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Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value. Solar system on home

Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value. Solar system on home

    How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Power a House?

    Renewable energy is a growing industry and is key to transitioning away from fossil fuels. Solar energy is the most popular and abundant renewable energy source. In fact, residential solar power installations rose by 34% from 2020 to 2021. However, solar is still far behind the nonrenewable energy sources in production; only 3% of all utility-scale electricity comes from solar, a far smaller share than natural gas (38%) or coal (22%).

    There are many tax incentives and other benefits for homebuilders and homeowners who install solar panels. For example, If a homeowner in Washington State installs a solar panel system of at least 100 kW, their system is exempt from state and local taxes.

    But can you install solar panels on your roof? How many solar panels does it take to power your house? How much money can you save by using a solar system? Whether you live in a craftsman-style home in Boston. or a split-level house in Round Rock, TX, read on to learn everything you need to know about adding solar panels to your house.

    How many solar panels does it take to power a house?

    Calculate how many solar panels your home needs by dividing your yearly electricity usage by your area’s production ratio, and then dividing that number by the wattage of your solar panels.

    Here’s the formula that many professionals use to calculate a home’s solar system needs:

    • Annual electricity usage ÷ production ratio ÷ panel wattage = # of panels
    • Using nationwide averages : 11,000 kWh ÷ 1.6 ÷ 300 = 23 panels

    On average, a 2,500 sq. ft. house will need between 20-25 solar panels to provide 100% of the home’s electricity needs. You can use this formula to calculate how many solar panels you need to power any size of home.

    solar, panels, increase, home

    Let’s break these variables down to better understand the formula.

    Annual electricity usage

    Your annual electricity usage is the amount of electricity you use in your home in one year. This is usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average U.S. household uses around 11,000 kWh every year.

    Factors that can affect electricity use include:

    Production ratio

    A solar panel system’s production ratio is the ratio of its estimated energy output over time (in kWh) to its actual system size (in kWh). A typical ratio is 1.4, or 14 kWh ÷ 10 kWh. Production ratios heavily depend on your local climate and sunlight hours – cloudier climates will have smaller energy outputs, while sunnier climates will have larger outputs.

    Break these inputs down to determine how many solar panels you need to power your house.

    Solar panel wattage

    Panel wattage is the energy output of one solar panel under ideal conditions. Wattage is measured in watts (W), and most solar panels generate between 300-400 W of power. Some panels have a higher power rating, but are more expensive.

    An experienced solar installation company will handle this process for you, including calculations, product selection, electricity needs, and solar compatibility. They also assess your roof to see if you require any specialized panel types or more powerful cells. Either way, this formula is here if you need it.

    Other factors to consider before investing in solar

    Investing in a solar system is a big commitment. Here are two additional factors to keep in mind before making the switch.

    Panel cost

    Solar panels can be an expensive initial investment; the average installation for a 10 kW system costs 20,020. which is enough to completely cover the electricity needs of most homes. Remember, if you live in a cloudy region. you will need more solar panels to generate the same amount of electricity compared to a sunny region.

    The payback period for a solar system is typically around ten years. meaning energy savings and rebates will usually exceed the initial cost of installation within ten years. There are also numerous city, state, and federal tax credits for installing solar panels.

    Solar panels also often come with either a product warranty or performance warranty. and sometimes both. These warranties typically last 10-25 years, depending on the manufacturer and installation company.

    Connection to the power grid

    Do you want to be tied to the power grid or not? Most homes with solar panels are still connected to the primary power grid. This offers many benefits, including being able to use electricity during bouts of bad weather, and receiving credits on excess power your system generates. However, if the primary power grid system fails, it triggers an automatic power shut-off in homes connected to the grid, including homes with solar panels. This prevents current from flowing to the broken or damaged line. This means that if your solar system is tied to the grid, you can’t generate electricity during a power outage.

    Some people want the ability to disconnect from the power grid, or at least have the option to do so on command. You may want to do this in certain circumstances, like during a power outage. These are called off-grid or hybrid solar systems. This requires a larger investment, primarily for the large batteries and power converter. Batteries can cost between 200 and 15,000 depending on the size of your system. Talk with a professional to determine your budget and specific needs.

