Off Grid Solar System Cost (What Can You Expect to Pay?)
Taking your home completely off-grid with solar is a much more involved and expensive of a process than many people first think. The setup requires various different components, some of which are much more complex than the more common grid-tied solar installation. However, going completely off-grid with solar may be the only viable solution for a home that’s located in the middle of nowhere, or when the owner wants to rely solely on their own energy solutions. If this sounds like you, you may be curious about how much off grid solar system cost? Assuming electric consumption is that of the U.S. national average, an off-grid solar system would cost between 30,392 – 48,048. The major price fluctuation is largely due to battery bank type, with LFP batteries costing much more than flooded lead-acid. Lastly, before we continue going into detail on each off-grid solar system component and its cost, we need to make sure you understand something. Solar system cost is largely dictated by 3 things. Your country, peak sun hours, and electricity consumption. The average price we gave above assumes you live in the United States. Costs in Australia for example would be much different.
What Components Are Typically Used in an Off grid Solar Power System?
In this section we will outline all the different components that make up an off-grid solar system and how each will influence the overall cost of your system. Keep in mind each component that makes up an off-grid solar system varies in cost based on its size and brand. For example, if your home uses a lot of electricity it is going to need a larger-sized battery bank to offset your consumption on overcast days. The larger the battery bank, the higher the costs. We will factor in location in the next section, here we want to talk about each of the main components that make up an off-grid solar system and what you can expect their costs to be.
#2 Charge Controller
Charge controllers regulate the rate at which electric current is added to or drawn from the electric batteries.
The type/power rating of these devices generally determines the price.
We recommend installing MPPT charge controllers, Victron is a fantastic brand.
#3 Hybrid Power Inverter
Inverters are pretty much the life force behind your off-grid solar system. Without them, your setup won’t work.
They essentially transform the DC electricity from your batteries into useable AC electricity which you can use to power your appliances around the house.
#4 Battery Bank
Perhaps the most expensive component of your entire off-grid solar system setup.
Battery banks are one of the defining components of an off-grid solar system.
They allow your home to be powered during periods of overcast conditions or at night time.
Battery technology is still quite expensive, particularly lithium-ion technology.
For the most part we have covered the main components in an off-grid solar system.
However, there are of course a few more smaller components that will add to your cost. We have chosen to leave them out as they really all depend on the individual setup.
Off Grid Solar Systems: Estimated Costs Table
The overall cost of your system really all comes down to what size you have installed.
The larger the size the more expensive.
The size you require all comes down to your energy consumption and your offset requirements.
For this reason we have included averages instead of exact amounts as the cost of an off-grid solar system varies way too much person to person.
Solar Tax Credits
One perk available to those of you who live in the U.S. is the solar tax credit. Our averages do not take into account your ability to claim solar incentives for your solar installation.
Congress passed an extension of the ITC, which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023. (Systems installed before December 31, 2019 were eligible for a 30% tax credit.) The tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless Congress renews it Energy.Gov
Taking these credits into consideration, our average amounts get reduced to:
Off Grid Solar Systems: Complete Costs Table
|Daily Summer: 5.80 Daily Winter: 2.90
|Price: 8,349. 14,220
|Daily Summer: 13.00 Daily Winter: 6.50
|Price: 11,559. 16,921
|Daily Summer: 17.30 Daily Winter: 8.60
|Price: 13,916. 23,571
|Daily Summer: 21.60 Daily Winter: 10.80
|Price: 15,634. 25,289
|Daily Summer: 25.90 Daily Winter: 13.00
|Price: 18,303. 27,958
|Daily Summer: 28.80 Daily Winter: 14.40
|Price: 22,654. 32,699
|Daily Summer: 34.60 Daily Winter: 17.30
|Price: 24,451. 34,496
|Daily Summer: 43.20 Daily Winter: 21.60
|Price: 33,462. 54,111
|Daily Summer: 46.10 Daily Winter: 23.00
|Price: 32,065. 48,565
|Daily Summer: 51.80 Daily Winter: 25.90
|Price: 32,815. 53,464
|Daily Summer: 57.60 Daily Winter: 28.80
|Price: 35,653. 52,154
|Daily Summer: 64.80 Daily Winter: 32.40
|Price: 47,263. 76,984
|Daily Summer: 77.80 Daily Winter: 38.90
|Price: 51,180. 80,900
(Table courtesy of Unbound Solar)
You may use the above table to figure out your estimated costs based on your homes solar requirements.
