If you’re looking for a way to help save the earth and your wallet, then solar panels are a well-known investment that can save homeowners money on electric bills by producing eco-friendly energy.
Solar panels harness the power of the sun to produce renewable energy to homes, eliminating harmful emissions and supplying homes with their own power source. However, the upfront cost of solar panel technology is expensive, and homeowners may wonder if the price of a rooftop solar system is worth it.
Before you go solar, there are some important factors you will want to consider.
- 1. Does It Make Sense for My Home?
- 2. What is My Roof Structure?
- 3. Do I Have Too Much Shade?
- 4. What Do They Cost?
- 5. Are Incentives Available?
- 6. Can I Finance Solar Panels?
- 7. Will I Need a New Roof?
- 8. What Happens If I Move?
- 9. Will I Still Need to Be Connected to the Grid?
- 10. What If I Get Excess Energy?
- 11. Can I Lease Panels Instead of Buying Them?
- 12. Do I Need a Permit?
- 13. What About Warranties?
- 14. What Are the Best Kind of Solar Panels?
- 15. How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
- FAQ About Things to Consider Before Switching to Solar Panels
1. Does It Make Sense for My Home?
Whether solar panels are a worthwhile investment differs on an individual basis.
Areas with high electricity bills and high levels of sunlight are the best conditions for making a solar array a great home investment. You don’t have to live in a sunny area for your solar panels to be effective, although sunny climates increase productivity more than areas that receive a lot of regular cloud cover.
It is a myth that solar panels don’t perform well in cold weather; the cold does not affect them. In fact, panels can generate more electricity during the winter than in the summertime.
Before going solar, you will want your home inspected to determine if your roof is suitable. Some old homes don’t have the structural stability to withstand the weight of such heavy equipment.
2. What is My Roof Structure?
Shape, angle, and space of the roof all affect how suitable a roof is for solar panels. Ideally, solar panels should be set at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees.
Generally the solar array requires a minimum of 200 square feet of roof. The larger your roof, the better.
Chimneys, skylights, and pipes can interfere with the area needed for solar panels. They should not be placed too close to any such rooftop protrusions.
You will want to install solar panels on a durable, sturdy roof in good condition. A solar array will work on any type of roof, but some roofing materials are more compatible with panels than others. Some of the best roofing materials for solar panels are:
- Asphalt Shingles
- Tar and Gravel
3. Do I Have Too Much Shade?
Shade from trees or tall neighboring buildings will interfere with the panels’ performance and reduce energy production. For optimal performance, place them in a spot that receives a lot of sunlight each day.
It is a common belief that solar panels only work in direct sunlight. They actually absorb both direct and indirect sunlight, so they still produce some solar electricity on cloudy, overcast days. Even so, solar cells will be more efficient and cost-effective if placed in sunny areas.
To get optimal performance out of your solar panels, install them in sunny, south-facing areas of the roof where they have plenty of space.
4. What Do They Cost?
On average, a solar panel installation for residential roofing will cost between $15,000 and $26,000.
The price of panels hinges on several factors, such as the size and type of system.
|Type of Solar Panel||Cost per Watt|
|Monocrystalline||$1 to $1.50|
|Polycrystalline||$0.70 to $1|
|Thin-Film||$1 to $1.50|
Over time, a solar panel system will pay itself off via the money it saves homeowners on power bills, but it takes an average of 10 years for solar panels to pay themselves off, although it can be anywhere from 7 to 20 years before the panels pay themselves off.
The price of solar panels has decreased over the past decade, dropping by over 80% since 2010. However, prices have gone up recently due to supply shortages and inflation.
5. Are Incentives Available?
The government offers tax exemptions and rebates to homeowners who install solar panels. Policies and financial incentives vary from state to state, so you’ll want to check the incentives offered in your state.
Local utility companies typically offer financial incentives such as reducing the cost of electric bills.
Some states offer rebates to fund your solar panel purchase. State rebates can shave off 10% to 20% of the cost off of your solar panels.
Solar tax credits deduct project costs to reduce the amount of taxes you pay. Tax credits can cover 10% of the expense for the solar panel system.
Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
Federal and state incentives offer a tax credit covering 26% of the solar panel system cost in 2022. In 2023, the federal tax credit rate decreases to 22%.
6. Can I Finance Solar Panels?
The best way to pay for solar panels is to pay upfront with cash. However, many homeowners will not be able to afford forking over so much cash upfront for pricey solar technology, so homeowners might consider getting a loan instead.
Home Equity Loans
Home equity loans help homeowners fund their purchase of a solar array. With a home equity loan, your house acts as collateral and the interest is tax deductible. The interest rate is usually about 3% to 5%.
A solar loan allows you to purchase solar panels and then pay off the loan in monthly payments over time.
7. Will I Need a New Roof?
As long as your roof is in good condition and capable of supporting the weight of solar panels, you will not need to get a new roof.
A roof doesn’t need to be new in order to sustain solar panels, but it does need to be in good condition in order to support their weight. Ideally, panels should be installed on a newer roof or one that isn’t very far into its expected life expectancy.
Damaged or old roofs are not the best option for solar panels. If your roof is near the end of its lifespan, you might want to consider replacing your roof before installing solar.
Before the installation process, you will want to have your roof inspected to ensure it is in good shape.
8. What Happens If I Move?
Generally, if you move, the solar panel system is sold with your house.
It is very expensive to move solar panels, but if you move to a location that isn’t very far away from your current home, it is possible to relocate and reinstall them on your new home.
If you are moving out of state, relocating your panels will likely not be worth it. And depending on the shape and type of your new roof, you might need to buy new racks to support the solar array.
If you remove the solar panels from your roof, it will leave holes that will need to be fixed. Furthermore, sunlight fades your roof’s color over time, so there will be a color difference between your faded roofing and the spots shaded by the panels.
