What to know about buying a house with solar panels
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If you’re looking for a new roof over your head, you might also be thinking about whether what’s actually on that roof can help the planet. According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) “2022 REALTORS and Sustainability Report”, more than 50 percent of real estate professionals say their house-hunting clients are interested in sustainability. They’re finding plenty of options to match their needs, too: 77 percent of Realtors indicate that there are homes with solar panels available in their local markets.
Currently, solar energy produces over 4 percent of all electricity in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). But that figure is going to increase with new legislation that just made it through Congress. According to estimates from the White House, approximately 7.5 million more households will be able to install solar panels on their roofs thanks to the tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
If you’re thinking about getting ahead of the curve and buying a house with solar panels, here’s what you need to know.
What are solar panels?
First, a quick primer: Solar panels (not to be confused with solar shingles or tiles) are devices that collect sunlight and convert it into energy, which can be used for electricity or stored in batteries for later use. As much of the world looks for renewable energy to help replace fossil fuel consumption, solar panels – also known as photovoltaic, or PV, systems – harness the natural, “clean” power of the sun in the sky and help negate the effects of driving gas-guzzling cars and relying on coal-fired power plants.
Interest in such environmental concerns is figuring more and more in residential real estate transactions. Half of agents and brokers in the NAR study indicate they helped a client buy or sell a property with green features during the past 12 months — a notable jump compared with 32 percent who did so in 2021. specifically, the presence of solar panels on a property roof bumps up its perceived value, one-third of Realtors say.
questions to ask before buying a home with solar panels
When surveying a solar-paneled home, be sure to ask these key questions.
Who owns them?
While you might assume that buying a home means buying every piece of it, that’s not always the case with solar panels. In some cases, there is a lease arrangement where the owner of the home pays the company that owns the panels. Justin Baca, SEIA vice president of markets and research, says that around 25 percent of homes have third-party-owned solar panels, meaning the owner of the home pays a company a fee to use them.
“Homebuyers should ask whether the solar system is owned outright by the seller or whether they would have to take over a lease,” Baca says. “If there is a lease, they should check the terms to make sure they understand the costs and any options to buy out the lease. Either way, solar panels on the home are a great feature.”
Who installed the solar panels?
Make sure you ask whether a licensed professional installed the solar panels. There are plenty of self-installation kits available for DIY homeowners who aren’t afraid to get on their roofs. However, if the homeowner (or any non-professional) installs them, these panels may not qualify for protection under a warranty if the equipment fails.
What’s the condition of the roof?
With any home purchase, you want to know what sort of shape the roof is in. With a roof that has solar panels, the condition becomes an even more critical factor. If the roof is in bad shape, the panels have to be taken off before the roof can be repaired or replaced, and then reinstalled. This can add to the complexity, cost and length of any re-do. So, “the most important questions to ask are about the condition of the roof and panels themselves,” Waheed Akhtar, broker and owner of RE/MAX Dream Homes in Sacramento, California, says.
What will the maintenance needs be?
Like everything else in your home, solar panels may need to be cleaned or serviced from time to time to ensure they’re in the best condition possible.
“If you own the system in a place that gets a decent amount of rain, you likely won’t have to think about it for years,” Baca says. “I haven’t done a thing to my five-year-old system [in Syracuse, New York], and it’s performing as new.
However, “in places with more dust and less rain, cleaning based on local conditions isn’t a bad idea but should be done by an installer or other professional qualified to be on a roof safely,” he notes.
If you don’t own the panels outright, Baca points out that you won’t have to worry about the maintenance responsibilities. “If you have a lease, you likely have a performance guarantee, which will lower your lease payments unless the system performs to a certain level,” he says. “That makes maintenance the leasing company’s responsibility.”
What’s their average output versus the home’s average usage?
The main reason you’re buying a home with solar panels is to cover most – if not all – of your home’s energy needs. So, you’ll need to research the home’s average usage and compare it with the typical solar output. You can ask the seller for figures from the past year, and you can also use the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s calculator to get a sense of how much energy you can expect to produce based on the location and the type of system.
After you understand how much of your own energy needs will be satisfied by the solar panels’ output, you’ll want to know if you have options with any surplus energy that you don’t use. Net metering, which involves selling the energy you don’t use back to other customers who need it, can provide additional financial benefits for you. This varies based on where the home is located (SEIA offers a map of states with net metering rules in place as a starting point). Be sure to ask your real estate agent for assistance in understanding if net metering is available for you.