Final Off Grid Power Thoughts
Understanding the costs involved with your off-grid solar system is the first step in figuring out whether this is a viable option for your household.
An off-grid solar system may allow you to live in more isolated areas, ones closer to nature without grid-tied electricity supply.
This in itself would generally reduce the overall purchase cost of your household. Perhaps this is some incentive to justify the large cost of an off-grid solar system.
Is Off Grid solar expensive? Off-grid solar systems are expensive. A solar panel setup that supplies all the energy needs of a home tends to be very expensive. Compared to a grid-connected solar system, an off-grid solar system requires more panels, an inverter with a higher voltage capacity, and a large amount of solar battery storage.
Does solar increase home value? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that every dollar saved on energy through solar increases home value by 20. That’s a return on investment of 20 to 1 According to Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for approximately 4 percent higher on average than homes without solar energy.
How much does a 100kW solar system cost? The average commercial solar panel cost for 100kW solar system in the US is about 325,000 with average ranging from 50,000 for a 25kW system to 600,000 for a 250kW solar system.
Portable Solar-Powered Charging Lockers. Convenient Power On-the-Go
Picture this: you’re hiking up a mountain, taking breathtaking photos of the view and candid snapshots with your friends, when suddenly, your phone.
Understanding Renewable Energy: Types Benefits
In this article, we will provide a detailed breakdown of the various types of renewable energy sources, their advantages and disadvantages, and the.
Understanding Net Metering its Benefits For Solar Energy Users
In this article, we’ll delve into the details of this policy, exploring the potential benefits and drawbacks for individuals and businesses. We’ll.
The Importance of Reducing Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels
In this article, we will explore why reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is essential and how we can go about doing so in the first place.
Interested in Solar Panels? Here Is Some Advice.
Buying a solar energy system can be expensive and confusing. Here are some things to think about if you are in the market for solar panels.
Give this article Share full article
Thanks to technological and manufacturing advances, costs for solar panels have tumbled in the last decade, making solar energy more popular for homeowners. But figuring out how to add a solar energy system to your roof can be daunting.
Workers installed a solar and battery system this winter at my home in a New York City suburb. It was a major investment but has already begun paying off in lower utility bills and providing peace of mind that we will have at least some electricity during power outages, which are common here because storms often knock down power lines.
Interest in rooftop solar systems is high and growing as energy rise and concerns about climate change mount. Many people are also worried about blackouts caused by extreme weather linked to climate change. A Pew Charitable Trust survey in 2019 found that 6 percent of Americans had already installed solar panels and that another 46 percent were considering it.
“The biggest thing is that solar is a lot cheaper than it used to be even in places like New York City and Boston, where it tends to be more expensive than in the suburbs,” said Anika Wistar-Jones, director of affordable solar at Solar One, an environmental education nonprofit in New York City that helps affordable housing and low-income communities adopt solar energy.
If you are interested in solar, here are some things to consider.
Can you add solar panels to your roof?
This question might seem simple, but finding the answer can be surprisingly complicated. One installer told me that my roof was so shaded by trees that solar panels would not generate enough electricity to make the investment worthwhile. Hearing another opinion was worth it: The installer I hired allayed those concerns and recommended some tree trimming. On sunny days my system often generates more power than my family uses.
It can also be difficult to find out what your local government and utility will permit because the information is usually not readily available in plain language. I learned that lesson at my previous home.
