Solar panels have become more aesthetically pleasing, easy to install and prices have dropped since they first went into production. For many people, there’s no need to buy more insurance on their solar panels either. So, the lingering question remains: Do you really save money with solar panels? The answer is a definite yes, but how much you save varies from household to household and is very much based on several factors. We give you tips on buying and answer frequently asked questions about going solar below.
Which Solar Panel System Is Best?
Even though prices have dropped on solar panel systems overall, the market is inflated with many companies who spend thousands of dollars marketing to prospective customers, causing rates to rise. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, consumers should compare as many
companies as possible to avoid paying inflated rates. Also, you should make sure that you’re buying a high-quality product to ensure that it works optimally. Buying from a bigger name doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best product, just paying the highest prices. Don’t buy a cheap product that will end up being inefficient. Make sure you are buying a higher-quality equipment. Also, make sure your hardware comes with a comprehensive warranty.
How Much Sun Does My Home Need to Get to Save with Solar?
If you live in a very wooded area and there are trees acting as canopies over your home, your solar panels will not be used to their potential because of all the foliage blocking sunlight. Now, that’s an extreme example, but the truth is that the more exposure your home has to direct sunlight and the angle of your roof (south-facing is best) are very important determinants for how much you’ll be able to utilize your solar panels. Even in places like Seattle, you will save, but not as much as if you live in Southern California or Florida.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
This all depends on the extensiveness of the solar paneling that you choose. Also, some people lease or finance theirs while others pay in full upfront. The savings are greater in the long run if you buy upfront but if that’s not possible you will still save money on electricity.
In 2017, the average homeowner paid between $2.87 and $3.85 per watt to install solar panels. Before tax credits, the average solar system cost $16,800 and between $10,045 and $13,475 after tax credits. Tax credits vary from state to state, so check what yours is.
When shopping for solar panels, always look for rebates. There are also lots of government incentives to buy them so check your local and state policies. There are also some federal tax credits which can save you up to 30% of the full cost of the solar panels you have installed. For state incentives, visit http://www.dsireusa.org/.
How Long Does Installation Take?
Installation of a full solar system can take anywhere between 5 weeks and 6 months. The longer it takes, the more you will pay in labor and the longer you’ll have to wait to save on electricity bills. Make sure to check reviews of your solar service provider. Helpful websites include Yelp.com, Consumeraffairs.com and solarreviews.com. Time consuming factors involved in installation including getting permits and having local authorities do inspections of the panels (see more on this below).
How Much Will I Save?
The average American household spends over $1,400 a year on electricity. Also, electricity rates fluctuate and go up over time, something people don’t always realize until they are older. In fact, they rise at just over 2% annually. This is an incentive for people interested in solar power, which usually only has a one-time cost.
You may, however, still pay electricity bills if the size of your PV system is not as large as needed to take care of 100% of your electricity usage.
Savings tend to increase over time. In a 20-year period, savings can range from $7,000 to $90,000! The wide discrepancy is due to factors that include the climate of the location, electricity rates in that location, as well as the size and quality of the solar panel the homeowner has. For instance, in San Francisco where it’s cool, cloudy and foggy, solar panels will still work and generate some solar energy but not as much as in areas where there is direct sunlight. However, solar panels can be just as efficient in cooler temperatures as they are in hotter ones, just as long as they receive that most important ingredient: sunlight.
Other determining factors for how much you’ll save are the following: the number of trees around your home (especially if they leave the house in full shade), the angle of the roof, the size of the roof, the temperature and latitude.
A professional solar installer can use special tools to measure light patterns to determine how much solar energy you should expect per day, month and year. Hold the company to their word and request a guarantee.
Before doing anything, make sure you have the proper building permits. Contact your city’s zoning departments to find out if you are eligible for a permit.
Why Should I Buy Solar Panels Besides the Savings?
If you are concerned about the environment and want to play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, you should consider buying solar panels.
Solar panels can also be incredible sources of backup energy if there’s ever a blackout or electricity cuts if you have the appropriate batteries.
Will My Homeowners Insurance Go Up if I Get Solar Panels?
Not necessarily, and some carriers see the panels as additional security for the roof. Regardless, you must report them because your home actually increases in value with the panels. Most people do not insure their solar panels because a good-quality product often comes with a 25-year warranty for malfunctions and damage. If you’re leasing, the manufacturer will cover most, if not all, repairs.
Some people still opt to insure their solar panels. If you plan to do so, check with your policy to see if it covers maintenance and installation costs related to repairs.
Are There State Solar Incentives and Rebates?
There are different state incentives and some states don’t offer any rebates or incentives. If you live in California and go solar, you are eligible for tax credits and rebates. The rebates can range anywhere from $.20 to $1.25 per watt of solar capacity. Homeowners can get rebates as high as $10,000 on their panels. Most are also eligible for Investment Tax Credit, which offers a 30 percent discount on top of the rebates and state incentives.
Other Helpful Tips:
Make sure your technician has experience working on the type of roof you have on your home. Don’t assume the best only to be delivered a disaster.
Speak with a trusted Insurance Specialist if you have further questions about insuring solar panels or how a solar system will affect your Homeowners Insurance policy: (888) 772-4247.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.