What is the production guarantee?
In addition to knowing whether you can benefit if your system produces more than you need, it’s important to have an understanding of what happens if it produces less. Most companies offer production guarantees, which will reimburse you a designated amount if the system fails to deliver. For example, you might be guaranteed 12,000 kilowatt-hours in a year. If the system only produces 9,500 kilowatt hours, the company may need to issue you a check. Look at the contract to determine what, if any, guarantees are offered.
than one-third (36 percent) of Realtors feel that having solar panels on a home increased its perceived property value, according to the NAR’s “2022 REALTORS and Sustainability Report.”
Going solar can lower your home’s carbon emissions and save you money on utility bills, but there are some things you’ll want to know before buying a home with solar panels.
By Rachel Brougham | Updated Apr 27, 2022 5:24 PM
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In 2021, solar energy accounted for 46 percent of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the United States. Additionally, residential solar installations set an annual record of 30 percent year-over-year growth, according to the recently released Solar Market Insight Report for 2021. Currently, solar power accounts for just 3.9 percent of total U.S. electricity generation, but that number is rapidly growing.
So is buying a home with solar panels the right move for you? Well, that depends on some key factors.
How much sun will your roof get?
You’ll need plenty of sunlight for solar panel success. Check for trees both on your property and in neighbors’ yards. Have the trees grown and begun to cast too much shade since the solar panels were installed? If that’s the case, some tree trimming or transplanting (and neighborly negotiation) might be necessary.
While solar panels work best on south-facing roofs, both east- and west-facing roofs can also gather plenty of energy if they get enough sunlight throughout the day.
What about resale value?
Solar panels are viewed similarly to upgraded kitchens or remodeled bathrooms—they increase a home’s value. In fact, homes with solar panels sell for 1.4 percent more than similar homes without them, according to Zillow.
The photovoltaic value (PV) calculates energy production value for a solar panel system and is compliant with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. The PV value is a tool that both home sellers and home buyers can use to get the most accurate estimate of a home’s solar energy production.
Will you lease or own the solar panels?
If you’re considering buying a house with solar panels, you’ll want to ask if they are leased or owned. Owning the solar panels on your house is the best financial decision, according to Consumer Reports, since solar panel lessees save less than those who purchase them outright.
You might save some money up front with a lease, but you may lose that advantage when buying a home with existing leased panels. When leasing solar panels, homeowners can lose control of just how many panels are placed on their roof and where, since the leasing company will be focused on maximizing its own bottom line.
Furthermore, a lease term for solar panels is generally 20 years. That means if you’re buying a home that has years left on the solar lease, you, as the home buyer, become the lessee.
How much maintenance are you in for?
The good thing about solar panels is that they basically do their thing with little effort on your part. With that said, you’ll want to make sure to take care of your investment. With proper solar panel care, they can last you up to 30 years!
You’ll primarily need to clean the panels to keep them maintained. That means removing dirt and debris a couple times per year (think spring and fall) and after any storms that might leave them covered in debris. Cleaning will ensure the panels get enough sunlight to work properly.
You may also want to hire a professional annually for an inspection to make sure the panels are functioning as they should.
Can you still get a mortgage for a house with solar panels?
Buying a house with solar panels can affect the way you get a mortgage. In particular, matters like owning or leasing the panels and how the panels were financed might affect your mortgage.
If the seller of your soon-to-be home outright owns the solar panels, that’s ideal; the panels will likely only affect the home’s price. If you buy a home with leased solar panels, though, you’ll want to discuss any lease terms and monthly fees associated with the system.
What’s the difference between solar loans and financing?
If the seller of the home owns the solar panels and is still making payments through a loan or through financing, you’ll want to know the details as the buyer.
If the panels were financed through a solar loan, the loan will remain the seller’s responsibility, even if the property is sold. That means the buyer is off the hook for making payments on that loan.
However, if the solar panels were purchased through Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, the financing remains attached to the property, since payments are made via property taxes. Those payments would thus be transferred to the home buyer.
What if the roof needs to be replaced?
Roofs with solar panels should be in good shape, but there may come a time when the roof needs replacing.