When I lived in New York City, it took months of research to learn that I couldn’t install panels on my roof. The city requires a large clear area on flat roofs like mine for firefighters to walk on, it turns out. And I couldn’t install solar panels on a canopy — a rooftop framework that elevates the panels — because it would violate a city height restriction for homes on my block.
The best approach is to cast a wide net and talk to as many solar installers as you can. You might also consult neighbors who have put solar panels on their roofs: People in many parts of the country have banded together in what are known as solarize campaigns to jointly purchase solar panels to secure lower from installers.
“That has been really successful in neighborhoods and communities all across the country,” said Gretchen Bradley, community solar manager at Solar One.
Can I afford a solar installer?
You should seek proposals from several installers. Comparison shopping services like EnergySage and SolarReviews make it easy to contact multiple installers.
When reviewing proposals, pay attention to how much the system will cost per watt. This tells you how much you are paying for the system’s electricity-generating capacity and allows you to compare offers.
The median quote for new rooftop solar systems is 2.75 per watt, according to EnergySage. That works out to about 26,125 for an average system of 9,500 watts before taking into account a federal tax credit. For the 2022 tax year, the credit stands at 26 percent of the cost of solar system; it is slated to drop to 22 percent in 2023 and end in 2024. Many states, including Arizona, California, New York and Massachusetts, also offer residents incentives to install solar systems, such as rebates and tax breaks.
can vary greatly because of location, local labor costs and other factors, like what kind of home you live in and whether other work is needed before installation. If your roof is old or damaged, for example, it might need to be replaced before a solar system can be installed.
Rooftop solar systems can reduce monthly utility bills, depending on electricity rates, how much energy a home uses and state policies. Systems that save more money will help buyers recoup their investment faster. Vikram Aggarwal, the chief executive and founder of EnergySage, said solar systems should ideally pay for themselves within 10 years.
The excess electricity that rooftop systems produce is sent to the electric grid, and utilities typically compensate homeowners for that energy through credits on their monthly bills. The value of those credits varies by state.
How should I pay for it?
If you can afford to buy a solar system outright, you will get the best deal by paying cash. Systems purchased with loans or through leases tend to cost more, especially over the life of the contract. Shopping around is your best hedge against falling prey to dubious or predatory agreements.
The main advantage of leasing a solar energy system is that your costs are typically fixed for the duration of the contract. But experts caution that leases can be hard to get out of and could become a burden when you sell your home, because buyers might not want to take on your contract.
Mr. Aggarwal noted that leases “make sense” for some people who may not earn enough to claim the federal tax credit. He suggested that people interested in solar leases get three or four quotes from different installers.
Should I buy a battery?
Adding a battery to your solar system will allow you to store some of the excess electricity it generates to use during a blackout or in the evening and night. A solar system without a battery will not keep you supplied with power during an outage because most residential systems are automatically turned off when the grid goes down.
Batteries can be expensive, especially if you want to run large appliances and provide power for many hours or days. A 10- to 12-kilowatt-hour battery, which can store roughly a third of a home’s typical daily electricity use, costs about 13,000, according to EnergySage.
The federal tax credit for rooftop solar systems applies to the costs of batteries that are purchased with solar panels or if they are added in a following tax year. About 28 percent of residential solar systems installed in 2021 included batteries, up from 20 percent in 2020, according to a survey by EnergySage.
The Wirecutter, a product recommendation service from The New York Times, has a detailed guide for buying solar and battery systems.
Can I use my electric car as a backup battery?
Most electric cars cannot provide power to homes. Only a few models, like the Ford F-150 Lightning and the Hyundai Ioniq 5, have that ability, and they are in incredibly short supply.
But many energy experts believe that it will eventually be common for car batteries to send power back to homes and the electric grid.
