Home solar panels can be a good investment, but it depends on a number of factors including the cost of electricity in your area, the cost of the solar panels and installation, and the amount of sun your area receives.
Financial savings: One of the main benefits of solar panels is the potential to save money on your electric bills. If you generate more electricity than you use, you can sell the excess back to the grid, earning you credit on your next bill. This can add up to significant savings over time.
Increased property value: According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, homes with solar panels tend to sell for more than similar homes without them.
Environmentally friendly: Solar energy is a clean and renewable source of power that does not produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants. This means that by installing solar panels on your home, you can help reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier environment.
High up-front cost: While the cost of solar panels has come down significantly in recent years, installation and equipment can still be costly. It may take several years for the savings on your electric bill to pay off the cost of the solar panels.
Maintenance: Solar panels require very little maintenance but if you need repairs, it’s not a cheap task. It would be an additional cost to you.
Weather dependence: Solar panels work best in sunny climates, so if you live in an area with frequent cloud cover or storms, your solar panels may not generate as much electricity as you would like.
Contracts: Be sure to do a search for “solar panel regrets” and read some horror stories about how things can go south.
Be careful with long term contracts
Long-term contracts can be a part of purchasing and installing home solar panels. The most common type of contract is a power purchase agreement (PPA). With a PPA, a solar developer installs and maintains the solar panels on your property, and you agree to purchase the electricity generated by the panels at a fixed rate for a specified period of time, usually 20 to 25 years.
This can be a good option for homeowners who want to go solar but are not able or willing to make the large up-front investment required to purchase and install the panels outright. Instead, the solar developer finances, installs, and maintains the solar panels and the homeowner pays for the electricity generated by the panels at a lower rate than what they would pay to the utility company.
However, the downside is that you’ll be locked into the rate for the term of the contract, even if electricity prices rise. It’s also worth noting that you are giving up some control over the solar panels on your property, as the developer is responsible for their maintenance and operation. It’s important to review the contract carefully and to understand the terms and conditions before signing, including who is responsible for maintenance, what happens if you want to move, and what happens if the company goes out of business.
It’s also important to note, that during the contract period, the company who installed the solar panels may have the legal right to use your rooftop, so it’s important to be aware of those rights and the limitations on use before you sign the contract.
It’s worth speaking to a professional solar installer, as well as a lawyer to ensure you understand all the details of the contract before signing it.
Photo 11645295 / Home Solar Panel © Krzyssagit | Dreamstime.com
How much of my energy will solar panels generate?
The amount of energy you can generate from solar panels will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the solar panel system, the amount of sun your area receives, and the efficiency of the panels themselves.
For example, a 5kW solar panel system, which is a common size for residential systems, will typically generate around 400-450 kWh per month in an area with an average of 5 sun-hours per day.
However, solar panels will produce more electricity in sunny climates and less in cloudy or shaded areas, and that’s why it’s important to consider your location and the amount of sun your area receives when determining the potential output of a solar panel system.
If you’re living in a location with abundant sun, it is possible to generate most of the energy your household needs from solar panels. With a properly designed solar panel array, you can offset most, if not all, of your energy needs during the months of good sunlight. In some places, you may be able to generate more energy than you need, which you can then sell back to the grid.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the output of solar panels will decrease over time due to factors such as weathering, soot and dust accumulation, and the natural degradation of the solar cells. Therefore, solar panels need to be cleaned and maintained regularly to keep their efficiency at optimal level.
Ultimately, the best way to determine the amount of energy you can generate from solar panels is to consult with a professional solar installer who can assess your specific location, energy needs, and available roof space, and provide you with a detailed estimate.
How much does the average residential solar installation cost?
In the United States, the average cost of a residential solar panel system is around $3 per watt, or $15,000 for a 5kW system. This cost can range from as low as $2/W to as high as $4/W or even higher, depending on the location, the company doing the installation and the type of equipment used.
Government incentives and financial options, like PPA’s, can also help offset the cost of installation. Additionally, as the cost of electricity continues to rise, the savings generated by a solar panel system will increase, making the system a more financially attractive option over time.
The cost of installation can vary widely based on location, with some states and regions being more expensive than others, and that the average cost that I mentioned is the average cost nationwide. It’s best to check the cost of installation in your specific location by consulting with a professional solar installer, who can give you a more accurate estimate based on your location and energy needs.