If a roof with solar panels needs to be replaced, both the panels and the mounting hardware must be uninstalled and reinstalled. This work is often done by the solar panel installer, but sometimes the roofing company can take care of it. The re-installation can cost anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000, on top of the roofing costs.
Will you really save money with solar panels?
If you own your new home’s solar panels outright, then yes, you will save money on energy costs. How much you save will depend on the amount of solar power you generate, local utility rates, and how much energy the utility pays you for when you return it to the power grid. If your solar panels are leased, how much you save will be dependent on the lease terms.
The National Utility Rate Database allows you to look up current electricity rates in areas around the country and can provide a rough idea of how much you could save on monthly utility bills when buying a house with solar panels.
California commission overhauls rooftop solar proposal
The CPUC’s scaled-back plan eliminates consumer fees. The original was abandoned after criticism from the governor and solar advocates that it could hurt the transition to renewable energy.
The California Public Utilities Commission today released a long-awaited overhaul of its proposal to regulate rooftop solar installations, removing an unpopular new fee but reducing how much utilities would pay homeowners for supplying power to the grid.
The revised proposal comes after the CPUC earlier this year abandoned a controversial plan that solar advocates warned would undermine the state’s efforts to battle climate change.
The measures to overhaul management of California’s residential solar program have languished for more than a year. The CPUC’s challenge is to encourage more rooftop solar production while not disproportionately saddling low-income residents with higher energy bills.
Ramping up solar power to replace fossil fuels is considered critical to cutting greenhouse gases in California. State law has set a target of 90% zero-carbon energy by 2035 and 100% by 2045.
The revised proposal addresses some — but not all — of the concerns raised by solar supporters. Power companies say it’s not difficult to discern the governor’s fingerprints on the changes. Newsom, who appoints the CPUC’s five members, twice weighed in, suggesting the original proposal needed to be revisited.
“The changes are stark,” said Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for Affordable Clean Energy For All, which represents 120 organizations, including Pacific Gas Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas Electric. “It’s clear there was some influence.”
The CPUC will hear oral arguments at a public meeting next Wednesday and is scheduled to vote on the measure on Dec. 15. If adopted, the new rules would take effect next April.
- Remove a proposed 8 per kilowatt monthly fixed charge, a so-called solar tax, on new residential systems.
- Reduce utilities’ payments to homeowners for excess power they sell by as much as 75% compared to current rates. The change would not apply to residents with existing solar systems.
- Fund 900 million in new incentive payments to help purchase rooftop solar systems, with 630 million set aside for low-income households.
- Encourage the installation of solar panels plus battery storage.
- Set lower rates in an attempt to shift consumers’ use of power to the times of day that improve grid reliability.
The CPUC is required under state law to update its net metering rules, which triggered a prolonged, complex and politically thorny process.
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Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Storage Association, said the 75% reduction in credits to new solar customers means utilities will pay residents less for the power their rooftop systems provide to the grid.
The proposed rules “would really hurt,” she said. She estimated that new customers would be paid a base rate of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for power they generate but don’t use, compared to about 30 cents now.
Del Chiaro said the newest proposal “needs more work or it will replace the solar tax with a steep solar decline.”
The solar industry is pleased that the monthly fee was removed. They said the surcharge would have discouraged installation of solar panels and damage the growing clean-energy sector.
The state’s utilities, however, are disappointed that there aren’t changes that would better manage the shared costs of residential solar.
“We expected the [Commission] to do more. It’s frustrating,” said Fairbanks of Affordable Clean Energy For All.
Fairbanks said the amended proposal does not address what is known as “cost shift,” referring to solar customers not paying their fair share of costs associated with delivering residential power and the impact on the function of the electric grid. The utilities say those costs are now spread unfairly among all ratepayers.
than 3 billion was passed on to non-solar customers in 2021, according to the CPUC’s Public Advocate’s Office. The new proposal “went backward” in addressing that gap, Fairbanks said. Rooftop solar customers “ have been getting a sweet deal for decades.”
The original proposal largely reflected the interests of the state’s three largest utilities. It was attacked by the solar industry, clean energy and consumer advocates and environmental justice organizations.