    Are solar panels right for my house?

    Before you invest in solar panels, there are three important factors to consider:

    • Household energy consumption : Determine how much electricity your house uses. This way, you have an idea of how big your solar array will need to be. In 2021, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,632 kWh. an average of about 886 kWh per month. If your home uses more than the average, solar energy may not be able to cover your electricity needs.
    • Roof space : The average size of a residential solar panel today is about 65 inches x 39 inches (5.4 ft. by 3.25 ft), although they can be much larger and smaller. If your home has a small or unusually-shaped roof, you may not be able to fit very many solar panels on it; some roofs may not be able to fit them at all.
    • Hours of sunlight : Direct sunlight is critical; solar panels don’t function optimally in the shade. Take your local climate into account when deciding. For example, it takes fewer solar panels to generate the same amount of energy in a home in Fresno than it does in a house in Seattle. which receives an average of 226 cloudy days per year.

    Depending on your power needs and roof size, you may need more panels than your roof can accommodate to entirely switch to solar energy. To meet electricity needs, you may need to invest in smaller, more energy-efficient panels if possible, or install a ground-mounted system. Make sure to thoroughly research your energy consumption, roof space, local climate, and budget before switching to solar.

    How many solar panels to power a house: final thoughts

    Figuring out how many solar panels you need to power a house can be complicated. If you want to remove most of the hassle, an experienced solar installation company will handle this whole process for you, including calculations, product selection, electricity needs, and solar compatibility. They will also assess your roof to see if you need any specialized panel types or more powerful cells. Using a company can be expensive, but could save you money down the road because of calculation errors.

    Installing solar panels can be a great option to lower your carbon footprint and reduce your electric bills. Consider your needs and budget and decide if investing in solar is right for your home.

    Frequently asked questions about solar panels

    How many solar panels does the average house need?

    The average house requires between 20-25 solar panels, depending on the home’s size, energy use, and local climate. Because solar panels can’t consistently generate electricity, it’s usually best to budget for 25% more generation and storage than you think you’ll need.

    How many solar panels does it take to power a tiny house?

    A typical tiny home needs around 15 solar panels to power it completely. However, most tiny homes can only fit a few solar panels on the roof. To compensate for the lack of roof space, you can install a ground-mounted solar array with solar panels lined up adjacent to the house. This option isn’t right for everyone, and requires significant outdoor space.

    Can I run my house using only solar energy?

    You can run your house using entirely solar energy, but it is a significant investment. Solar panels cost 2.86/W on average, and the total cost of an installation averages 20,000 for a 10 kW system (after accounting for the 30 percent federal solar tax credit ).

    Can I put too many solar panels on my house?

    You can put as many solar panels on your roof as you want. However, there is a limit to how much energy you can generate and store if you use a grid-tied system. Check with your solar installation company or local electric company to learn more about your specific limits.

    How to use solar panels during a power outage

    Even if you are tied to the power grid, you can use solar panels during a power outage. Your system needs large-scale solar batteries and an inverter to convert D.C. power to A.C. power. Then, follow these steps:

    • Disconnect the solar system from the grid
    • Flip solar power breakers to “on”
    • Wait for solar power to begin flowing through the inverter
    • The system should become operational after a short period

    Keep in mind that some HOAs and local ordinances in some areas don’t allow homeowners to detach from the power grid.

    Redfin does not provide financial or environmental advice. Individual energy needs, use, and capabilities may vary. Always consult a professional and take your individual circumstances into account before installing solar panels.

    If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

    Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?

    Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

    Solar panels reduce your carbon footprint and increase your energy savings. but did you know they can also increase your home’s market value ? Our guide explains how, plus provides tips to maximize your added value with a quality system from a top solar company.

    Available in 50 states Has been in the industry since 1985 Provides its own monocrystalline solar panels

    Available in 23 states 25-year warranties for the product, labor, and inverter Power protection guarantee

    25-year workmanship and product warranty Perks for new construction homeowners Available in 20 states

    How Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?

