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Solar panels seem to pop up on everyone’s roofs these days. Even neighbors you might never expect are taking the solar plunge. With this burst of interest (and government incentives), many wonder, “Are solar panels worth it?”
That’s just what we’ll take a look at in this article. We’ll discuss some of the essential points to consider when deciding if solar is the right choice for your home or if it’s just an expensive trend. Keep reading to find out if solar panels are worth it for you.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels aren’t new technology, but they still have a cloud of mystery surrounding how they work. The good news is that they aren’t all that complicated.
Solar panels contain photovoltaic cells. When faced with sunlight, these cells collect the sun’s energy and transform it into electrical charges. During this process, photons (the light particles) knock electrons off atoms, creating an electric flow.
The electricity produced by this process is direct current, or “DC.” The problem is that our electrical systems use alternating current, or “AC.” For this reason, solar systems require inverters to turn DC into usable AC electricity. This inverter is installed between the solar panels and the home’s electrical system.
Sometimes, the solar system may feed a bank of batteries, allowing the home to store electricity overnight or when cloudy conditions prevent effective electric production. In other cases, the system may wire directly into the home’s grid, allowing the user to back feed energy to the utility company, often for a profit.
Depending on the size of the system, a solar system like the one described above can significantly lower a homeowner’s utility bill. Sometimes, the system’s production may even offset the bill completely. However, this depends on many factors, which may determine whether solar is worth it.
Which Homes Benefit the Most From Solar Panels?
Certain homes benefit from solar more than others. When making a significant upfront investment (up to $25,000 sometimes), knowing if the house can take full advantage of solar is essential. Much of this concerns the alignment of their roof to the southern sky.
Speaking specifically for homes in North America, homes with a south-facing roof section are much better candidates for solar than those with east- and west-facing roofs. Also, homes without tall trees or buildings blocking the sky to their south will benefit more from solar than those next to tall buildings or butted up against forests on their southern side.
When Are Solar Panels Worth It?
There are certainly times when solar panels are worth it. It does depend on a few factors, however.
The location matters. The closer a home is to the equator, the stronger the sun’s intensity and the more potential energy the solar system can create. These homes will see a more significant benefit in terms of energy production than homes in the more northern latitudes.
Also, consider the utility company. Homes in states with more expensive electricity (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, for example) will benefit more from solar panels than those with relatively cheap electricity (Louisiana, Washington, Oregon, and North Carolina).
Tax incentives at the federal, local, and state levels
Specific incentive programs may make installing solar panels worth the investment. For instance, folks installing solar panels between 2022 and 2032 may use a dollar-for-dollar solar tax credit of up to 30% of the system’s overall cost. Depending on the cost of the system and the taxpayer’s finances, this could be reason enough to consider it.
Second, many states and counties offer similar credits, rebates, or exemptions. For instance, New York (one of the most expensive states to purchase electricity) offers dollar-per-watt rebates, up to $5,000 in a tax deduction, sales tax exemptions, and credits back on utility bills for producing more wattage than consumed.
Energy Bills and Consumption
The two main points of a solar system are to reduce the homeowner’s dependence on non-renewable electricity and to lower their energy bills. In most cases, a solar panel system can reduce the homeowner’s electricity usage, reducing their energy bill.
But, in ideal conditions, the best solar panel system may make the homeowner money. As the system produces more electricity than the home uses, the homeowners may be able to sell the extra wattage to the utility company for a few dollars each month. While it’s unlikely to offset the cost of the bill and the installation, money comes into the home that wasn’t before.
Solar panels may increase the value of your house and make it more energy-efficient and economical to maintain over time. Solar panels’ effect on property value may vary according to your location, the caliber of the installation, and the state of the local market. It would be best to remember that the effect on property value might not be seen immediately. For many households, solar panels are an intelligent investment since the long-term reductions in power costs may more than equal the cost of solar panel installation.
