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.”
Do Solar Panels Increase Your Home’s Value?
Samantha covers all topics home-related including home improvement and repair. She previously edited home repair and design content at The Spruce and HomeAdvisor. She also has hosted videos on DIY home tips and solutions and launched multiple home improvement review boards staffed with licensed pros.
We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Home. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Table of Contents
Solar panels are a fantastic source of renewable energy, as well as a great way to save a chunk of change on your monthly electrical bills. Upfront, however, they are an investment, and if you’re thinking about purchasing a solar panel, you may be wondering if they’re worth the thousands—if not tens of thousands—of dollars they often cost.
Solar panels might increase your home’s value in the long run, though. Here’s how.
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Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?
In most cases, yes. If a home has solar panels, it means its owners will be saving money in the long run, increasing the home’s appeal and value.
How Does Solar Increase Home Value?
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, every dollar that a solar panel saves you on your electrical bills increases the value of your home by 20. And according to Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for four percent higher than those without them.
Currently, the demand for solar panels is higher than it ever has been, with home-buyers becoming increasingly environmentally conscious while wanting to save money. It is this demand that often increases the value of homes featuring solar panels. Whether and by how much your home’s value will increase, though, will depend on where you live and the quality of your solar panel.
Can Adding Solar Ever Decrease Home Value?
No, but it could have no effect, depending on where you live.
Factors Influencing Solar’s Added Value
Solar panels are increasingly seen as a valuable addition to any home. There are many reasons why solar panels can be an excellent financial investment, including the fact that they can help you save money while increasing your property’s value in the long run.
It is no secret that the location of your home can significantly impact your property’s value. Therefore, the value of homes with solar panels certainly increases depending on their location – especially in areas with abundant sunlight and high electricity rates. Plus, if your home is in a region or neighborhood that emphasizes environmental sustainability, homes with solar panels can enhance a home’s perceived value. Not to mention, depending on your location, government incentives and supportive policies also play crucial roles in increasing the desirability of solar-equipped homes.
The states where solar panels are most in demand are California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and Oregon. The cities where solar panels are most in demand are Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, Phoenix, San Jose, San Antonio and New York. If you live in one of these areas, there is a good chance that solar panels will increase your home’s value.
Solar Panel Ownership
When purchased outright, solar panels can be easily transferred from the home’s seller to the buyer. However, if you’re leasing your solar panels, you’ll need to work with the solar company to establish who will take ownership of the panels. Typically, the buyer can take over the solar system by buying the lease out or transferring it. However, when selling or buying a home, it’s essential to keep track of who has ownership rights over them to avoid confusion and potential legal issues later on.
Solar System Condition
While they may not be top of mind when you think about the value of a house, solar panels can significantly impact property value. Therefore, ensuring they are in a well-working condition is essential. The solar system’s condition is important since it directly affects its efficiency, functionality and lifespan.
Well-maintained and properly functioning solar panels are more likely to attract potential buyers and contribute positively to the property’s overall worth. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and inspection, helps to ensure the panel’s performance and longevity. Damaged or outdated panels can decrease efficiency, reducing energy production and increasing potential repair costs. Therefore, keeping solar panels in good condition maximizes their energy-generating potential, ultimately increasing the property’s value.
Do Bigger Installations Increase Home Value?
There’s no proven correlation between the size of a solar panel and its increase of a property’s value. wattage won’t result in more money, so when choosing a solar panel or solar system for your home, just choose one that will generate the right amount of energy for your household.
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Solar Panel Benefits
Home Solar is great for you, for your community and for future generations – it’s one of the most responsible choices you can make. That’s why every year more American homeowners are making the switch to solar power.
Top 5 Benefits of Running Your Home on Solar Power:
Save 20-100% On Electricity Costs – Enjoy reduced electric bills as soon as the solar panel system is turned on. Whether purchased outright or through a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) once the system starts generating electricity, energy savings range from 20-100% while reducing dependence on polluting fossil fuels. It’s like having a personal power station on your rooftop or property. If the solar power system is owned outright, it will earn revenue from the energy it produces and make profits. If the system is through a PPA, pay 0 for solar panels and installation and just pay for electricity at a rate that is lower than utility status quo. No matter what option you choose, once you switch to clean, green solar power, you are guaranteed substantial savings.
Profit From Your Solar Panels – Homeowners who own their solar panel systems outright don’t just reduce their electric bills but actually start making money by producing more electricity than they use. It goes back into the “grid,” earning real money for what the system supplies to the power company… Our clients enjoy seeing their meter spin backwards.
Increase Your Home’s Value – Solar homes are in demand. Buyers enjoy the benefits of an already installed solar panel system – and all of Solar Energy World’s warranties, service and support that go along with it. Each Kilowatt installed adds 3,000 to the home’s resale value on average. For more info on this topic click here.
Reduce Air, Water and Land Pollution – Solar power makes sense because tomorrow matters. Solar panel power reduces pollution caused by traditional power generation. With solar panels you are doing your part to ensure a cleaner, better world for future generations. For more information on this, click here.
Use energy guilt free – Never worry (or argue) about turning up the air conditioning or the heat again! (Many homeowners report this is an unexpected but very satisfying benefit!)
Is Solar right for You? Your Free Solar Analysis will include a customized cost benefit analysis that shows you all the various ways you can go solar with Solar Energy World including our RateGuardian(TM) PPA that allows you to get solar panels and installation for 0 Down and only pay for electricity at a rate lower than utility status quo. You will also see how quickly you can recover your initial investment and start earning real money from your solar panel system if you decide to own your system.