If you are planning on moving in the near future, you probably don’t want to install solar on your home. The panels won’t have time to pay themselves off and you won’t get to enjoy the financial benefits.
Homeowners planning on moving should do a thorough cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to sell or relocate their solar panels.
9. Will I Still Need to Be Connected to the Grid?
Whether a house can go completely off the grid depends on the home’s energy requirements. If the solar panels receive adequate sunlight on a daily basis, they are able to provide enough energy for a house to go off the grid. But if your home consumes a lot of power, it may not be possible to disconnect completely from the grid.
How much energy a home requires depends on several variables, such as the number of people and pets living in a home, how many rooms a home has, and how many electrical devices are used each day.
10. What If I Get Excess Energy?
Any excess energy your solar panels generate can be stored in a solar battery or used for net metering.
In an off-grid system, excess energy is stored in a solar battery for use when solar energy is low later. A solar battery is expensive and will add another $10,000 to the cost of your system.
Homeowners generally keep their house connected to the power grid and use net metering to obtain tax credits for the excess energy they supply to the grid, which saves money on power bills. In exchange for giving excess energy to the city grid, you will get a credit on your utility bill. This exchange is known as net metering.
Staying connected to the grid allows homeowners to use both their solar-powered energy and energy from the grid. This will be beneficial if you live in an area that does not always have a lot of sun or when there is a power outage.
11. Can I Lease Panels Instead of Buying Them?
Leasing solar panels frees you from the cost of maintaining and repairing them. Instead, the leasing company will handle any maintenance costs. But there are downsides to leasing:
- You pay a monthly fee for the energy generated from the solar panels.
- It doesn’t add to your home value.
- You won’t be able to benefit from tax credits or rebates. Since you do not own the panels, you will not be able to take advantage of the financial incentives offered to homeowners to offset the cost of your investment.
- You will have to either return the solar panels or purchase them when the lease ends.
- Leasing makes it difficult to sell your home to prospective buyers.
For an additional fee, some solar panel leasing companies allow homeowners to relocate their leased solar panel system.
12. Do I Need a Permit?
You may need a permit to install solar panels on your home. Government regulations differ between states and cities, so check local regulations to find out if you need a permit. It may take several days or weeks to obtain a permit.
Failure to obtain the proper permits can result in fines, and you might end up having to re-install your solar panel system.
13. What About Warranties?
The terms and conditions of a solar panel warranty vary from company to company. Typically solar panel companies offer performance warranties and product warranties.
A performance warranty is the manufacturer’s guarantee that the solar panels will maintain a certain efficiency level for the duration of the warranty. Generally, a manufacturer guarantees approximately 90% performance for the first 10 years. After that, the guaranteed production performance is 80% or more for up to 25 years. A performance warranty lasts around 25 to 30 years.
Also known as a lifespan warranty, a product warranty protects from manufacturing damage or defects that a solar panel might have. A product warranty will cover any component failures or issues with the product’s quality.
14. What Are the Best Kind of Solar Panels?
There are three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.
- Monocrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive but also the most efficient and long-lasting. Made from solar cells constructed from silicon crystals, monocrystalline panels are typically black.
- Polycrystalline. For those looking for a less expensive option, polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient and effective than monocrystalline.
- Thin-film. The lightweight material of thin-film panels is flexible and mobile. They are cheaper than monocrystalline panels, but they have shorter lifespans than other types of solar panels.
Monocrystalline performs best, but selecting what type to get will depend on the condition of your roof and your budget.
Solar shingles are another option, although they are more expensive than solar panels. Solar shingles mimic the appearance of shingles to look more aesthetically appealing.
15. How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Typically solar panels last an estimated 25 to 30 years. Monocrystalline panels can last up to 40 years, while polycrystalline panels can last up to 35 years.
Over time, solar panels degrade as they wear down and incrementally decrease in production performance. The annual degradation rate of a solar panel has a median of 0.05%,which means that each year panels experience around a 0.05% decrease in their energy output.
Once your solar panel reaches the end of its lifespan and needs to be removed from your roof, you will want to recycle your panels. If they are not disposed of properly, they become toxic waste that can contaminate the environment and water supply. It’s best to have panels recycled so that their components can be reused to build new solar panels or other products.
FAQ About Things to Consider Before Switching to Solar Panels
Typically, premium rates are based on the value of your home. Since solar panels are a home improvement, they increase the overall value of your home, which in turn will likely increase the rate of your premium.
Keeping solar panels clean improves its production effectiveness and efficiency. Rain naturally rinses off some build-up on your solar panels, but it won’t get everything. Every so often you will want to hose down your solar panels. Do not pressure wash, however, as high-pressure water could damage the panels.
Bird droppings and leaves obstruct a panel’s efficiency that must be cleaned or cleared away. For more intensive cleanings, use warm soapy water and a soft brush or squeegee to scrub your panels clean.
Solar panel cleaning kits or automated sprinkler cleaners are other options to keep them clean. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of cleaning the panels yourself, you can hire a company to clean them for you.
Instead of your roof absorbing the heat from sunlight, solar panels absorb the heat and convert it into electricity. Solar panels shade your roof, which lowers the overall temperature of your roof. A cooler roof in turn lowers the temperature of the house.
Are You Ready for Solar Panels?
Whether solar panels are a good investment for your home depends on a variety of factors, such as your roof’s suitability for supporting solar panels and the budgeted amount you want to spend on solar technology.
Panels come with a lot of benefits and it’s an eco-friendly way to rely on sustainable energy and reduce your carbon footprint.
If you’ve decided that solar panels are a great investment for you and you want to get started on adding them to your home, then find a professional solar installation company today.
Main Image Credit: Pikist