The timing of the proposal was awkward: As the state was ramping up its renewable energy ambitions, Newsom reiterated that rooftop solar power was “essential” to meet California’s clean-energy goals. The state’s popular incentive program has put solar panels on 1.5 million roofs of residences and small businesses.
The policy, called Net Metering, was implemented in 1995 and established a framework for large utilities to buy excess energy from homeowners and supplement power to the grid. The program was bolstered by incentives that brought down the upfront costs of purchasing the systems.
The new proposal cites the evolution of clean energy and its impact on the electric grid. Officials say the rule would align state policy with a grid that is bloated with solar energy during the day and overburdened with demand for power when the sun goes down.
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Can Solar Panels Really Power a Whole House?
With the advancements in solar and battery storage technology today, solar has emerged as not only one of the most efficient energy sources, but also one of the most cost-effective ways to power a home. (The latest breakthrough is transparent solar panels, which may one day douvle as power-producing Windows in your home!)
If you have a suitable roof and can afford the upfront investment of both solar panels and a storage battery, solar can be an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint and lock in long-term savings on your electricity costs.
The long answer to that question, though, is more complicated.
While it is possible to take your home completely “off the grid” with the right solar and storage set-up, it is more common to keep your home connected to the grid and source your electricity from a combination of your solar panels and the electric grid.
Without a storage system, your solar panels will only be able to generate energy to power your home during the daytime. At night, when your solar panels are not producing electricity, you’d receive power from the grid.
In this case, even though your home isn’t entirely powered by solar, you could still offset your electricity bill by selling excess energy generated during the day back to the grid via your local utility company or state-run program. So, while your home wouldn’t be powered by solar 24/7, you could still generate enough clean energy to offset some of your electricity costs and your carbon footprint.
How many solar panels do I need to power my home?
The average U.S. household uses 893 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity every month. That’s just under 30 kWh per day.
The number of panels needed to meet this daily average will depend on factors like the amount of sunlight your house receives, the size of your solar array, and the power rating of your solar panels (how many watts of power they generate). This is where a little math comes in, but the equations aren’t overly complex.
High-level, there are three key steps:
Solar panel power rating: convert watts to kilowatts
A solar panel’s power rating is measured in watts (W). Panels today typically have a power output ranging between 250 and 400 W, depending on which system you buy. That means they’ll produce 250-400 W of electricity per hour during peak conditions. But we’ll want to turn that into kW, so that you can more easily match it against your own electricity usage.
1,000 W equals 1 kW, so the average residential panel has an output of between 0.25 and 0.40 kW.
Estimate hours of sunlight
The next step is to calculate the daily output of your solar panels. To do this, you need to estimate how many hours of sunlight your solar panels will receive per day (or energy-producing conditions, as panels can still be effective, albeit less efficient, on cloudy days).
Understandably, your home’s sunlight exposure can vary drastically by location, seasonality, landscaping, and more factors—but there are tools out there to get average estimates based on historical scientific data. Google’s Project Sunroof is one such tool that takes this even further by showcasing your estimated savings and environmental impact, too.
Also, as part of any good solar contracting and installation process, companies will do this sunlight analysis on your home before recommending what system you should go with and how many panels you need to invest in.
Calculate the number of panels you’ll need
To get a rough estimate of how many solar panels you’ll need to meet your energy needs, follow the equation below. (Grab your electricity bill so you have your home’s latest power consumption on-hand.)
The amount of power your home consumes on average per day in kwH / (Your solar panels’ power rating in kW) x (Average hours of sunlight exposure per day)
For example, if your home energy usage is 30 kwH per day, you are looking to buy 320 W solar panels (0.32 kW power rating), and your home receives 4 hours of direct sunlight per day on average—you will need 23 panels to power your home.
Of course, this is just an average. The number of panels needed to power your home will depend on your electricity needs and many other factors. If you have a smaller roof or your home receives fewer hours of sunlight per day, you can purchase panels with a higher power rating to generate more electricity per hour.
What happens to excess energy produced by home solar panels?
In many cases, your solar panels will generate more electricity than you consume during the day. When this happens, the excess energy will either be stored in a battery if you have a solar storage system, or it will be sent to the electricity grid.
Utilities use a system called net metering to measure the amount of energy your home produces. They’ll give you solar credits in exchange for the excess energy you send to the grid. Net metering allows homeowners to offset their electricity bill—so even though you’re still using power from the electrical grid at night, you may not need to pay for that energy at the end of the month. The solar credits could offset some if not all your bill. Talk to your local utility about net metering for more information.