In many parts of the United States, extended power outages may happen just once or twice a year. As a result, Mr. Aggarwal said, it may not make sense to invest in an expensive home battery, which usually holds much less energy than electric-car batteries. “Everybody is starting to talk about using your car to run your home.”
If I can’t install solar panels, can I still buy solar energy?
You might be able to join a community solar project, which are usually installed on open land or on the roofs of warehouses and other large buildings.
While the rules vary by state, community solar programs generally work in similar ways. Members get two bills a month: one from the community solar project and one from their utility. The projects sell electricity at a discount to the rate charged by your utility, and each kilowatt-hour of power you buy shows up as a credit for a kilowatt-hour of energy on your utility bill.
New Yorkers who join a community solar project, for example, can save about 10 percent on their monthly electricity bill, Ms. Bradley said. “It doesn’t cost anything to sign up or leave a project,” she added.
While most states allow community solar, a majority of such projects are in just four states — Florida, Minnesota, New York and Massachusetts — according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
You can search for projects in your area on websites including EnergySage and PowerMarket or through state agencies, like the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
`An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the timing of a tax credit for the cost of batteries on a home solar energy system. Taxpayers can claim the credit for the batteries in a tax year after the year in which they installed the solar panels; it is not the case that solar panels and batteries must be purchased in the same year to qualify for the credit.
How we handle corrections
Vikas Bajaj, an assistant editor in the Business section, was previously a member of the editorial board and a correspondent based in Mumbai, India. Before that, he covered housing and financial markets from New York. @ vikasbajaj
A version of this article appears in print on. Section B. Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Going Solar? Here’s What You Need Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
Give this article Share full article
Solar Panel Cost in Nebraska (2023 Local Savings Guide)
Here’s a quick look at the estimated cost of solar in Nebraska:
- Average Cost Per Watt: 2.83
- Cost of Average System: 20,800
- Cost of Energy Without Solar: 43,136
- Payback Period: 16 Years
- Lifetime Savings of Going Solar: 22,336
Average system size is calculated using data from the Energy Information Administration. This price is after tax credit. Payback period is calculated assuming the system is purchased in cash.
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Written by Karsten Neumeister
Karsten is an editor and energy specialist focused on environmental, social and cultural development. His work has been shared by sources including NPR, the World Economic Forum, Marketwatch and the SEIA, and he is certified in ESG with the CFA Institute. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the solar energy sector, studying energy policy, climate tech and environmental education. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace. Learn About This Person
Reviewed by Melissa Smith
Melissa is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainability studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit that’s featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral. Learn About This Person
Why You Can Trust EcoWatch
Our content is created and advised by solar industry experts. giving you the information you need to make Smart decisions about solar for your home. No other site has access to the same data and insider information as EcoWatch, and you can rest assured our reviews and rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.
Jump to Section:
Find the best price from solar installers in your area.
Cost of Solar Panels in Nebraska
Solar panel systems in Nebraska cost around 2.83 per watt, which is significantly above the national average cost of 2.66. Most Nebraska homeowners spend an average of 109.39 on their electric bills per month, and this energy consumption requires a system size of 10.5 kW to offset. At 2.83 per watt, that’s a typical cost of 29,715 before the 30% federal tax credit, or 20,800 after the credit is considered. This total is above the national average due to the higher per-watt cost.
The size of the photovoltaic system needed will typically be the most influential cost factor. Each kilowatt you need to add to your solar array will add approximately 2,830 to your total. Most Nebraskans need a system that’s around 10.5 kilowatts, but the table below provides some other common sizes in the area, along with average pricing before and after the 30% federal tax credit.
|Size of Solar Panel System
|Nebraska Solar Panel Cost
|Cost After Federal Tax Credit
Interested in seeing which solar installers in Nebraska are the most reputable and reliable? Click here.
Outstanding Regional Installer
GenPro Energy Solutions
Outstanding Regional Installer
What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Nebraska?
