Solar Panels and your home

Home Improvement

Solar Panels and your home

Solar Panels are a great way to harness nature and save resources / money. You can attach them to your roof (or other locations) and use them to power a portion or your entire home. But before you do, make sure you have the facts.

Recently I looked into solar panels for my own home, and I was surprised at what I discovered. I like the idea of solar. I like the thought of harnessing the natural light and breaking away from the power companies. I talked to a few companies and I was surprised at many of the claims their salesmen told me.

Do Solar panels add value to you home?

Every one of the salesmen we spoke with lead with this statement and frankly, it just isn’t true. While solar panels may help you sell your home faster, in my area it doesn’t add value. I did an informal poll with agents and most said the same thing. In fact, many had experienced trouble when selling a home with solar panels and home owners still owed money on the panels.

The cost of energy is rising and solar panels lock in your costs.

Many of the salesmen quoted 6 to8% price increases per year for power. Well not in Virginia, electricity is regulated by the state and rates have to be approved. Based upon what we have found, those claim rates are rising do not appear to be true.

Solar Panels pay for themselves.

In short yes, but that is making a few assumptions. Solar panels take about 12 to 15 years to pay for themselves in my area based upon my current usage. Breaking even after 12 years doesn’t sound like a good investment to me. Put that same money in a mutual find and you can get about 10% per year. Also to save money you have to assume they will still work in 12 to 15 years. Solar panels do have some power degradation so will they put out enough power or work at all. Yes they have a warranty, but what happens if the company goes out of business?

Are solar panels are free for the first year

No, they are not. Solar companies know about the tax breaks the government will give you for installing them. They will collect the tax breaks instead of you. But again this only covers part of the price to buy the panels. The rest of the balance they place a lean against your house. So if you want to refi or sell your home you have to pay the balance off for the panels.

Solar will save you money

Solar works when the sun us shinning and without a battery backup it doesn’t store energy. Did I mention the batter is an additional $10,000 in 2020? When the soalr company does the install, they put a special meter on your power allowing you and the power company to tract how much power you are selling to them. But don’t get excited, many of the power companies don’t pay you for power. They just offset your costs for the power you use. For example, it a bright day and everyone is away from the home for school, work.. the ac doesn’t run much as you send all of the extra power to the electric company. That night, its cold, you are running the heat and using the power up. If you use more than you generate they bill you the difference. However most power companies will not credit you the difference at the end of the month, so if you generate more power than you consume, they take it and don’t give you anything. Oh and don’t forget the power company has a minimum bill so they will still bill you when you don’t use their power.

Will I still have power, if power from the electric company goes out?

Well that depends, do you have a battery? What is the weather like? If you don’t have a battery and you are in the middle of a big storm, the answer most likely is no.  A storm will block the sun and the panels do not generate energy when they dont get enough power.

Can I put Solar Panes on the roof of my house?

It depends, weight wise most solar panels are fine to go on a roof. But there are other factors, how old is the roof? How is the home oriented towards the sun?  Most of the solar companies are good about these two things. You need enough sun light to make it worth the investment. So they will look up your home on google maps and see how the home is oriented to the sun and do you have lots of trees. If the estimated roof life is too short, the company will not want to install the panels until you replace the roof.. BTW- many of the solar companies are also roofers.. 

SO is it worth putting solar panels on my house?

In conclusion, solar power is a great way to become energy independent and to help with the environment. Depending upon where you live buying Solar Panels is a choice you make and may not be the best investment of your money. For me, living in Virginia, and my power usage. It just wasn't a good investment.