Impact on the Environment
The environmental benefits of solar panels are well known. Solar power has the least adverse environmental effects compared to other energy sources since it doesn’t release greenhouse gases or require the extraction, transportation, or burning of fossil fuels. Using solar energy instead of fossil fuels or other kinds of energy generation would undoubtedly reduce pollution and environmental deterioration, even if the construction and disposal of solar panels have specific ecological effects.
What Are the Prices of Solar Panels?
The kind and brand of solar panels, the size of your installation, and your location are some variables that determine their price. The national average is thus around $16,000, although it may vary from $3,500 to $35,000. However, it’s crucial to remember that solar panels may help you save money in the long run by producing your power. These savings often cover the initial installation expenses of the solar panels. It’s also important to note that homes that install solar panels sometimes qualify for government incentives and tax rebates.
Benefits that a solar panel system might provide
A solar panel system has several possible advantages that can help some people decide.
increased value of homes
Solar panel systems may raise a home’s value, enhancing the return from a sale or enabling the homeowner to refinance with a slightly higher loan amount. Depending on the size of the system, the value gain will vary, but some experts think that for every $1 saved on annual electricity expenses, the home’s worth rises by $20.
Lessening Price Fluctuation
Utility providers have a reputation for changing their prices. Additionally, since solar panel systems lessen the house’s reliance on the supply of the electric provider, the homeowner will be less vulnerable to price changes. A more consistent energy bill is a significant advantage, even if the solar panel system cuts the house off the grid.
Homes with solar panel systems may be more resilient to natural catastrophes and power outages in systems built for energy storage (such as those with battery banks). For instance, if a storm knocks out electricity to the grid, the locals may utilize the batteries’ stored energy until the supply is restored. And the batteries will recharge as soon as the sun returns.
Potential Drawbacks of a Solar Panel System
However, life is not all hummingbirds and flowers. Some homeowners could decide against installing solar panels due to a few possible downsides.
Although there are several tax advantages, homeowners will still be responsible for the installation expenses of their solar panel system. A system may cost as little as a few thousand dollars or as much as $25,000. This varies in size and complexity, but the homeowner will be responsible for such charges.
This could be a wise strategy for anyone leasing solar panels to reduce initial expenditures. Remember that when you rent, you often lose out on tax advantages.
Although many solar panel systems are built to run for 20 years or more, there are specific maintenance tasks that the homeowner will need to consider. For instance, the panels need cleaning annually or semi-annually to maintain effectiveness. The panels may significantly increase the cost of the roof directly behind them and require maintenance or replacement.
Despite how common and unobtrusive they are becoming, solar panels are still not everyone’s cup of tea. Solar panels are aesthetically unappealing to many people and could be against bylaws for historic preservation groups.
But each of these situations could have a remedy. It is possible to put an off-roof system on a series of racks or mounts outside the house, but keep in mind that the project’s hardware, cable, and design costs will increase.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put up solar panels on my roof?
The majority of the parts needed to install solar panels are relatively straightforward. Most of the system comprises prefabricated components that require installation, and much of the wiring on the roof is plug-and-play. DIYers should study before trying their building since hooking the panel wiring into the house is a little more challenging. If you don’t want to do it yourself, the top solar businesses often offer speedy, hassle-free installation.
Does installing solar power raise property taxes?
Solar panel installations may increase A home’s value, resulting in higher property taxes. However, they will have assistance offsetting or decreasing the tax payment since many local politicians provide tax credits or deductions.
Can a home be powered only by solar energy?
You may be able to operate your home solely on solar power, depending on the size of your home, how much energy it uses, and how much electricity your solar panels can produce. However, the appropriate battery storage technology is also required to provide a steady power supply, particularly during diminished sunshine.
How durable are solar panels?
Solar panels have a 25–30 year lifespan. You can increase their longevity with appropriate installation, upkeep, and prompt repairs.
How many solar panels do I need?
The number of solar panels you’ll need to install will depend on the size of your house and how much energy it will need to power it. Consider that your home has around 1,500 square feet. You’ll likely need between 15 and 18 solar panels to provide the area’s energy demands.