As shown above, the size of the system, which is mainly determined by your average monthly energy needs, is the most influential cost factor to consider when pricing your solar panel system.
If you have a more modest home and lower energy consumption, you may only require a 5 kW system, which would cost you roughly 14,150 (before incentives) in Nebraska. On the other hand, a larger house with high energy needs could require a 15 kW system that would run upwards of 42,400 (before incentives).
Aside from size, the below factors can also play a significant role in what you’ll pay to convert to renewable energy.
It’s not just how many panels, but which brand of panels (and other necessary solar components) you choose that can raise or lower your total solar system cost.
Believe it or not, Nebraska is the 14th sunniest state in the nation, which means you probably won’t need the most expensive, high-efficiency solar panels to power your home, so long as your solar panel array is well-positioned to receive direct sunlight.
In simpler terms, this means more affordable solar panels like Silfab or QCells will work efficiently enough to get the job done.
However, if your roof receives periods of sunlight obstruction, you may want to spend a bit more money on higher-efficiency solar panels with half-cell technology, like REC, to ensure your system still produces energy even when partially shaded.
Nebraska is no stranger to inclement weather, seeing thunderstorms, tornadoes and an annual snowfall of 28 inches. For this reason, many Nebraska homeowners choose to add a solar battery to their solar system to keep the lights on in the case of any power outages.
Solar batteries can add about 10,000 to the final project costs.
You won’t have to worry too much about having snow on your solar panels. as it typically melts off without too much harm (and provides free panel cleaning). However, if you live in an area that tends to see heavy snowfall, you may want to consider investing in more durable solar panels.
Nebraska Solar Financing
As we’ve mentioned, it’s a bit more expensive to go solar in Nebraska compared to other states. While paying upfront will save you the most money in the long run, most homeowners aren’t able to shell out 29,715 in cash for the 10.5 kW system needed to power a typical Nebraska home.
However, there are financing options throughout Nebraska that can help its residents purchase a system without having the break the bank.
- Nebraska Dollar and Energy Saving Loans: The Nebraska Energy Office makes low-interest loans available for qualifying residential renewable energy projects and energy-efficient upgrades. Simple interest rates are 5%, 3.5% or less, depending on the project.
- Mosaic Loan: Offers several different loan structures to cover the upfront costs of renewable energy systems.
- Property-Assessed Clean Energy Financing (PACE): Offers unique solar financing options to homeowners and business owners looking to convert to solar. The loans cover all upfront costs for eligible parties and are repaid over time with relatively little interest. PACE loans are attached to the property rather than the individual, so the value of the home is often used as collateral rather than an individual’s credit score.
- USDA REAP: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) that extends to agricultural producers in Nebraska. If more than 50% of your gross annual income comes from agriculture, you may qualify for a grant of up to 25% of your total system cost, or a loan to cover up to 75%.
Some cities and municipalities in Nebraska will offer additional rebates or grants that can help lower the cost of your solar panel system. Be sure to ask your solar installer about what options are available to you or check out the DSIRE database for more financing information.
Nebraska Solar Installation Company
There are over a dozen solar installers in the Cornhusker state, yet it’s unlikely you’d receive two identical quotes for your solar panel system. Each company offers different pricing based on individual labor costs, availability, experience and brands offered.
Some of the top solar companies operating in Nebraska include GenPro Energy, GRNE Solar and ADT Solar (formerly SunPro Solar).
GenPro Energy is a great company that’s known for low prices, but its warranty doesn’t cover physical protection (only performance), which may not be ideal given the frequency of tornadoes in the state. Comparatively, GRNE will cost you a bit more but offers a 25-year equipment warranty.
It’s important to consider all of these factors before rushing to choose the company that offers you the best quote. Remember that the lowest price doesn’t always mean the best deal.
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 EnergySage.com, an information website for residential alternative energy.
Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Be a smarter, better informed investor.
Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters
Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more. straight to your e-mail.
Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice. straight to your e-mail.
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.