    Most homeowners know that solar panels reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. Those long-term savings help boost your home’s property value. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory ( NREL ), your home value increases by 20 for every 1 you save on energy bills. For example, if your solar energy system saves you 700 per year, the value of your home increases by 14,000. Real estate agents and home appraisers have found that this also increases your market value when selling your home. A 2021 Zillow housing trends report found that 67% of homebuyers considered energy efficiency to be a “very to extremely important” inclusion for a potential home. Homebuyers are willing to pay 15,000 or more for a solar powered-home. according to a large-scale solar home study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). This push for energy-efficient homes translates to higher home sale for sellers. Prospective buyers will spend 4.1% more for a solar-powered home. or around 9,274. These boosted resale values are even higher in certain housing markets. In New York. for example, buyers will pay an additional 23,989 for a solar home versus comparable homes.

    Factors That Impact the Added Value of Solar Homes

    Installing a solar system doesn’t always guarantee increased home value. Several factors affect your property value. such as your location, electricity rates. and solar system. We’ll discuss these in more detail below.

    Local Electricity Rates

    Solar power is most impactful in areas with high electricity rates. where producing your own energy will lower your monthly electricity bills. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that the average residential utility bill is 117.46 per month. If your monthly electricity bill is significantly lower than this, you may not save money by switching to solar power. States such as California. Connecticut, Texas, and New York have higher-than-average electricity rates.

    Solar Market

    • California
    • Texas
    • Florida
    • North Carolina
    • Arizona
    • Nevada
    • Georgia
    • New Jersey
    • Virginia
    • Massachusetts

    Residents in states with little to no solar market growth might not benefit from the boosted market value of going solar.

    Solar Panel Ownership

    If you plan to sell your home after installing solar panels. it’s important to choose the right financing option. You must legally own your solar panel system to include it in your home sale. Ownership is also necessary to use available solar incentives and reduce your solar panel costs. Only homeowners who purchase their systems outright or take out a loan are the owners of their panels.

    Other financing options make solar home sales more complicated. If you choose a solar lease. your solar provider will remain the system’s legal owner. You must buy out the lease or transfer it to the new owner to sell your home. Depending on how much time is left in the lease, this may require a substantial payment. Afterward, the buyer can start a new lease with the solar company.

    You may also be able to transfer the lease to the new owner. allowing them to take over the remaining time on your contract. This doesn’t require a significant payment from either party, but the new homeowner must meet the qualifications to become the new lease owner, including a credit check. A lease transfer could slow down the selling process if you can’t find a buyer that meets the solar company ’s lease qualifications.

    Solar System Condition

    Homes with up-to-date solar systems have higher values than houses with aging systems. Solar systems typically last 25 to 35 years, so a home with a 15-year-old system can only provide another 10 to 20 years of service. Keep this in mind if you plan on selling a home with a solar system older than 10 years old.

    Homeowners should have their systems serviced and maintained to maximize their potential home sale. High-quality solar panels typically have longer warranties than inexpensive panels.

    Manufacturers’ warranties cover any defects or issues with the panels, while workmanship warranties cover installation errors. Use these warranties to make any necessary repairs and upgrades to keep your system in top condition. Additional coverage, such as a power production guarantee, protects your panels’ power output and production through the length of your warranty.

    If you’re considering buying a home with a solar panel system. review all of the system’s documentation, including maintenance records and warranty coverage. These details should also include any replacements or upgrades completed during ownership. If you plan on selling your solar-powered home. keep it in peak condition.

    How Do Solar Panels Influence My Property Tax?

    Installing a solar system increases your property value. so your property taxes will also increase. However, 36 states have laws that exempt solar owners from paying increased property taxes. These laws vary from state to state and differ in amount. While some states offer 100% exemption, others limit the exemption to a certain number of years. Check your local state legislature for exemption laws in your area.

    Maximizing Your Solar Panel Investment

    Choosing the best solar technology raises your property value and potential selling price. Consider investing in a high-quality system with maximally efficient solar panels. The following solar programs and upgrades can help decrease your up-front costs while bringing the highest return on investment.