Will solar panels still power my home when the sun isn’t out?
On cloudy days, solar panels still produce electricity, just at a slower rate. Usually, on a beautiful sunny day, you’ll be able to generate enough energy throughout the day to power your home. On some days though, you simply won’t receive enough sunlight (or even partial sunlight) to completely power your home. This is where either having a storage system or being connected to the grid will come in handy.
A battery storage system will allow you to use reserve energy to power your home when your solar panels aren’t producing energy. This is the same reserve supply that you’ll use to power your home at night if you have an “off-grid” home.
If you don’t have solar storage installed, then your home will source energy from the electric grid when your solar panels aren’t actively producing it (like at night).
Remarkably, in the future, solar panels may be able to produce energy at night thanks to an incredible breakthrough by Stanford scientists. But that innovation is still a ways away from having practical, real-world uses.
How much do solar panels cost?
Installing solar panels on your home requires a sizeable financial investment—especially if you’re going to install a storage system too. The cost of just the solar panels will vary depending on the state, with recent data suggesting anywhere between 13,000 to 19,000 for solar installation. But this price does not include any discounts from federal tax credits or local state exemptions for which you may be eligible.
|Region||AVG Cost for Solar Installation|
Regional price averages calculated using state averages for 6 kW solar installation from Consumer Affairs. Visit the link for state-specific data.
While the upfront cost may seem like a lot, you can also calculate the long-term savings that you’ll receive once your solar panels are up and running. Over the 20–30-year lifespan of your solar panels, you’re likely to more than cover the cost of installing your panels through those government tax incentives and exemptions, plus the savings that you’ll receive on your electricity costs and excess energy that you may be able to sell back to your utility or state. Look into whether there is a buy-back program in your state.
Adding storage to your solar system will likely add another couple thousand dollars upfront depending on the system that you choose. There are benefits to this investment too, though. You may be able to completely take your home off the grid—so you can have a completely self-sustaining home, which will come in handy during power outages. Not to mention, your electricity bill will cost 0 every month since you’re sourcing all your electricity from your own supply.
What if I can’t install my own solar panels?
Most homeowners and renters are unable to install their own solar panels, whether due to financial constraints or roof ineligibility (not enough sunlight or the infrastructure won’t support solar panels). But just because you can’t install your own panels doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the financial and environmental benefits of choosing solar.
Community solar programs allow you to access the financial benefits of solar without installing any of your own panels. Instead, you can subscribe to a local solar array near you and support the operations of that solar farm in exchange for discounts on your electricity bill. While you won’t be receiving solar electricity directly to your home, you’ll be supporting the addition of more clean solar power to the overall energy mix on the grid. With a community solar subscription, you’ll be able to save money on your electricity costs (not directly on your bill, but via the credits you’ll receive back)—and help support our transition to a cleaner energy future.
Check to see if there are community solar programs in your area. To learn more, check out Perch Community Solar.
How Solar Panels Can Add Thousands to Your Home’s Value
Solar panels can make your property worth more, but it depends on where you live.
Dan is a writer on CNET’s How-To team. His byline has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, NBC News, Architectural Digest and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
There are many benefits of solar panels that homeowners know about.- they lower your energy bill, reduce your carbon footprint and can even earn you a healthy tax credit.
But did you know going solar also increases the value of your home?
A 2019 report from Zillow indicated that properties with rooftop solar installations sold for 4.1% more than comparable residences without them. For a median-valued home, that’s equal to roughly 9,300.
Can solar panels save you money?
Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.
And residences with solar are 24.7% more likely to sell for more than their asking price, according to property listings site Rocket Homes.
Tony Accardo, a Compass realtor in Los Angeles County, says solar is a huge selling point in his conversations with prospective buyers.
Can solar panels save you money?
Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.
If there were two identical homes, but one didn’t have solar and was 50,000 cheaper, the one with solar would sell first, Accardo told CNET.
Here’s what you need to know about how and why solar panels can increase your home’s value.
How much solar panels increase your home’s value
There are tax breaks available when you buy and install a rooftop solar system, most notably the federal solar tax credit.
