the technology involved in harnessing solar power, what I am missing are practical answers and advice from those who have researched, and utilize, solar power.
So, if you have any experience that you can share, here are some questions …
- Solar power is popular in California, and Arizona, and other more sun-drenched locations. Is it as viable (or even cost effective or justifiable) in the Midwest?
- We do get snow and icy weather, usually in December through February. How does this type of weather impact solar equipment, if at all?
- I have seen all sorts of installation and setup costs, from one extreme to the other, but have not been able to fully ascertain what the true costs are. Does anyone have real-world experience here?
- What are the unforeseen costs? Things like roof structural requirements due to panel weight, or cost of panel replacement, or ongoing maintenance costs?
- What else am I not thinking of here?
Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.