    Solar Incentives, Credits, and Rebates

    Solar incentives on the federal, state, and local level can lower your system costs. For example, the federal solar tax credit provides a tax reduction equal to 30% of your installation costs. Check for state and local incentives in your area on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). You may also find city- and utility-specific rebates.


    Most quality solar systems produce more energy than your home needs. Net- metering programs allow homeowners to sell this surplus energy back to the grid for credits on their utility bills or annual payouts. Net- metering programs vary throughout the country and may be enforced at the state level or by a specific utility company. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency ( DSIRE ) for programs in your area.

    Solar Batteries

    If net- metering is unavailable in your location or you’d rather store excess energy for your own use, you can install a solar battery instead. You can use this energy during blackouts, low sunlight days, or at night. Homeowners looking to live off-grid without any ties to a utility company can use solar batteries to sustain their homes. If you choose to remain on the grid, solar batteries can offset periods of high electricity rates. increasing your energy savings.

    Our Recommendation

    Installing a solar panel system offers long-term clean energy and boosts your property value. How much your home value will increase depends on your location, local policies, and electricity rates. but most homeowners see a significant increase from going solar. Homeowners looking to sell a solar-powered home should keep the system up-to-date and in pristine condition. Home buyers interested in a solar home should ensure the system is in working condition and available for ownership transfer.

    If you’re considering adding a solar system to your home, we recommend getting quotes from at least three solar companies to find the best equipment and financing options.

    How Does Solar Power Work on a House? Your Questions Answered

    How does solar power work? A simple explanation is that solar panels convert sunlight into electricity that can be used immediately or stored in batteries.

    The sun essentially provides an endless supply of energy. In fact, with the amount of sunlight that hits the earth in 90 minutes, we could supply the entire world with electricity for a year — all we have to do is catch it!

    That’s where solar panels come in.

    How solar panels power a home

    Solar power has many applications, from powering calculators to cars to entire communities. It even powers space stations like the Webb Space Telescope.

    But most people are concerned about how solar panels can power their house and reduce their electricity bill.

    Here’s a step-by-step overview of how home solar power works:

    • When sunlight hits a solar panel, an electric charge is created through the photovoltaic effect or PV effect (more on that below)
    • The solar panel feeds this electric charge into inverters, which change it from direct current (DC) into alternate current (AC) electricity
    • The AC electricity runs through your electrical panel and is distributed throughout your home — just like grid energy
    • Excess solar energy is stored in batteries or pushed onto the grid to power local systems (like your neighbor’s house!)
    • Through net metering, solar owners get credit for the excess energy they put on the grid to offset the grid energy they pull off the grid when their panels aren’t producing
    • With battery storage, solar owners can store excess production to power their homes at night

    Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s break down how solar panels work in more detail.

    How does solar power work? The photovoltaic effect explained

    Solar panels turn sunlight into elctricity through the photovoltaic (PV) effect, which is why they’re often referred to as PV panels.

    The photovoltaic effect occurs when photons from the sun’s rays hit the semiconductive material (typically silicon) in the cell of the solar module. The photons activate electrons, causing them to free themselves from the semiconductive material.

    Photons hit the solar panel causing electrons to be freed during the photovoltaic effect.

    The free electrons flow through the solar cells, down wires along the edge of the panel, and into a junction box as direct current (DC).

    This current travels from the solar panel to an inverter, where it is changed into alternative current (AC) that can be used to power homes and buildings.

    How is solar energy used to power your home?

    Most home solar systems are “grid-tied” meaning that the solar system, home electrical system, and local utility grid are all interconnected, typically through the main electrical service panel.

    Connecting these systems means you can power your home with solar electricity during the day and grid electricity at night. It also means your solar system can push excess electricity onto the local grid to power surrounding systems, like your neighbor’s house.

    Through net metering, you earn credit for excess solar production that can be used to offset the grid electricity you use at night.

    Home solar with battery storage

    Home solar with battery storage works similarly to the process above, but intsead of pushing excess solar production onto the grid, it’s first stored in batteries in your home or garage.

