Home solar may be the energy solution of the future, offering clean, reliable energy without having to rely on electricity companies and their high energy rates. With new financing options in the works from some companies, getting into solar may soon be easier than ever before.
If you like the notion of energy-independence, then picturing your home with its own solar panels might make you giddy. Before you get too excited, though, there are a few things that it’s important you understand about solar energy first.
Solar Is Expensive
If you want a full solar array capable of powering your home, there might be a significant cost involved. Depending upon the size of your home and the extent of your energy requirements, your solar installation could easily cost you $30,000 to $45,000 or more.
You may be able to finance the panels and installation, but it’s still a major expense. Tax credits or other incentive programs may help to offset the price, but the availability of these programs and what’s needed to qualify can vary from year to year or by locale.
Recouping Your Investment
The money you save on your electric bill should eventually be more than what you pay to have solar panels installed, but it may take a while for you to save more than you spent. Based on the size of your solar panels, where your property is located and how much of an effect the panels have on your electric bill, it could take 10 years or longer for you to recoup your initial solar investment.
Solar Mounting Concerns
Not all homes are ideal for solar. If your property has a lot of tall trees surrounding it or you otherwise experience a whole lot of shade on your house, this can have a negative effect on how well your solar panels function.
Also, if you’ve had issues with your roof in the past you may have a hard time installing a roof-mounted solar array given the weight of the gear. If you opt for an off-the-roof array to take advantage of the best lighting on your property, there will be added expense involved since you’ll have to put in a concrete slab and use different mounting equipment as well.
Do You Have a Battery?
Many individuals think of solar as being a way to keep power no matter what’s happening with the grid, but that isn’t always the case. A handful of solar arrays are designed to back-feed power into the grid itself, essentially selling the energy that you generate to the electric company and lowering your bill that way.
If there’s a blackout or other problems with the grid, however, you’ll nevertheless be affected because that power isn’t being stored locally. If you want local power storage, you will need batteries… and that can be even more expensive, depending upon your home energy usage and whether you want the batteries to supply some or all of your electricity needs.
Cleaning and Maintenance
One thing that’s left out of a lot of solar conversations is the ongoing cleaning and maintenance requirements that solar panels have. The effectiveness of solar panels can be affected by dust and grime buildup, so your panels will have to be cleaned as part of your normal spring or fall cleaning patterns.
Damage to panels and dead cells can also affect them and will need an installer to come out and fix. If you have batteries as part of your unit, these may have to be replaced after several years as well as they can start holding less of a charge over time.
Home Valuation Effects
Having a functional solar installation can have a wonderful positive effect on your home’s value, especially as energy costs continue to rise. It may reduce the number of interested parties a bit while solar is still relatively uncommon for homes, however.
While some buyers will be excited about the idea of buying a home with solar, others may wonder how trustworthy it is or worry about future maintenance costs. While you’ll be able to get more for the property if you decide to sell, it could take you longer to find a buyer.