Solar Power is Clean Power
If you wish to decrease your carbon footprint to help protect the environment, going solar is one of the most effective ways to do this. Solar is good for our environment. Here’s why…
Electricity production is responsible for a large percentage of all carbon emissions in the United States. Going solar helps to decrease the effects of those emissions. The average household emits approximately 20 metric tons of carbon pollution each year. By installing a solar power system, a typical two-person household reduces their carbon emissions by three to four tons annually.
Solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions because the electricity that solar panels produce have low emissions. Most of America’s greenhouse gas emissions come from a combination of mobile sources (cars and trucks) and the power plants that generate energy.
Great News for Environmentally-Conscious Homeowners! Solar Saves Money Too!
The good news for homeowners who care about the environment but who have not switched to renewable energy yet is today it is easier than ever before to start saving with solar power. Once your home solar system is up and running you not only reduce your negative environmental impact, you will also cut your electricity costs from 20-100% depending upon whether you choose to own your solar system outright, or go with a Solar Lease or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
With a Zero-Down PPA or lease you have 0 upfront costs for solar panels and installation. With approved credit, you can have a solar power system installed and only pay for electricity each month at a rate that’s at least 20% less than what your monthly electric bill was prior to going solar – so you start saving money as soon as your solar panels are installed.
If you are interested in going solar, the best thing to do is to contact us to learn if your home qualifies for solar. Simply fill out the form below.
Yes, You Can Use Solar Power as a Renter
You don’t need to own your home to start adopting solar energy.
Andrew Blok has been an editor at CNET covering HVAC and home energy, with a FOCUS on solar, since October 2021. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make Smart energy decisions. He’s a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.
Forty-four million households rent their homes. While these renters likely can’t make major changes to their homes, they have plenty of options for saving electricity and money. They can seal up their Windows. lower their water heater’s temperature. unplug appliances and turn off their lights. But larger moves, like buying solar panels. are likely out of reach.
Renters aren’t without solar-powered options, though. While landlords likely won’t install solar panels on a rental property (though they could), renters have ways large and small to use some solar electricity. While inflation is driving up household costs. you can save money around the house by taking getting creative about where your energy comes from.
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.
How to ask your landlord to go solar
While it might seem impossible to convince a landlord to put thousands of dollars of improvement into the house you live in, it’s worth a shot. And the proposal might not be as outlandish as it first sounds, especially if you rent a single family home.
Solar panels‘ appeal for many who decide to buy them is long-term savings. If your landlord pays utilities as part of your rental agreement, the savings could be enough to convince them. If the tenant is on the hook for paying the electric bill, a more persuasive argument might be increased property values. Research in 2019 by the real estate website Zillow found that solar panels boosted the resale value of a home 4.1% in the US. In New York City, homes with solar sold for 5.4% more, the highest premium in the country.
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.
Whatever your tactic, you’ll want to go in prepared. Make sure you know key facts like how much electricity costs over a month and year, whether net metering is available and how much solar panels are likely to cost. A few success stories online highlight the way creative solutions like cost sharing and rent negotiations can help convince a landlord.
How to subscribe to community solar
In much of America, you can only buy electricity from one option: your utility. But in a growing number of states consumers have a choice thanks to community solar.
Community solar allows people to subscribe to a portion of a solar array and receive credits for the electricity their portion generates. A community solar subscriber will often see credits on their utility bill, bringing down overall electricity costs. They’ll also receive the solar renewable energy certificates, or SRECs, for that electricity, which represent and give them sole claim to its environmental benefits.
As of the end of 2021, 39 states had community solar projects, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported, though not all of those projects are created equally. Of those states, 22 have legislation supporting community solar, which typically makes it more competitive. In these states, community solar subscriptions can be cheaper than buying electricity only from a utility. In states without supporting legislation, solar subscriptions can cost a premium. Some utilities might have an option to purchase green power directly from them.
How to purchase renewable energy certificates
If community solar is unavailable, you can buy SRECs. There’s some debate about the environmental value of buying SRECs voluntarily. In states where utilities and others are required to get a certain amount of electricity from solar, mandated purchases of SRECs have helped make solar projects profitable and expand the solar industry.
While purchasing SRECs for personal electricity use may not have a profound impact on the energy market, you will be able to say that you used solar electricity, as long as you don’t resell them.
Small steps to adopting solar
There are plenty of products that allow you to go solar in smaller ways.
- Use a solar powered light to illuminate a dark walkway.
- Find a solar device charger that works for you.
- Take a solar, not gas or diesel, generator on your camping trips.
- Opt for the solar version of home devices, like security cameras.
If your goal is to lower your dependence on dirty energy, think about efficiency. Seal your Windows. turn off lights. lower your water heater temperature or shift your thermostat’s temperature or location.
Expand your definition of solar power
Just like there’s nothing in the rules that says a dog can’t play basketball, there’s nothing that says you can’t redefine solar power for your own personal use.
Do you have a south-facing window that lets in warming sunlight on cold days? Say some of your heating is solar powered (and be sure to open the blinds when the sun is out). Did you grow a tomato on your deck? Call it a solar-grown tomato. Hang a clothesline and dry your clothes using the power of the sun.
While the above examples stray pretty far from the standard definition of solar power, they show that incorporating solar power isn’t an impossibility for a renter, even if a landlord doesn’t install rooftop solar when asked.