    Pairing solar and battery is especially handy for:

    • Off-grid solar systems
    • Backup electricity during power outages
    • Areas without net metering policies
    • Powering your home on 100% clean and renewable energy

    What types of material are used in solar panels?

    The most common residential solar panels contain monocrystalline or polycrystalline (also called multicrystalline) solar cells.

    Both types of cells produce electricity when exposed to sunlight, however there are some key differences between the two:

    Monocrystalline solar cells Polycristalline solar cells
    Tend to appear darker in color, often black or dark grey Often appear a dark blue when exposed to light
    Performs better in high temperatures and shady conditions Less efficient at higher temperatures
    Tend to be more expensive Tend to be less expensive

    If space is limited on your roof or project site, a higher-efficiency, monocrystalline panel may be preferred, and could result in a better return on investment. Alternatively, a lower-cost, slightly less efficient, polycrystalline panel may do the job just as well if you have ample roof space on your home.

    Many panel manufacturers also build panels containing both mono and polycrystalline wafers to form solar cells, capable of harvesting energy from a wider spectrum of light.

    Be sure to ask what type of cell (“mono or poly”) your home solar system design contains, This distinction may affect the aesthetics and economics of your project.

    How does sun exposure affect solar panel efficiency?

    It is important that your solar panels receive good insolation (sun exposure) throughout the day and are free from as much shading from trees or neighboring obstructions as possible.

    There are a number of factors that influence solar panel efficiency. They include:

    • Temperature — Solar panels operate best in temperatures between 59 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Type of solar panel — Solar panels typically range from 15-20% efficient, with the best panels pushing 23%.
    • Shading — Solar panels perform best in wide-open sun. Even partial shading can substantially reduce the efficiency of a panel
    • Orientation and angle — Solar panels perform best when they are directly facing the sun and are often tilted to increase efficiency

    Solar engineers use satellite imagery to determine which panels and placement will provide optimum solar panel efficiency for you home.

    How does solar power work FAQs

    How does home solar power work?

    Solar power works by converting sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic (PV) effect. The PV effect is when photons from the sun’s rays knock electrons from their atomic orbit and channel them into an electrical current.

    Using PV solar panels, sunlight can be used to power everything from calculators to homes to space stations.

    How does solar power work at night?

    Solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity, so they do not generate electricity during the day.

    However, home solar systems typically generate excess electricity during the day, which can be stored in batteries or sent to the local grid in exchange for net metering credits. This is how solar owners maintain power when the sun isn’t shining.

    Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

    Yes, solar panels still generate electricity on cloudy days, although not as effectively as sunny days. Solar panels can capture both direct and indirect light (light that shines through clouds), but perform at around 10-25% of their normal efficiency when it’s cloudy.

    Cloudy days can be beneficial, however, as rain washes the panels and increases their overall efficiency.

    What Are Solar Panels Made Of?

    You might know what solar panels can do – convert sunlight into energy, save money, create energy independence, increase your home’s resale value – but.

    solar, panels, increase, home

    Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

    Do solar panels work at night? The short answer is: no, solar energy systems only operate during the day. This is because the power from.

    How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel Produce?

    One of the most important features of a solar panel is how much energy it can produce. After all, that’s what they’re designed to do.

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    The Latest Update in Flexible Solar Cells for Your Smart Devices

    As solar increases in popularity across the world, more investments are being funneled into the development of solar cell technology. The goal is to.

    Do Solar Panels Work Less Efficiently at Certain Temperatures?

    It’s easy to confuse heat energy and light energy since we often experience them in tandem. But when it comes to solar panels, there.

    Space-Based Solar vs. Conventional Solar. How Are They Different?

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    How Solar Panels Absorb and Store Energy

    The sun’s energy is expressed in different ways, depending on what materials it interacts with. Solar panels are built with materials that physically interact.

    How are solar panels manufactured?

    You know solar panels as the futuristic-looking black or blue rectangles that soak up sunlight and bring down your energy bills. You might even get.

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    Monocrystalline Solar Panels vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

    Over six decades ago, New Jersey scientists announced their invention of a practical silicon solar panel. Solar panels have come a long way since then.