When it’s time to sell, though, how much of a premium having a rooftop solar system brings depends on a variety of factors.- including where you live, the cost of electricity and what kind of system you have.
What’s most attractive to homebuyers is how much of your home’s energy needs your installation covers. If it can provide all of it, that can reduce your electricity bill by an average of 1,500 a year.- equal to about 37,500 over the life of the system.
If solar panels aren’t on buyers’ want list, it’s something they plan to install themselves, Accardo said. They want to offset energy costs and have a better resale situation themselves.
Solar is even more of a get than having a pool, he added.
An older couple looking at your house maybe isn’t going to care you have a pool. Or even see it as a pain, Accardo said. This is direct savings that everyone can take advantage of.
Where you live matters
The value of a solar setup varies substantially by market. Unsurprisingly, buyers in states where electricity bills are higher place more of a premium on solar panels.
In January 2023, residential electricity bills were highest in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and across New England, according to the Energy Information Administration.
With over 10.7 million homes relying primarily on solar, California overwhelmingly has the largest residential solar market.
Below are the top 10 states for solar, based on data from the Solar Energy Industry Association on the cumulative amount of solar energy capacity installed through 2022 and the number of homes powered by solar.
States with the top solar markets in 2022
|MW of solar installed||Number of homes powered by solar|
Many of these states offer credits to homeowners who give excess energy back to the grid. And at least 36 states offer property tax exemptions for a home solar system. So while it will increase the value of your home, it won’t increase your tax bill.
A 2015 analysis by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that buyers in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and New Jersey paid 15,000 more for a home with a typical 3.6-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. (The equivalent to about 4 more per watt generated.)
Specific metro areas have also risen to the top when it comes to adopting solar panels: Last year, they were most in demand in Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, Phoenix, San Jose, San Antonio and New York City, according to a survey by the Environment California Research Policy Center.
In New York, having solar panels upped the closing price of a property by 5.4%, compared to the 4.1% increase nationwide, Zillow reported. For a median-priced home in the Big Apple, that worked out to about an additional 24,000.
Electricity will remain high
Overall inflation slowed to 5% in March.- and could go as low as 3% by the end of the year. But Mark Wolfe, director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, told USA Today that electricity may increase by as much as 10% in 2023 and possibly in 2024, as well.
That’s because liquified natural gas, which fuels over a third of Americans’ electricity, has become scarcer as the US exports a record amount to Europe, which has been struggling to replace the supply it no longer gets from Russia after its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Unprecedented export volumes are, for the first time in history, binding American household energy bills to global calamities, Wolfe wrote in an open letter last fall to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
He described the situation as a domestic energy pricing crisis.
Asked about the reasons for adding solar panels, almost all (92%) homeowners who have installed them or considered doing so pointed to saving on utility bills, the Pew Research Center reported.
People aren’t altruistic, Accardo said. They’re interested in solar because of saving, not because of the environment.
Will solar always add value to my property?
Having a well-maintained rooftop solar system is highly unlikely to ever lower your property’s value, Accardo said. Even if you don’t have solar panels, buyers may pay more for a house with roofing that’s well-suited to installing them later.
But changes in state regulations can make solar less of a selling point: California recently altered its solar incentive from a net-metering system, where homeowners get a near-dollar-to-dollar credit for excess energy, to a net-billing program where your surplus is sold to the utility at a substantially lower rate.
Systems installed after April 14, 2023, could earn homeowners 75% less if they don’t also have a home battery setup, according to the California Solar and Storage Association, the state’s largest solar trade organization. (Existing systems are grandfathered under the current net-metering structure.)
Similar policy changes decreased the uptake of solar in Hawaii, Nevada and Missouri, the nonprofit Environment America reported.
In Arizona, new fees and regulations nearly doubled how long it takes solar panels to pay for themselves, leading to a decline in adoption of between 50% and 95%, EA reported. (Despite it being the sunniest state in the union, fewer than 200,000 homes in Arizona are powered by solar.)
The state of your panels and your home are also a factor. If a buyer sees that they’re going to have to invest in repairs, it will likely drive the price down.
And as other states adopt net billing, having solar panels paired with a home battery backup system will be increasingly important to get the most value for your home.
For more on solar panels, find out how to avoid scams and learn about the big changes to California’s solar incentives.