3 Ways To Determine If Solar Panels Are Right For You


Why You Should Consider Solar Power

With yearly installations more than quadrupling since 2010 and the average price of systems continuously decreasing, solar power is quickly becoming available and attractive to more and more homeowners. There’s a long list of benefits for those who choose to install solar power systems, benefits which go much farther than just the mental security that comes with greener, more efficient, guilt-free electricity use. One of the most surprising of these benefits is the potential increase in a home’s value with the addition of solar panels – even adding a small solar power system can increase your home’s market value by thousands of dollars. Other draws include:
  • Monthly savings
  • Tax incentives
  • High-tech systems which allow for easy energy monitoring
However, many people still seem to be on the fence about solar power - there’s also a hefty initial investment that accompanies installing a system. There’s some math to be done and an array of questions to answer before homeowners can assess whether solar power is a viable energy option. These factors often deter potential owners from taking the necessary steps and converting to solar power. The common questions of those considering solar power can usually be boiled down to just one concern: “are solar panels worth it?”  Here’s some factors to consider when answering this question. SEE ALSO: Going Green Lowers Your Home Insurance

1. Ask Yourself These Important Questions

Before heading into the decision-making aspects, here’s a short list of questions to answer in order to determine whether your home is compatible with solar power:
  • Do you own your home?
  • Is your roof in good condition?
  • Do you have over 100 square feet of available, unshaded roof space?
It’s important to remember that the effectiveness and practicality of solar panels may rely on the location, shade-coverage, and orientation of your home. Weather doesn’t matter as much as you may expect it to - solar panels can still generate energy in cloudy weather. However, it could be important to consider more subtle implications of weather. For those living in areas susceptible to heavy snow, weather could impede energy production, making it necessary to shovel your roof as well as your driveway on snowy mornings. Additionally, a roof with the right orientation for optimal coverage could make the difference in savings, so it’s important to consult with professionals in deciding whether your home is a good fit for solar power. Usually, this just means ensuring that your roof is south-facing and unshaded for a large majority of the day, from 10am to 4pm.

2. Weigh The Benefits Of Solar Energy Against The Costs

One of the most surprising facts about solar power systems is that they’re often less of an investment than anticipated. Some are prepared for a 20 or 25 year period of ownership before their investment is paid back. However, recent reductions in the cost of solar panels, along with tax incentives and rebates offered by the government, often reduces this payback period to just five or 10 years. In many states, local and regional tax incentives for solar power implementation can bring the initial investment of installing a system down to $10,000. Your individual payback period will vary depending on your state, qualifications for government programs, home, and energy usage, but it’s easy to find and compare quotes and determine your savings. Also, though the average monthly savings with solar power varies (ranging from $60 monthly to over $200), it’s also important to remember that while electricity costs are expected to increase in the coming years, the cost of solar power is estimated to stay the same, meaning that homeowners with solar panels can look forward to increasing returns as the years go on.

3. Consider The Market Value Of Your Home

Installing solar panels also brings a less-well known benefit: solar power installations have been shown to significantly increase the market values of homes. The total increase in market value fluctuates across different states, and may even depend on how many other houses have solar panels in your neighborhood. However, a comprehensive study conducted in California has shown that only one kilowatt of solar power results in a $5,911 increase in market value on average. The smallest solar systems are usually at least 3 kW, so systems of any size can add a significant chunk of market value to your home, making solar power a reasonable option even for those who may be planning to sell their home in the future. SEE ALSO: Creating Green Homes: The 5 Step System

So, Are Solar Panels Worth It?

It’s hard to determine whether the benefits of solar power outweigh the costs in a general sense. While solar power has become much more affordable, accessible, and popular in the last couple of years, it’s still usually important to consider implementation on a case by case basis. It often takes an examination of your family’s energy consumption, your home size, and your location in order to determine whether solar power is a viable and efficient energy system. However, the anticipated savings, recent drops in price, government-provided incentives, and potential increase in home value make solar panels an attractive option for almost any homeowner to consider.
Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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