    How Do Solar Panels Produce Electricity?

    Solar panels contain cells of semiconductive material, usually, silicon usually encased in a metallic frame and tempered glass. When subject to sunlight, photovoltaic cells create.

    Why Falling Back is Bad for Solar

    With daylight savings recently ending, it is that time of year again to reflect on why “falling back” is a really bad idea. In the.

    Why Install Solar Panels in Your Home? Should You Go Solar in 2023?

    New tax incentives are making the idea of solar panels more enticing, especially with higher electric and heating bills. Here are some things to consider.

    Rising energy and new tax incentives for green home improvements this year are heating up interest in solar.

    Experts say it’s a good time for many homeowners to harness solar energy. Though solar power may not work for every home, when it does it can drastically cut home heating bills and lessen damage to the environment caused by the burning of fossil fuels. And while installing a solar energy system is still not cheap, the up-front cost has gone down significantly in the past 10 years.

    Cost of solar panels

    Costs vary from state to state and depend on things like the size and quality of the solar array. Nationally, the average cost for a residential photovoltaic system is about 20,000 after 30% in federal tax credits, according to, an information website for residential alternative energy.

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    Nick Liberati, communications manager for EnergySage, breaks it down: The national average for a 10-kilowatt system, priced at the national average of 2.86-per-watt, costs 28,600. The federal tax credit allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of installing solar panels from your federal taxes (or in this case, a total of 8,580), bringing the cost to 20,020.

    On average, it takes 8.7 years to break even — that is, to save enough on power to recover the cost of solar panels. After that, your solar energy is free until the equipment wears out. Solar panels are typically guaranteed to last 20 to 25 years, although the system’s inverter is generally guaranteed for 10 years. The inverter converts DC electricity generated by solar panels into AC electricity that’s used in your house.

    Should you buy a solar panel battery?

    The average solar panel cost quoted above doesn’t include storage. A battery can add an average of more than 9,000 after the federal tax credit, depending on the size and other features. Specifically, Liberati says, the national average cost for a battery in the 10-12 kilowatt hour size range is about 13,000. Starting in 2023, all residential batteries will be eligible for the full 30% tax credit as long as they’re over 3 kWh in size. So you’d be able to deduct 3,900 from your taxes, leaving you with a post-tax credit price of 9,100 for the battery.

    Although batteries are becoming more popular, most solar houses don’t have them. Instead, most consumers send their excess energy to their utility as credit toward their power usage when the panels aren’t collecting enough, such as at night.

    Without a battery, if your utility loses power, your home does, too, even when it’s sunny. “The primary reason for this is safety,” Liberati says. “If your solar panel system is still producing electricity and sending it to the grid during an outage, those energized wires pose a serious safety threat to any utility workers trying to restore electric service to the grid.

    That won’t be a problem if you have a battery with “islanding capability.” Islanding is a technology that allows your home to support itself. “You can keep producing solar energy and feeding it to your battery during an outage without posing a risk to line workers because a system that is islanded won’t push excess electricity onto the grid,” Liberati explains. He notes that not all solar panel systems with energy storage can automatically island. If you get a battery, you should make sure your installer gives you the right equipment to enable this technology.

    Things to consider when getting solar panels

    With so many thousands of dollars required upfront, going solar can be intimidating for many people, notes Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of EnergySage.

    Aggarwal urges comparison shopping and checking any claims — such as that your utility or the government will give you solar for free. EnergySage, he says, helps with this and connects consumers with reputable contractors. The site also has information about incentives offered by different states.

    Another factor to consider is how your utility company credits you for the solar energy it gets from you, particularly if you don’t have a battery and are reliant on the utility to run your home when your panels aren’t collecting enough.

    Michael Ware, a senior solar specialist with consulting firm EcoMotion, says there’s tension over how the utilities credit customers for solar power. The utilities want a discount, similar to how they pay for other forms of energy that they sell to consumers. But solar advocates want the utilities to credit customers the full amount they have to pay for their power, known as net metering.

