Be aware that you can still get solar power benefits even if you live in a chilly, overcast area. It doesn't need to be like Florida all year round for it to be a big part of your energy savings goals. Great solar power output can come on poor weather days.
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Going with a solar panel system does not mean that you will be ripping off your roof. You can always start small by purchasing outdoor lighting that is run off of solar energy. They'll charge up during the day to light all night, with exception of pre-dawn hours during long winter nights.
For families with four people, a solar energy system should produce approximately 5,000 kilowatts. This allows you to wash and dry five loads of laundry a week, run the dishwasher five times a day and power multiple televisions and lights. When deciding on the system, choose one larger than what you think you need. You can always sell the extra power produced to the electric company.