    Sherri Shields, director of communications and marketing for the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida, said people who install solar should check with their insurance companies about whether they cover the panels or whether you have to purchase extra insurance.

    Other reasons to go solar

    Saving money is just one reason people go solar, notes Robert Stoner, deputy director for Science and Technology of the MIT Energy Initiative. “I think most people who invest in residential rooftop solar simply want to be part of the transition, and to a lesser degree to be seen to be,” he says. “Nothing wrong with that…Some, like me, own homes — my weekend home is at the end of a five-mile-long barrier beach — that simply don’t have the option to have grid electricity.” Stoner says his solar system, which includes a bank of lead acid batteries, provides all of his electricity, “And it brings me a lot of joy! Some of that comes from the feeling of independence I get, and some of it from getting to experience the miracle of electricity being produced from the sun.”

    Rotraut Bockstahler, 86, of Sarasota, Fla., with her husband, installed 26 solar panels and a Tesla battery in November 2016. Installing the solar panels cost just under 28,000, and they received a tax credit of about 8,400, leaving a net cost of about 19,600. Getting the battery cost about 8,400, and they received a tax credit of about 2,500, for a net cost of about 5,900. “We feel strongly about climate change and wish to make a contribution to reverse that trend,” Bockstahler says. Going solar “was one of the most positive decisions we made for our living in Florida. We have saved money, made a contribution to fighting climate change and were fortunate enough to have electricity every time there was an outage in the electric grid.”

    Going solar doesn’t always cut you off from the power company entirely. When the system was first installed, Bockstahler says, their need for electricity from the utility dropped significantly and their power bills went down to about 40 to 60 a month. With increasing energy costs, they’re now over 100 a month. But in addition to the power bill savings, she counts the money saved on food that didn’t spoil and hotel rooms they didn’t have to get when the power grid failed.

    If they have any regrets, she says, it’s that they didn’t get a bigger system. “We feel that the decision we made about the number of panels we have, was maybe a little too conservative and should have included more circuits that could be powered by the battery,” she says.

    Should you wait for new solar panel technology?

    Another reason you might hesitate to go solar is that technology might advance to offer more efficient and/or less expensive options. And it’s true that different technologies continue to emerge. For instance, some companies are offering roof shingles that serve as solar collectors. Also, standard solar panels have become more efficient, less expensive and better looking.

    If you wait, might you have a chance to get something better?

    Aggarwal says solar panels do improve slightly each year, but not enough to justify waiting for a dramatic change. A decade ago, he said, the panels would each generate maybe 240 or 245 watts. Now, they each produce 400 or 420 watts of power. So this means, you can get more power from a system that covers the same amount of roof space. The panels, he says, used to be bright blue with silver around the edges. Now, they’re all black and “look beautiful,” he says. And they’re more durable.

    Solar shingles, he says, so far haven’t turned out to be ready yet for broad use. Aggarwal says a roofing company plans to introduce “an interesting product” along those lines sometime this year. But solar shingles are still less efficient and more expensive than traditional solar panels. However, if you’re planning to replace your roof, he says, solar shingles may be worth considering.

    Ware said he expects the price of batteries to come down in the next five or 10 years as companies explore different battery technologies. The currently most popular battery technology is lithium-ion, which may pose a fire hazard in some instances, leading some jurisdictions to require that they be mounted outdoors.

    Is solar right for you?

    Some homes are not suitable for solar:

    • If you have an old roof that needs to be replaced in a few years, for example, it makes sense to wait because removing and reinstalling solar panels can cost thousands.
    • If your roof faces north or is in the shade, you probably aren’t a good solar candidate.
    • It’s also more complicated and expensive to install solar on roofs covered with clay tiles, Liberati says.

    There is another option for people who can’t put solar collectors on their roofs.

    Community solar involves an array of solar panels that people can purchase an interest in. People who participate in community solar generally receive credit from their utility company for power generated by their share of the project. You can find information about community solar projects in your area on the EnergySage website.

    Note: This item first appeared in Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, our popular monthly periodical that covers key concerns of affluent older Americans who are retired or preparing for retirement. Subscribe here if you want retirement advice that’s right on the money.

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